25 Funny Italian Nicknames You Need to Learn

When it comes to nicknames and giving funny names to lovers, friends, or acquaintances, Italians are the undisputed experts. This is a common practice in Italy, and nobody can escape it. Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself with a new nickname, and whether you like it or not is mostly a matter of luck! With that said, let’s delve a little deeper and see how nicknames change depending on the person they’re assigned to.

funny italian nicknames

Funny Italian Nicknames for Lovers

The list of funny Italian nicknames for lovers is so long that it would be impossible to list them all here. However, we will aim to share some of the most common, along with some of the strangest, to use with your partner in life.


This nickname, which in English means “little bear,” is very common among couples in Italy. Generally, it is used much more frequently by girlfriends towards their partners than by boyfriends. You can check out even more Italian nicknames for boyfriends here!


This Italian nickname draws a parallel with a puppy or a kitten. Lovers often use this nickname instead of the following one.


“Piccola” stands for “baby” or “little girl”. This term of endearment can also be used by women in the male form “piccolo”. It’s a cute way to refer to your partner and compare them to a little creature, someone who needs protection.


This nickname is widely used to compare a partner, generally a woman, to a star in the sky. The second form is a diminutive, “stellina,” which means “little star.”


At first glance, you might think this is an offensive term. But the truth is that “pulce,” which means “flea” in English, is a cute way to imply that one’s partner is small and in need of care.


The funny Italian nickname “polpetta” means “meatball”. It’s a nickname used by men to refer to their girlfriends and it recalls the small size of the food, as well as its taste.


These are the names of two little birds: the former is a “wren” while the latter is a “sparrow”. As we’ve already seen, lovers tend to use names belonging to small animals as an affectionate way of referring to each other.


Although it literally means “a bit smelly,” it is sometimes used in a cute and funny way to refer to a partner.

Asian couple laughing in the park.

Funny Italian Nicknames for Friends

On the other hand, we enter the realm of nicknames used by friends or people who are well-known to us. As you might expect, this category is just as extensive as the previous one, but I can share with you some of the most common ones.


The term “scienziato,” meaning “scientist” in English, is used to describe individuals who have their unique way of seeing or doing things in life. A “scienziato” is not necessarily a formal researcher in a laboratory, but rather someone who is intelligent and may come across as eccentric or even peculiar at times.


Everybody knows this character from movies or cartoons, and as you might expect, it’s used to name those who act wildly or have a deep appreciation for nature.


“Beast” is a nickname that refers to a friend who is big or acts in a way that resembles a wild beast.


“Pazzo” is used to describe people who behave in a way that deviates from normal rules or who tend to exaggerate in what they do. In this case, “pazzo” can be translated as “crazy.”


This nickname is quite funny because it can be used for various reasons, such as for people who are rude or those who act a bit out of place.

Testa gloriosa

In this case, the nickname is used to refer to a friend who is very big-headed and acts as if they can do anything without considering the consequences. In English, it could be translated as “glorious head.”


“Chief,” “Head,” and “Boss” are all synonyms that can correspond to this Italian nickname. In a group of friends, it can be used irrespective of social position, job status, or importance within the group. It is another way Italians use to address each other. Sometimes it can specifically refer to the leader of a group or something similar.


A friend whom you call “pollo” is someone who is scared of taking action and fears the outcome, even when there is no rational reason to do so. In English, it would sound similar to saying “you’re a chicken!” to imply their reluctance or timidity.


Of course, we can’t overlook the gangster style that is characteristic of some Italians. This nickname is used to refer to individuals who exhibit certain behavioral traits reminiscent of a gangster. However, it can also be assigned to people based on the way they dress or carry out specific actions.


Nothing to explain here. Turtle is commonly used to call people who are slow in doing things.


A friend who is known for breaking hearts, regardless of gender, can earn this title.

Close up portrait laughing young man walking with cellphone in city

Funny Italian Nicknames That Stick With You For Life

Have you ever watched a movie where Italians call each other by name, followed by a nickname? Tony Ciccione, for example, where “ciccione” stands for “fat.” In the past, it was common to give people nicknames that, over time, became brand-new surnames.

Today, these kinds of nicknames have lost their strength, and only in the southernmost areas of the peninsula can traces of them still be found.

In these cases, people receive a nickname based on a past event for which they will likely be remembered forever. It can happen due to a particular way of doing things in life or physical details as well. Sometimes, all it takes is luck. Once a nickname is given, there’s no way back.

For instance, someone who has a scarred face, regardless of the reason, may become Francesco lo sfreggiato. However, that’s not enough to understand the full picture. Every place has its own dialect, and words and customs can vary significantly.

In Naples, for example, sometimes your name can disappear and transform into a new one you never chose. Considering the previous example, Francesco could become “O’ sfreggiat,” which means “the Scarface.”

Nicknames can be so funny sometimes that they seem ridiculous. Here are some more funny Italian nicknames you may hear while in Italy.


A “sloth” refers to a person who is extremely lazy and idle to the point where it’s difficult to comprehend.


A person who doesn’t know how to behave when with other people or someone who acts wildly, particularly resembling a bear, can be described as “bear-like” or “bearish” in their behaviour.


Derived from the old Japanese movie, a nickname that can be given to people who are exceptionally tall or big beyond the standard limits.


A clown is an individual who seeks to draw attention or perform in order to always be in the spotlight or center stage.


This nickname, in English, signifies “lizard” and is used to describe individuals who have a fondness for the sun and prefer to remain perpetually under its radiant rays.


The term ‘macchina’ stands for ‘machine.’ It refers to a person who is dedicated to carrying out a task continuously and without interruption, as if they were a robot.

Three happy multiracial young women laughing outdoors.


Italian nicknames can be tricky and, as seen in this article, quite funny as well. Once a friend or anyone else starts calling you by a certain nickname, it can become an identifying characteristic. However, in general, nicknames are amusing or pleasant ways to foster closeness with others, as long as everyone involved enjoys them too.

25 funny italian nicknames you need to learn
Save for later!

Ethics statement: Below you will find affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!

Lingopie (affiliate link) is the Netflix of language learning application that uses real TV shows and movies to help you learn a new language. You can choose a show to watch based on your fluency level, and use the interactive subtitles to get instant translations to help you learn quickly.

Are you interested in improving your Italian in a fun and stress-free manner? Then we highly recommend Serena Capilli's short stories in Italian (affiliate link), designed for beginners, advanced beginners, and lower intermediate learners (A1-B1 CEFR). These stories have been optimised for English speakers in search of a fun, laid-back learning experience! Read our full review here.