The meaning of Tesoro: one word, many translations


Dive into the charming depths of the Italian language and discover the multifaceted gem that is the word tesoro. From expressions of affection to bureaucratic terminology, this guide uncovers the treasure trove of meanings behind a single Italian word.

  • Embrace the Endearment: Use tesoro to show affection towards loved ones. It’s Italy’s answer to “darling” or “sweetheart” and is perfect for making your special someone feel treasured. 😘
  • Literary Love: Impress bookworms by referencing “L’Isola del Tesoro” (Treasure Island) or drop a “tesssoro” like Sméagol from The Lord of the Rings to showcase the word’s literary charm. 📚
  • Gender-Neutral Goodness: Call anyone tesoro regardless of gender. It’s about expressing your feelings, not matching someone’s gender. So go ahead, call your guy friend or your aunt tesoro! 🌈
  • Gratitude Galore: Thank someone by calling them tesoro to express your appreciation. Whether it’s a shopkeeper or a helpful stranger, it’s a sweet way to say “thanks a bunch!” 🙏
  • Friendship Flair: Show your pals some love by calling them tesoro after they’ve done you a solid. It’s like saying “you’re a gem” without the need for actual jewels. 💎
  • Sarcasm & Sass: Feeling cheeky? Use tesoro with a pinch of sarcasm for that playful jab among friends, just like the playful banter in “How I Met Your Mother.” 😜

My thoughts

Translation and uses of the Italian word Tesoro

If you are somewhat familiar with Italian, you may have already noticed that this word is very similar to our term “treasure”. And you’d be on the right track.

Tesoro is in fact the Italian word for treasure.

Hai mai letto “L’Isola del Tesoro”? Adoro quel libro!

Have you ever read “Treasure Island”? I love that book!

Both words, like their Spanish and French counterparts, derive from the Latin word thesaurus. Which in turn comes from the Greek word “thesauros”.

In ancient times, this Greek term could both mean “storehouse” or designate something valuable to hoard or keep safe. This ambivalence has made it possible for tesoro to have another meaning.


Tesoro can also indicate the funds or wealth of an institution, be it a bank or an entire nation.

Until 1997, Italy used to have a Ministry called Ministero del Tesoro (Ministry of the Treasury), who was responsible for controlling government spending and revenue as well as for overseeing economic and financial policy.

Now the Ministry is called “Ministero dell’Economia e delle Finanze”, but its ministers keep being called ministro del Tesoro.

Ieri sera, il Ministro del Tesoro ha rassegnato le dimissioni.

Last night, the Minister of Treasury resigned.

Literature Trivia: In the Italian translation of The Lord of the Rings, the creature Sméagol calls the One Ring “tesssoro” (“preciousss” in the original language)

What does it mean when someone calls you Tesoro?

Tesoro is also a very common term of endearment that Italians use to call their loved ones or children.

The reason for this use is quite intuitive: calling someone tesoro means telling them that they’re the most precious thing in your life.

In this case, the right English translation would be something like: “darling“, “sweetheart“, or “honey“.

Tesoro, sono a casa.

Honey, I’m home.

The term tesoro can also be used broadly to express appreciation, gratitude, or fondness towards someone. For example, a shopkeeper may use tesoro when thanking a customer for their purchase, or a stranger may use it to express gratitude towards someone who has helped them.

While tesoro is often used in romantic relationships, it doesn’t necessarily imply romantic feelings. In fact, it’s a versatile term that can be used to express affection in various contexts. So, if someone calls you tesoro, take it as a compliment and a sign of their fondness towards you.

Now, since this is a masculine name, many new learners often wonder if they can call a woman tesoro

The answer is simple: yes, you can – you don’t have to decline it according to the other person’s gender, as it doesn’t identify them, but your feelings towards them.

It is common for mums and grandmas to cal their kids and grandkids tesoro della mamma / tesoro della nonna – or tesoro di mamma / di nonna.

Tesoro della nonna, vuoi andare un po’ al parco?

Grandma’s sweetheart, do you want to go to the park?

Similarly, uncles and aunts can sometimes call their nephews or nieces tesoro di zio / tesoro di zia.

Can you call your friend tesoro?

You can also use it without romantic implications to say that someone is nice. For instance, it is common to thank friends after they do you a big favor by telling them:

Sei proprio un tesoro!

You’re such a sweetheart!

This use of Tesoro as a term of endearment has also been appropriated as a self-ironic expression by the Italian LGBTQIA community, much like its English equivalents “honey” and “sweetheart“.

Trivia: Tesoro can also mean “honey” with a sarcastic or paternalistic tone. I.e., in one episode from the popular sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” titled “Oh, Honey”, the protagonists call Tesoro a clueless character played by Katy Perry.

A treasure box full of Italian words

So, let’s do a recap.

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Tesoro means “treasure”, but it can also be used to say many things we would normally express with other words.

It can be used in bureaucracy to mean “treasury“, and it is also a very common term of endearment.

If you are looking for a treasure box full of Italian words, keep reading this blog every week.

We explain many common phrases and expressions that are part of the everyday life of an Italian, and we also offer courses and free tests.

Are you ready to improve your Italian vocabulary and fluency?

Check out Think in Italian – a treasure box full of Italian words! See you soon!

What is the meaning of Tesoro?

"Tesoro" is the Italian word for "treasure", but it also has other meanings. You can use it in bureaucracy to mean "treasury", and it is a very common term to express love and endearment.

Can you call someone Tesoro?

Yes. "Tesoro" is often used to address your loved ones: friends, kids, nephews, etc. The word is valid for both masculine and feminine gender.

Is Tesoro a gender-specific term?

No, Tesoro is not a gender-specific term and can be used towards anyone.

Italian word of the day
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Do you feel like going for a walk?
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