Italian Slang Words Every Learner Should Know

Italian is a language rich with expressions, idiomatic phrases, and, of course, slang. Knowing Italian slang can immensely help in understanding the culture and connecting with native speakers on a more personal level. Here’s a round-up of some of the most common Italian slang words and phrases that every Italian learner should have in their vocabulary.

This word is the Italian equivalent of ‘cool’ or ‘awesome.’ It is an expression of admiration towards someone or something. It can also mean that something is easy or went well.

Hai visto la macchina nuova di Marco? Che figata!

In bocca al lupo
Literally translating to ‘in the mouth of the wolf,’ this phrase is the Italian way to say ‘good luck.’ The proper response to this expression is “Crepi!” or “Crepi il lupo!” meaning “May the wolf die!”

Domani ho l’esame di matematica, in bocca al lupo!

This is the informal Italian version of saying ‘I don’t know.’ It’s used when you are unsure about something or you do not care enough to provide an answer.

Dove sono le mie chiavi? Boh!

Che palle!
Directly translated to ‘what balls!’ this phrase conveys a sense of frustration or annoyance. It’s similar to the English ‘What a drag!’ or ‘That sucks!’

Devo lavorare fino a tardi stasera, che palle!

Meno male
Meaning ‘thank goodness’ or ‘it’s a good thing,’ this phrase expresses a sense of relief over something that has happened or has been avoided.

Meno male che hai preso le chiavi, avevo dimenticato le mie.

Rompere le scatole
This is the Italian way of saying ‘to annoy someone’ or ‘to be a nuisance.’ It’s akin to the English expression ‘to break someone’s chops.’

Smettila di rompermi le scatole con le tue domande!

An expression of hopefulness and desire, ‘magari’ can mean ‘if only’ or ‘hopefully.’ It can also be used in response to a question to express a wish that the question’s premise is true.

Magari potessimo andare in vacanza in Sicilia quest’estate!

Literally meaning ‘cabbages,’ this interjection is used to express surprise or dismay. It’s a milder and more family-friendly substitute for a curse.

Cavoli! Non mi aspettavo di vederti oggi.

Used both to downplay a ‘thank you’ or to express ‘don’t mention it,’ ‘figurati’ is the go-to phrase. It can also mean ‘imagine’ or ‘suppose,’ depending on the context.

Grazie mille per l’aiuto! – Figurati!

Although not exactly slang, ‘allora’ is a filler word often peppered throughout Italian conversations. It can mean ‘so,’ ‘then,’ or ‘well,’ and is used to gather thoughts or transition between points in a discussion.

Allora, cosa ne pensi di andare al cinema questa sera?

Knowledge of these slang terms and phrases will not only spice up your Italian conversations but also deepen your cultural understanding of this vibrant language. While they are informal and should be used with discretion in professional contexts, they represent an important piece of the puzzle in becoming fluent in Italian. Buono studio! (Happy studying!)

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