How do you say man in Italian?
The translation of man is one of the 1000 most common Italian words, the first ones you should memorize to start forming simple sentences and have your first live conversations.
The Italian translation of man
The most common Italian translation of man is uomo. It derives from the Latin word homo, which has the same root as the word humus (“ground“).
The original meaning of homo was something along the line of “creature of the ground”, as opposed to gods and other mythological creatures.
As in English, you can use uomo to refer to an adult male or, more generally, to the human race.
Milady, there’s a man at the door.
Signora, c’è un uomo alla porta.
““Da quando l’uomo non crede più all’inferno, ha trasformato la sua vita in qualcosa che somiglia all’inferno. Non può farne a meno!” (Ennio Flaiano)
“Since Man stopped believing in Hell, he transformed his life in something that resembles it. He can’t live without it!” (Ennio Flaiano)
You might think that the plural of uomo is “uomi”, but that is a very common mistake. Uomo is indeed one of the few Italian nouns with irregular plurals. Its plural is uomini.
How do you use uomo in everyday conversations?
Uomo is often used to refer to someone you don’t know or, informally, to a person’s partner/boyfriend.
Ho incontrato un uomo bellissimo al bar.
I met a handsome man at the bar
Come sta il tuo uomo?
How’s your husband?
You can also use it to describe a certain kind of man, a man who does a specific job, and some prehistoric or imaginary men:
- un brav’uomo: a good man
- un uomo onesto: a trustworthy man
- il mio uomo di fiducia: someone you’d call for a specific job without thinking twice.
- uomo delle pulizie: cleaning man
- l’uomo del gas: the gas man
- L’uomo nero: boogeyman
- L’uomo di Neanderthal: Homo Neanderthal
Finally, according to the Garzanti Dictionary, you can use uomo to refer to members of a military formation or a ship’s crew.
Gli uomini dell’equipaggio diventavano sempre più nervosi giorno dopo giorno.
The crewmen were getting more and more nervous from day-to-day.
Fixed expressions featuring “uomo”
Did you know that uomo can also be used to give the idea of a standard measure/situation? For instance, you might say that something is:
- a misura d’uomo: liveable or suitable
- ad altezza d’uomo: at eye level
- a passo d’uomo: at walking pace
- a memoria d’uomo: as long as a person can remember
The literal translations of these expressions all go along the line of: “At a man’s standard [measure/height/pace/etc.]”
It is also featured in the Italian version of “forewarned is forearmed”, which is: uomo avvisato, mezzo salvato. It translates to “a warned man is half-saved”.
Differences with English
In English, you can say “man” to greet someone you meet or to swear. Italians don’t do it and use other words to translate these expressions.
More translations of man in Italian
Uomo is not the only possible translation of man. When talking about a stranger, you can also use other words such as:
Un signore gentile ci ha indicato la strada per l’albergo.
A nice man gave us directions to the hotel.
Un tizio al bar mi ha consigliato questo vino
A guy from the bar recommended me this wine.
How to memorize it
Now you know how to translate man in Italian, but how will you remember it when you need it?
The best way to learn words from a foreign language is to practice them daily.
But what to do if you have no one to speak Italian with?
In that case, the easiest way to remember single words is probably to listen to songs that feature them. In this case, you can listen to:
- “Se ci fosse un uomo” by Giorgio Gaber
- “Umanamente uomo” by Lucio Battisti
- “L’uomo che volava nel vento” by Murubutu
- “L’uomo più furbo” by Max Gazzé
- “L’uomo delle pianure” by Modena City Ramblers
- “Un uomo in mare” by Bandabardò
These songs are all from different genres, so you should easily find something you like and use it to memorize uomo. Have fun listening to them, and see you soon!
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