Eggplant is an essential ingredient in many Italian dishes, especially those from Southern Italy.
There’s Caponata, Pasta alla Norma, eggplant parmigiana… but also baked stuffed eggplant, eggplant meatballs, and burgers, and lots of pizza toppings.
In short, you are spoiled for choice, but if you go to a restaurant without knowing how to say eggplant in Italian, you will have to hope that the waiter speaks English.
This isn’t always possible. Besides, Italians really appreciate it when tourists know a little bit of their language.
So, here’s the Italian word for eggplant.
The Italian word for eggplant
While this berry has lots of English names (e.g.: guinea squash, aubergine, brinjal, etc.) there is only one Italian word for eggplant: melanzana [IPA: /me.lanˈt͡sa.na/ – with an accent on the third sillable]. It is a feminine singular noun, and its plural form is melanzane.
A: “Ehi nonna, che c’è per cena?” B: “Oggi ho fatto le melanzane ripiene al forno.”
A: “Hey grandma, what’s up for dinner?” B: “Today I made baked stuffed eggplants.”
Did you know that, in Italian-American slang, the word melanzana also used to be an insult? It was used to call someone a dummy, as though “eggplant-head”.
In Italy, on the other hand, it is very rare to hear such an insult. If Italians want to call you a dummy, they’ll probably say “salame!” or “testa di rapa” (“turnip-head”).
The first one can also be used to call someone clumsy. However, don’t be offended if someone calls you that. These insults are often meant as a joke and used between friends.
Go ask for that Caponata
Now you know how to say eggplant in Italian and how to make fun of your friends when they do something silly or goofy. See you soon to learn some new Italian words! 🙂
Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!