10 Ways to Say “Good Luck!” in Italian

According to numerous studies, Italians take the crown as one of the most superstitious populations in Europe. While I cannot assert the absolute certainty of this, there’s no denying our affinity for gesti scaramantici, those curious little gestures believed to influence fate. And of course, the Italian vocabulary itself boasts quite a few expressions, some of which might raise an eyebrow or two, like in culo alla balena and auguri e figli maschi.

So, let’s explore the best ways to say good luck in Italian, allowing you to sprinkle a touch of fortune on those around you the Italian way! Just remember that their usage depends on the context and your relationship with the person you’re addressing.

10 Ways to Say "Good Luck!" in Italian

1. Buona fortuna

English translation: Good luck

This is the most straightforward and commonly used way to say “good luck” in Italian. It’s a versatile phrase suitable for various situations.

Ho sentito che stai aprendo un nuovo negozio. Ti auguro buona fortuna e successo!

I heard you’re opening a new shop. I wish you good luck and success!

2. Auguri

English translation: Best wishes

This is a general wish for good luck or best wishes.

Italians use the word Auguri to wish people well on various occasions. For example, when someone is about to start a new job or take an exam, you can simply say Auguri! to show you hope everything goes well for them.

Besides wishing good luck, you can also use Auguri to celebrate someone’s birthday, anniversary, graduation, or any important moment in their life.

Auguri per il tuo nuovo lavoro. Sarai fantastico! 

Good luck with your new job. You’ll be fantastic!

Auguri per la tua laurea! Sei stata bravissima.

Congratulations on your graduation! You did great.

3. In bocca al lupo 

English translation: Break a leg

Take one of the most archetypal representations of danger – the wolf – and you have another common Italian phrase to wish good luck! With a literal translation of “in the mouth of the wolf,” the expression in bocca al lupo can be traced back to the ancient jargon of hunters, who used it to ward off bad luck. And the traditional response to complete the wish is Crepi il lupo (May the wolf die).

Alternatively, this Italian expression can also be interpreted in quite the opposite manner, where the wolf symbolises protection, drawing a connection to the she-wolf that saved Romulus and Remus in the story of Rome’s origins. In this case, the response would be a warm-hearted Viva il lupo! (Long live the wolf).

A: In bocca al lupo per il colloquio di oggi, sono certa che andrà tutto bene
B: Crepi il lupo! Ti chiamo appena finisco.

A: In the mouth of the wolf for today’s interview, I’m sure everything will go well.
B: May the wolf die! I’ll call you as soon as I finish.

4. In culo alla balena 

English translation: In the whale’s ass

Similar to the phrase in bocca al lupo, but significantly more informal, In culo alla balena is an Italian expression used humorously to wish someone good luck. Its literal translation is “in the whale’s ass,” making it clear that it’s intended for light-hearted conversations among friends! To add a touch of irreverence, the anticipated response is Speriamo che non caghi! which literally translates to “Let’s hope it doesn’t take a shit!

According to certain interpretations, this expression draws from the biblical story of Jonah, who gets thrown into the sea and then swallowed by a “huge fish,” which then spits him out onto the shore, thus saving him. Therefore, the underlying idea here is that luck can be found even in the most unlikely places, such as the ass of a whale. Interestingly, over time this expression has also come to be used with the meaning of “a very distant, godforsaken place.”

A: In culo alla balena per domani!
B: Speriamo che non caghi!

A: In the whale’s ass for tomorrow!
B: Let’s hope it doesn’t take a shit!

5. Incrociamo le dita! 

English translation: Fingers crossed

Much like how English speakers cross their fingers for luck, the phrase incrociamo le dita is a common expression used to convey good luck or express hope for a positive outcome in a situation. 

The act of crossing one’s fingers is a gesture believed to ward off bad luck in various cultures. But did you know it has religious origins? Back when Christians were persecuted, crossing fingers was a secret gesture that evoked the symbol of the cross and served as a signal through which believers could recognize one another. Then, in medieval times, it evolved to serve as a means to ward off the devil and safeguard one’s soul.

Incrociamo le dita e speriamo che vada tutto bene.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that everything turns out well.

6. Spero che vada tutto bene 

English translation: I hope everything goes well

Spero che vada tutto bene is another straightforward phrase to say good luck in Italian. It’s frequently used to convey support and encouragement to someone in a kind and thoughtful way. A slightly varied version we often use is Vedrai che andrà tutto bene (You’ll see, everything will be fine).

A: Sono molto in ansia per i risultati della TAC. 
B: Non preoccuparti, vedrai che andrà tutto bene.

A: I’m feeling quite anxious about the results of the CT scan.
B: Don’t worry, I’m confident everything will turn out just fine.

7. Che Dio ce la mandi buona

English translation: May God send us a good one

Among the many ways to say good luck in Italian, the phrase Che Dio ce la mandi buona invokes the divine to send forth goodness and positivity, either to our own path or to someone else’s – in which case, the phrasing adjusts to Che Dio te la / gliela / ve la mandi buona depending on who you are addressing it to.

A: Ragazzi, domani abbiamo la partita più importante della stagione. 
B: Che Dio ce la mandi buona!

A: Guys, tomorrow we have the most important match of the season.
B: May God send us some luck!

8. Tocchiamo ferro 

English translation: Touch wood / Knock on wood

When Italians use the phrase tocchiamo ferro (literally translated as “let’s touch iron“) with someone, they are sending positive vibes, essentially expressing a hope that this action of touching iron will help ward off any potential negativity.

Curiously, the tradition of touching iron to ward off evil spirits or bad luck is said to trace back to the English saint Dunstan. According to the story, the devil in disguise approached Dunstan, seeking his aid in shoeing his horse. asked Dunstan to shoe his horse. Seeing through the deception, the saint nailed the iron to the devil’s hooves instead, releasing him only under the condition that he would steer clear of homes adorned with horseshoe iron!

A: Ho finalmente finito di riparare il computer, speriamo che non dia più problemi.
B: Tocchiamo ferro!

A: I’ve finally finished repairing the computer, let’s hope it won’t have issues anymore.
B: Knock on wood!

9. Tanta merda 

English translation: Break a leg

It might seem a bit puzzling at first because the literal translation of tanta merda is “a lot of shit” in English. However, this phrase holds a common and unique significance in the world of theatre—it’s a way to wish for the successful outcome of the show. You can also say “merda, merda, merda”.

The roots of this phrase can be traced back to the 18th and 19th centuries when the theatre was predominantly attended by the upper and middle bourgeoisie, who would arrive at the venue in their horse-drawn carriages. Consequently, spotting “tanta merda” in the parking area was indicative of a full house and the anticipation of substantial profits.

Oggi è il gran giorno, tanta merda a tutti!

Today’s the big day, break a leg everyone!

10. Auguri e figli maschi 

Literal meaning: Best wishes and male children

Auguri e figli maschi is an archaic Italian expression used to convey good luck to newlyweds. Its origins lie in the historically male-centric culture that once prevailed in Italian society. Back then, the presence of at least one male child was considered essential, as he would contribute to the family’s income and carry forward the father’s surname. On the other hand, the prospect of having female children entailed the financial responsibility of providing dowries. 

Nowadays this expression is used less frequently, but it’s good to be aware of it, as it might be heard in strongly traditional contexts.

Congratulazioni per il tuo matrimonio! Auguri e figli maschi a te e alla tua sposa!

Congratulations on your wedding! Best wishes and male children to you and your wife!

how to say good luck in italian

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