Italian Slang: 10 Essential Expressions

Summary

Dive into the heart of Italy with these 10 essential Italian slang expressions! Perfect for sounding like a local and spicing up your conversations with authentic Italian flair. 🇮🇹🗣️

  • Boh… – The Italian equivalent of “I don’t know” or a nonchalant way to express disinterest. Use it when you’re clueless or just can’t be bothered. 🤷‍♂️
  • Dai! – This is your go-to for “Come on!” or to nudge someone into doing you a favor. It’s the perfect mix of encouragement and friendly pressure. 👏
  • Figurati… – Say “Don’t worry about it!” with Italian charm. Whether you’re brushing off thanks or downplaying a coffee catastrophe on your couch, this word is your ally. 😌
  • Che schifo! – Spot something gross? Express your disgust with this phrase. It’s the universal Italian reaction to anything icky. 🤢
  • Che palle! – Literally “What balls!” but really means “What a pain!” Perfect for those moments when you’re just over it. 😩
  • Magari! – A hopeful “I wish!” or a coy “Maybe!” Use it to keep dreams alive or play it cool on a date. 😉
  • Che figata! – Spot something super cool? “Che figata!” is your enthusiastic Italian stamp of approval. 🤩
  • Basta! – When you’ve had enough, “Basta!” is your full stop. Use it to cap off orders, halt overzealous butchers, or silence noisy neighbors. 🛑
  • Mi fa cagare! – When something is just the worst, this colorful expression lets you vent with gusto. Not for the faint of heart! 💩
  • Meno male! – A sigh of relief wrapped in two words. Use it when things turn out better than expected. 🙏

My thoughts

What language is really spoken in Italy?

Regardless of how well you speak Italian, you should add these 10 Italian slang expressions to your vocabulary if you want to improve your comprehension and have more fun when talking to your friends.

No books, just Italian streets.

10 Famous Italian Slang Expressions

These top 10 most common and useful Italian slang words and phrases will turn your Italian language skills upside down!

Most of this slang is idiomatic. These expressions have meanings that are figurative, so you should not take them literally.

For each expression, I will give you an explanation and an example of the idiom in context.

Boh…

We can not really translate this Italian slang word, but it means “I do not know.

People also use it when they are particularly disinterested in a conversation.

“How is American coffee made?” “Boh…

Dai!

Dai” simply means “Come on!” but we can also use it to say, “Please, do me this favor”.

Use it to urge someone to do something: “Another arancino, dai!”. Or if someone refuses, “Let’s dance the tarantella“, “No”, “Dai!“.

Figurati…

Means “Do not worry!” or “It’s nothing!” in Italian.

You can use it when you really mean it, “Thank you for the gift!” “Figurati!

Or to be nice when you really do not mean it:

“I am sorry I spilled black coffee on your new white 3000€ couch.” “…Figurati!

Che schifo!

Means “how disgusting!” and we can use “che schifo” in many different situations.

Imagine the guy sitting next to you on the bus eating a sandwich and staining his clothes with mayonnaise, “Che schifo!“.

A kid trying to pet you with a hand-stained with dog poop: “Che schifo!“.

Che palle!

Literally, it means “What balls!” and it’s short for “What a pain in the ass!”.

Emphasize how bored you are: “Che palle! I am going for a walk” or let your friends know that you do not feel like doing exercises at home: “Che palle this homework!”.

Magari!

“I wish!”, “I hope!” and “Maybe!” translated into one word!

If someone asks you if you plan to return to Italy, marry an Italian, and live in a country house in Tuscany or on the beach in Sicily, you can answer “Magari!” (because, of course, you want to).

Magari” is also great for holding back on your date: “Will we ever see each other again?” “Magari!

Che figata!

It only takes one well-crafted Italian trip to use this phrase every second: “What a cool thing!”. We can translate it into Italian as “Cool!”.

“I tasted the best pasta carbonara of my life!” “Che figata!“. “We watched the sunset in a small village on top of a green hill!” “Che figata!“.

“It’s official. I am going to buy a Ferrari!” “Che figata!

Basta!

Basta!” means “Enough!” or “That’s it!”.

Add it in conversation with the waiter when you are finalizing your order at the restaurant, “Una pizza e basta“.

Use it to stop the butcher from cutting five more steaks than you asked for: “Basta, basta!“.

Or shout it at your neighbors who are playing loud music at 4 a.m.: “BASTA!

Mi fa cagare!

Literally, “I have to poop”. You can express your discontent on a whole new level with this very expressive Italian slang.

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“This bar? Mi fa cagare!“. “His red hat? Mi fa cagare!“. “Pizza with pineapple? Mi fa cagare!

Meno male!

Used like “Thank God!” and literally means “less bad”.

So you can say, “AC Milan won the game? Meno male!” or “I finally got my driver’s license! Meno male!“.

You can also say “Grazie a Dio!” which literally means “Thank God!”.

Learn more Italian vocabulary

I am sure you enjoyed this list. So why not learn more Italian slang expressions?

Believe me; there are hundreds of them.

If you learn these Italian slang phrases, you will be able to have more meaningful conversations with your Italian friends and enjoy Italian cinema because Italian movies often contain a lot of slang, idioms, and dialect.

And other types of native-language content, like Italian podcasts, will be more accessible thanks to these informal languages.

Che figata this Italian slang!

What does "che figata" mean?

"Che figata" means "What a cool thing!" and can be used to express excitement or admiration.

What does "basta" mean?

"Basta" means "Enough!" or "That's it!" and can be used to end a conversation or to stop someone from doing something.

Can learning these Italian slang expressions help with understanding Italian cinema or podcasts?

Yes, learning these informal expressions can help with understanding Italian cinema or podcasts that often contain slang, idioms, and dialects.

Italian word of the day
passeggiata
Example
Hai voglia di fare una passeggiata?
Do you feel like going for a walk?
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One Response

  1. Thanks for sharing this! Learning slang expressions is a fun way to immerse oneself in the language and culture. Can’t wait to try these out in my next Italian conversation!

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