30 False Friends in English and Italian That Can Easily Trip You Up

False friends are words in different languages that sound or look the same but have completely different meanings.

Although the vast majority of words that resemble each other in English and Italian do share a similar meaning due to their shared origin, there are a number of false friends that will certainly catch you out – and probably cause you some serious embarrassment – at some point on your language learning journey!

The thirty I’ve included in this article are those that my Italian husband and I occasionally mix up to this day, usually when we’re sleep deprived or have had a bit too much to drink! 😉

30 false friends in italian and english

List of False Friends in English and Italian

1. Accidente vs accident

accidente = coincidence, misfortune, sickness
accident = incidente, infortunio


2. Argomento vs argument

argomento = topic, subject, theme, evidence
argument = discussione, litigio


3. Attualmente vs actually

attualamente = currently
actually = in realtà / in effetti


4. Baracca vs barrack

baracca = shack
barrack = caserma


5. Bimbo vs bimbo

bimbo = child, little boy
bimbo = oca giuliva


6. Camera vs camera

camera = room
camera = macchina fotografica


7. Cauzione vs caution

cauzione = deposit, bail
caution = cautela


8. Confrontare vs confront

confrontare = to compare
to confront = affrontare


9. Conveniente vs convenient

conveniente = good value
convenient = comodo


10. Delusione vs delusion

delusione = disappointment
delusion = illusione, allucinazione


11. Educazione vs education

educazione = good manners, upbringing
education = istruzione, insegnamento, pedagogia

Note: educazione can mean education when referring to specific subjects of study (e.g. educazione civica = civic education; educazione artistica = art education)


12. Estate vs estate

estate = summer
estate = tenuta


13. Eventualmente vs eventually

eventualmente = possibly, if need be
eventually = finalmente, prima o poi


14. Fattoria vs factory

fattoria = farm
factory = fabbrica


15. Lettura vs lecture

lettura = reading
lecture = lezione


16. Libreria vs library

libreria = bookshop
library = biblioteca


17. Magazzino vs magazine

magazzino = warehouse
magazine = periodico, rivista


18. Marmellata vs marmalade

marmellata = jam
marmalade = marmellata di agrumi / marmellata d’arance

It took ages for my husband to stop buying me jars of strawberry jam from the store instead of my beloved marmalade!


19. Morbido vs morbid

morbido = soft
morbid = morboso


20. Noioso vs noisy

noioso = boring
noisy = rumoroso


21. Parenti vs parents

parenti = relatives
parents = genitori

During my first year in Italy, I asked my mother-in-law if she was happy for my parenti to visit. She responded by saying “How many of them?”


22. Pavimento vs pavement

pavimento = floor
pavement = marciapiede, strada asfaltata


23. Preservativo vs preservative

preservativo = contraceptive, condom
preservative = conservante

I once asked my Italian mother-in-law if it was necessary to add a preservativo to the stock she was preparing. The look she gave me was priceless!


24. Pretendere vs pretend

pretendere = to expect, presume, demand, insist
to pretend = fare finta, fingere


25. Ricordo vs record

ricordo = memory, recollection
record = nota, documento, disco, vinile


26. Romanzo vs romance

romanzo = novel
romance = storia d’amore


27. Rumore vs rumour

rumore = noise, sound
rumour = pettegolezzo, voce diffusa


28. Stampa vs stamp

stampa = press, print, printing
stamp = francobollo


29. Terrificante vs terrific

terrificante = terrifying
terrific = fantastico


30. Testo vs test

testo = text
test = esame


Have you ever been tripped up by a false friend in Italian? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

false friends in english and italian

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