Italian Slang: G

Italian Slang Dictionary: intro A B C D E F G I L M N O P Q R S T U V X Z


[jeh-ZOO] Jesus, sometimes used as an exclamation of shock.


[NYOCK-ah] Cute slang for vagina, but also used to indicate a hot female.

top photo: Laila sei la + gnocca

+ is pronounced piu’ [PYOO] – “plus” (as in addition) but the word also means “more” or “most”, so: “Laila, you’re the hottest”.


[go-DARE-ay] To enjoy, but most often used for orgasm.

Photo below: Io godo (“I enjoy/I’m coming” implies that the woman is feeling orgasmic over the whiskey. (From an exhibition of advertising that was banned as too rude or provocative in its day, which was on show at Milan’s Central Station.)


[goal-DOAN-ay] Condom.

A more formal word for condom, e.g. if you want to buy one at the pharmacy, is preservativo. This is fraught with peril for foreigners when discussing packaged foods. In such a context, a native English-speaker might instinctively reach for a word for “preservatives,” and make a very embarassing mistake: such foods do not contain preservativi, but conservanti. (Although, come to think of it, finding a preservativo in your cereal box could be interesting or disgusting, depending how it’s presented…)

BTW, you can usually buy condoms at the supermarket as well – look in the stands near the checkout. And no one will be embarassed if you buy them. They come in all sorts of styles and flavors, there are even brands marketed specifically to youth. Result? Very low rates of teenage pregnancy.

Italian Slang: L

Italian Slang Dictionary: intro A B C D E F G I L M N O P Q R S T U V X Z


[LEK-ah-COOL-oh] leccare “to lick” + culo = “Ass licker”, what Americans would call a brown-noser. A variant is leccachiappe [LEK-ah-KYAHP-pay] – butt cheeks licker.


[loo-MAR-ray] To ogle. (Northern/Lombard/Milanese.)

Italian Slang: M

Italian Slang Dictionary: intro A B C D E F G I L M N O P Q R S T U V X Z


[makh-kair-RON-ikko] “Maccaroni-ish”. This is the term Italians themselves use for heavily Italianized and very poor English. Not rude, except to the person/discourse to whom you are applying it.

Madonna, Madonna Mia

[mah-DON-na MEE-a] My Madonna! A general exclamation of shock, can be used in polite company.

Mamma Mia

[MAHM-ma MEE-a] My mom! General exclamation of shock or consternation, similar to Madonna mia. Yes, it’s cliché, but it really is used in Italy.

Mandare all’inferno, a quel paese

[mahn-DAH-ray ahl in-FAIR-no, ah quell pah-AY-zay] To send to hell or to that place – to tell someone to go to hell. Inferno wouldn’t be considered particularly rude today, but mandare a quel paese survives as an alternative, a relic of when wishing someone to hell was very rude indeed.

You can also mandare a fare in culo (rude) or in bagno (polite).


[mahn-NAHJ-jah] The word itself is very mild, equivalent to drat or darn. But it can be quite satisfying if you really spit it out.


[mar-PYOH-nay] Skirt-chaser, a man constantly trying to seduce women. The term makes no judgement as to his eventual success. Related to furbo.


[may-nay-fray-GHEES-ta] From me ne frego – Someone who doesn’t care.


[MARE-dah] noun – Shit, though not used nearly as often as in American English. Except in Siamo nella merda – “We’re in the shit.”

Mettere le Corna

[MET-ter-ray lay COR-na] To put horns on (someone else) – to (sexually) betray one’s spouse. Hence cornuto. Not particularly rude when used in this way, e.g. Non sa che sua moglie gli mette le corna con il macellaio – “He doesn’t know his wife is cheating on him with the butcher.” (I chose the butcher as an example, not because I know of any specific cases, but because butchers are popularly supposed to be getting a lot of it – dunno why, perhaps the proximity to all that meat?)


[mean-YOT-tah] Prostitute. Used in the exclamation Porca mignotta!


[MINK-ya] Sicilian slang for penis. Used as an exclamation: Minchia!


[mink-YA-ta] A supremely stupid act. My favorite use of this is Montalbano’s Una solenne minchiata (a solemn supremely stupid act). See also cazzata.


[MIN-nay] Tits. I think this originates in Tuscan dialect.

Mi Va

[mee VAH] This is slangy but not particularly rude. Literally it means “it goes me,” (mi – reflexive pronoun for myself, va – from the verb andare, to go) but it’s used for “I like it” with a verb, as in Non mi va di… – “I don’t want to do… ” Also used for something else you do or don’t like: Mi andrebbe una bella bistecca stasera: “I’d really like a good steak this evening.”

Italian Slang: P

Italian Slang Dictionary: intro A B C D E F G I L M N O P Q R S T U V X Z


[pahk-ko] Literally “package,” but also used in the sense shown here (“Your package is in good hands”), just as it is in English.

[PALL-lay] Balls. Che palle! – “What bullshit!” or “What a pain in the ass!” Or, simply Palle! “Bullshit!”

Stare tra le palle – “to stay between the balls” is to be a pain in the butt or to be in the way or generally bothersome.

Ikea ad

above: From an exhibition of advertising that was banned as too rude or provocative in its day.) Ikea offers to keep the kids “in the balls” while you shop.

Palle Girate (Avere Le)

[PALL-lay jee-RAH-tay] “To have one’s balls turned or twisted” – to be extremely irritated, either specifically or just a general bad mood.

Palle Piene (Avere Le)

[PALL-lay PYAY-nay] “To have one’s balls full [of x],” to be completely fed up with, sick of, unable to stand any longer.


[pah-tah-TEEN-ah] Literally, “little potato.” In gastronomy, refers to French fries or potato chips (chips and crisps, if you’re British). In anatomy, refers to the female sexual organs (patata – potato – is also used). Hence a TV ad featuring Rocco Siffredi, a porno star, talking about his vast experience with patate – “but my favorites are Amica Chips.” (These ads were later banned for rudeness by some seldom-heard-from censorship authority, which the public thought ridiculous.)

Pecora, alla

[ALL-a PAY-cor-ah] “Like a sheep” – doggy style.

^ image top: “A woman is like a washing machine: she gives her best at 90 degrees!”

Per Dio

[pair DEE-oh] By God. Not often used, at least not where I live. An old-fashioned way to make an exclamation without blaspheming is to swear by some outdated god: perdiana, perbacco, pergiove (Diana, Bacchus, Jove). Or take it to a level of abstraction with Per tutti i dindiridin!

Pera, farsi una

[FAR-see OO-na PAIR-a] To take an injection of heroin.

Pippa – Farsi Una Pippa

[FAR-see OOna PEEP-pa] Literally, to jerk (oneself) off, but also used to denigrate others: Ci fa una pippa – “[We’re so much better that] he/she can just jerk us off.”


[PEER-la] Lombard/Milanese dialect for penis, but used more like “dickhead”.


[pee-ZELL-oh] Literally pea (the kind you eat), but used as cutesy slang for penis. Often used with small children, especially in the diminutive form, pisellino (little pea). Not to be confused with pisolino.


[pee-zoh-LEE-no] A nap. Often used in the phrase schiacciare un pisolino, but schiacciare means to squash – why would you squash a nap? (This is not a rude word.)


[pom-PEE-no] “Little pump” – blowjob.

Of course Ross and her friends found this street name in Cannes hysterically funny…


[por-CAH-tah] A swinish, disgusting act, or a big mess.

Porci Comodi

[POR-chee COM-moh-dee] Literally “comfortable pigs,” but used as “disgusting acts performed at will and at leisure.”


[POR-coh] Pig, swine. Can be used of a person of disgusting habits (usually with specific reference to sexual habits), but more often used in conjunction with another word, as an exclamation: Porco cane! Porco dio! Porca madonna! Porca puttana! Porco Giuda! Porca vacca! (dog, god, Madonna, whore, Judas, cow). Roughly equals “Holy shit!” Porca miseria – “pig poverty” – is very commonly used.

A polite version of some common phrases can be constructed by substituting Ella or Ulla (both meaningless) for Porca: – Ella miseria!

A semi-polite substition for porca Madonna is porca Madosca – if Madosca has a meaning (someone’s name?), I don’t know what it is.


[por-CONE-ah] Literally a big (female) pig, used to mean “slut”.


[por-CONE-ay] Male equivalent of porcona.

Preso in Giro

[PRAY-zo in GEE-ro] To be “grabbed around,” to be made fun of, made a fool of, fooled. Can be used in polite company.


[pro-VAR-chee] Literally “to try to do it”, but often used as to attempt to seduce. See also rimorchiare, tacchinare.


[poot-TAHN-ah] Prostitute. Used in exclamations such as Porca puttana! and Puttana Eva! (“Eve prostitute” – that is, it’s Eve’s fault that women induce men to sin.). Pasta alla puttanesca is supposed to be a recipe developed by Rome’s streetwalkers. Figlio di puttana [FEEL-yo dee…] = son of a bitch.