There are certain words in every language that can make you laugh, either because their meaning is humorous or because the way they sound is amusing. In this article, we’ve put together a list of ten funny Italian words that will succeed not only in making others chuckle but also in helping you sound like a fluent Italian speaker!
English meaning: loafer, idler, lazy bum
Other forms: pelandrona (feminine), pelandroni (masc. plural), pelandrone (fem. plural)
This word never fails to make me giggle because it’s what my husband calls me when he catches me lazing around on the couch or sleeping in!
Dai, pelandrona, muoviti o facciamo tardi!
Come on, you lazy thing, get moving or we’re going to be late!
English meaning: lazybones, layabout
Other forms: fannullona (feminine), fannulloni (masc. plural), fannullone (fem. plural)
Fannullone is actually a compound noun made up of two words: fare (to do) + nulla (nothing) + one (modifying suffix that denotes largeness). It literally translates as “a big do-nothing”!
Mio figlio è veramente un fannullone: non fa niente in casa!
My son is a real layabout: he does nothing around the house!
English meaning: couch potato
Other forms: pantofolaia (feminine), pantofolai (masc. plural), pantofolaie (fem. plural)
Italian has a wealth of funny words to do with laziness. Pantofolaio comes from the word pantofola which means slipper. By adding the agent suffix -aio to the end, you wind up with a word that means “someone who wears slippers all the time”. People in this category prefer to stay at home on the couch watching TV rather than go out and see new things.
Gianni è un pantofolaio che preferisce giocare ai videogiochi piuttosto che viaggiare.
Gianni is a couch potato who prefers to play video games rather than travel.
English meaning: grouchy, grumpy
Other forms: brontolona (feminine), brontoloni (plural)
If you’re in a bad mood, don’t be surprised if your Italian friends and family call you a brontolone. This word is a combination of the verb brontolare (to grumble, complain) and the suffix -one which denotes largeness.
Non fare il brontolone! Sembri mio nonno…
Don’t be grouchy! You’re like my granddad…
English meaning: the giggles
Other forms: ridarelle (plural), alternative forms are risarella and riserella
Just hearing this word makes me burst into a fit of giggles, which is appropriate because that’s exactly what this word means! It comes from the noun riso (laughter) and the verb ridere which means to laugh.
Mi è venuta la ridarella in classe.
I had the giggles in class.
English meaning: glutton, big eater
Other forms: mangiona (feminine), mangioni (plural)
Here is a word you are guaranteed to hear, especially if you enjoy eating as much as I do! (Hey, who doesn’t when there is so much delicious Italian food out there to try?) Mangione is the combination of the verb mangiare (to eat) and the suffix -one and literally translates as “big eater”.
Ammazza, hai ordinato due pizze? Che mangione che sei!
Wow, you ordered two pizzas? What a big eater you are!
English meaning: chubby
Other forms: paffuta (feminine), paffuti (masc. plural), paffute (fem. plural)
The sheer sound of the word paffuto brings to mind something cute and chubby, don’t you agree?
Ho un gatto paffuto dal pelo arancione.
I have a chubby cat with orange fur.
English meaning: to waste time, fool around
A word of warning: this word is considered vulgar but that doesn’t mean you won’t hear it, particularly between young people and men. (Just don’t use it with the sweet old lady who lives next door!) It comes from the word cazzo which is a rude term for a man’s private parts.
Smettila di cazzeggiare su internet e fai i tuoi compiti!
Stop wasting time on the internet and do your homework!
English meaning: stingy, tight-fisted
Other forms: pidocchiosa (feminine), pidocchiosi (masc. plural), pidocchiose (fem. plural)
Pidocchio is the word for head-lice in Italian and somehow an association was drawn between these beastly creatures and someone who is unwilling to spend money! This expression is mostly used in Rome, so if you use it in other regions, people may think that you’re literally saying someone has lice.
Questi ragazzi sono tra i più pidocchiosi che io abbia mai conosciuto.
These guys are among the stingiest I’ve ever met.
English meaning: scaredy-cat
Other forms: fifoni (plural)
Fifa is the word for fear in Italian but by adding on the useful suffix -one once again, you get the word for scaredy-cat.
Giada è una vera fifona. Ha paura di tutto!
Giada is a real scaredy-cat. She’s afraid of everything!
Can you think of any other funny Italian words? If so, please share them with us below! 🙂