If you have a fondness for sugary foods such as chocolate, cakes, and sweets, you should immediately add the adjective dolce to your Italian lexicon.
The meaning of dolce in italian
The first definition of dolce in the dictionary is that it is pleasant to taste what is neither bitter, nor sour, nor salty: “the drink is dolce“, “honey is too dolce for me”
Another definition of sweet is without salt: “the dolce water of rivers.
Also means pleasant to the eye: “a dolce show”.
But dolce can also be used as a noun to refer to a dessert.
Let’s see some examples.
The adjective dolce
Dolce is one of those adjectives whose form changes only for the plural, not for the gender. For example:
un mandarino dolce (masculine, singular)
a sweet tangerine
una fragola dolce (feminine, singular)
a sweet strawberry
dei mandarini dolci (masculine, plural)
delle fragole dolci (feminine, plural)
It can refer to foods or drinks that are naturally sweet like fruit (frutta), that have been sweetened like coffee (caffè), that are sweeter than other foods or drinks of their kind like a dessert wine (vino), or that have a mild taste like fresh cheese (formaggio fresco).
Just as in English (sweet), dolce has various meanings, all of which denote something pleasant or agreeable.
For example, you can use dolce to describe different facets of a person, including their temperament, appearance, personality, or action.
un carattere dolce
a sweet character
un sorriso dolce
a sweet smile
un gesto dolce
a sweet gesture
un viso dolce
a sweet face
When you use the word dolce to talk about the temperature or climate of a place, it means mild or temperate.
un clima dolce
a mild climate
It can also mean malleable in reference to metals or gentle when talking about the steepness of a slope or a breeze.
While hard water is literally called acqua dura, soft water is known in Italian as acqua dolce (literally sweet water).
The term marinaio d’acqua dolce refers to an inexperienced person.
Dolce also has the meaning alternative when referring to medicine.
Dolce as a noun
Dolce is not only an adjective but also a masculine noun meaning dessert.
Although occasionally the word dessert is used, dolce is more common.
Vuoi ordinare un dolce?
Do you want to order a dessert?
Another meaning for the noun dolce is sweet taste or sweetness, in which case it is preceded by the determiner il (which).
You can find it this way in the phrase il dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing), made famous by the movie Eat Pray Love.
You may also hear the diminutive dolcino or dolcetto, both meaning small cakes or small pastries.
The latter is also the name of a famous black Italian grape variety that is widely grown in the Piedmont region.
Dolcetto also appears in the Halloween expression Dolcetto o scherzetto! (Trick or treat!)
Others example of dolce
Some common words and expressions in which dolce occurs are:
casa dolce casa
home sweet home
la dolce vita
the sweet life
la mia dolce metà
my other (better) half
essere in dolce attesa
to be pregnant
essere al dolce
to be just finished (with a meal)
ghiotto di dolci
to have a sweet tooth
Do your dolce vita
Try complimenting your partner in Italian and you’ll see how she responds to the dolce sound of Italian words.
Tell your mother how delicious the dolce she baked is.
Sweeten your vocabulary with this versatile Italian word.
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