What are parole alterate?

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What are parole alterate

Italian parole alterate

One of the great things about Italian is that you can express yourself in many different ways.

Sometimes this is possible by just changing the ending of a word a tiny bit.

Think of the word bello (nice) and bellissimo (very nice).

Now, let’s get to the point!

You might have heard the concept of parole alterate but you might not know what they are and that’s why you’re here.

In order for you to understand, let’s have a look at an example of a parola alterata in English:

  • mommy (instead of mom)

Well, parole alterate has something to do with Italian suffixes that change the meaning of words.

A suffix is added at the end of a word to form a derivative, like -tion, -ity, -ment in the words connection, activity, and argument.

Here are some examples of Italian parole alterate:

  • Festa (party): festicciola (small party)
  • Odore (smell): odoraccio (bad smell)
  • Mamma (mom): mammina (mommy)

These alterations are very powerful, as you can use them to better express yourself, but you have to know how to first.

Let’s find out!

What are parole alterate in Italian

What are parole alterate?

Basically, parole alterate means “altered words”.

In other words, when we talk about a parola alterata we refer to noun or adjective alteration.

An alteration happens when the suffix of a noun or adjective changes but its root remains the same.

By doing so, we slightly change the meaning of the word to a different meaning depending on the added suffix.

This nuance of meaning is given by the opinion that the speaker has towards what they’re referring to.

Also, you have to remember that suffixes change depending on the gender and number of the noun or adjective.

In Italian, there are four types of parole alterate:

  1. Accrescitivi (augmentative)
  2. Diminutivi (diminutive)
  3. Vezzeggiativi (expressing affection)
  4. Dispregiativi/ spregiativi (derogatory)

Let’s take the word gatto (cat) as an example and see how to form parole alterate from it:

  • accrescitivo: gattone (big gat)
  • diminutivo and vezzeggiativo: gattino (small and cute cat)
  • peggiorativo: gattaccio (bad cat)

Don’t worry if this looks confusing for now.

We’ll show you some more examples for you to understand better.

How to use parole alterate in Italian

Italian accrescitivi

We use accrescitivi to describe something bigger than usual.

These are common accrescitivi suffixes:

  • one

This is the most common one.


big lazy person


big gluttonous girl


big book

  • accione


big man

  • acchione


someone very cunning

Parole alterate in Italian

Italian diminutivi

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We use the diminutive alteration to describe something that is smaller than usual.

These are common diminutive endings:

  • ino

This is the most common one. Here are some examples:


small dog


small girl


small table

  • -etto


small house


small sip

  • -ello/a


small donkey

  • -icino


small book

How to form parole alterate in Italiano

Italian vezzeggiativi

We use vezzeggiativi when we want to describe something that looks lovely, cute, and small.

So, it’s similar to diminutivi.

  • -uccio


small and cute house


hot in a cute way


cute and small Marta

  • -acchiotto


small and cute bear (like a teddy bear)


small and cute wolf

  • -olo


small and cute son

  • -etto/a


small and cute man

How to form parole alterate

Italian Dispregiativi

Last but not least, we use dispregiativi to point out bad aspects of something. Dispregiativo literally means derogatory or pejorative.

  • -accio


bad girl


bad guy


bad days

  • -iciattolo/a


bad monsters

  • -astro


bad young person

Italian parole alterate

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

Examples with parole alterate

Let’s now have a look at some examples:

Che giornataccia!

What a bad day!

Che villona!

What a big house!

Ho comprato del prosciutto ma aveva un saporaccio e l’ho buttato.

I bought some ham but it didn’t smell good so I threw it away)

Che odorino! Da dove viene?

What a good smell! Where is it coming from?

Guarda cos’hanno combinato quei ragazzacci!

Look what those bad guys did!

As you can see from the examples, altered words are fairly easy to use and are also very helpful.

Forming parole alterate Italian

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I’m originally from Argentina but grew up in Italy, so I’m bilingual. I love languages, which is why I studied French and Linguistics in London. I’m a grammar nerd and I love finding out about the meaning of words.

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