If you’re planning on visiting Italy, there are a few basic needs you will want to express in Italian. Most importantly (or perhaps second only to finding the public facilities), you need to know how to go about filling your empty stomach up with food. The first step? To tell someone that you’re hungry!
In this article, you’ll find eight useful phrases that translate as “I’m hungry” in Italian, ordered from the most basic to the most advanced. Let us know in the comment section below which expression is your favourite!
1. Ho fame!
If you are planning to learn just one phrase on this list, let it be “Ho fame!” which is the classic translation for “I’m hungry!” in Italian.
Ho fame literally translates as I have hunger. This is because ho is the first-person present tense conjugation of avere (to have) and fame is a feminine noun that means hunger, famine or starvation.
Ho fame! Quando sarà pronta la cena?
I’m hungry! When will dinner be ready?
You can add extra emphasis to this phrase by including adverbs like tanta / tantissima or molta / moltissima, which mean “very” or “so”. Note that they are in their feminine form because fame is feminine.
Ho tantissima fame! Come farò a resistere fino all’ora di pranzo?
I’m sooo hungry! How am I going to last until lunchtime?
In colloquial speech, be prepared to hear people say C’ho fame! Without going into too much detail, all the pronominal particle ci does in this case is intensify the verb. C’ho (and the use of avere + ci in general) isn’t considered particular good Italian in purely grammatical terms, but it is used a lot in informal situations, and should not be ignored.
Yet another variation, which weakens rather than intensifies, is Ho una certa fame which literally translates as “I have a certain hunger“.
2. Che fame che ho!
Sometimes all you need to do is change the word order of a sentence to add extra emphasis.
The phrase “Che fame che ho!” is similar to the English construction “How hungry I am!” but it makes more sense to translate it as “I am so hungry!” or “Gosh, I’m hungry!“
Mamma mia, che fame che ho! Quasi quasi mi compro un panino.
Man, I’m so hungry. I might just buy a sandwich.
You can also abbreviate this phrase to just Che fame!
3. Sono affamato/a!
This phrase contains the verb affamare, which means to starve or to let (someone) go hungry. The past participle affamato (or affamata for a woman) is just another way of saying hungry, although I’d argue that it implies a more intense hunger than fame. Their respective plurals are affamati (masculine, plural) and affamate (feminine, plural).
Of all the expressions here, sono affamato/a is the closest to I am hungry in terms of its grammatical construction.
Sono veramente affamato. Eppure ho fatto una colazione abbondante.
I’m really hungry. And yet I had an abundant breakfast.
Note that both affamato and hungry have a figurative meaning too, which is “to have a strong desire of craving”. For example, to be hungry for success translates as essere affamato di successo.
4. Ho una fame da lupo / lupi!
Many idiomatic phrases in Italian involve wolves (lupi), and this one is no exception!
Ho una fame da lupo / da lupi quite literally means I have the hunger of a wolf / of wolves.
Ho una fame da lupo! A che ora mangiamo?
I am so hungry! What time are we eating?
Sometimes you might hear the alternative expression Sono allupato/a! but it’s more commonly used in a sexual context to mean I’m randy / horny. (The verb allupare, from which allupato derives, comes from the noun lupo.)
5. Sto morendo di fame!
Here we have an expression that occurs in English as well. Sto morendo means I am dying and di fame means of hunger.
Sto morendo di fame. Conosci un ristorante nelle vicinanze?
I’m dying of hunger. Do you know of a restaurant nearby?
A couple of closely related expressions that also refer to death and dying are “Potrei morire di fame!” (I could die of hunger!) andHo una fame da morti! (I have the hunger of dead people!) but they are less common, the latter especially.
6.Non ci vedo più dalla fame!
Here is an expression that does not really have an equivalent in English. Non ci vedo means I can’t see, so the expression translates as I can no longer see from hunger. As you can imagine, people use this phrase when their hunger is on the verge of becoming unbearable.
A pranzo ho mangiato un panino al volo e adesso non ci vedo più dalla fame.
For lunch, I ate a quick sandwich and now I am starving.
An uncommon rewording of this phrase is Ho una fame da non vederci! (lit. I am so hungry that I can’t see!)
7. Ho appetito
Appetito is, as you might have guessed, how you would say appetite in Italian. Combine it with the verb avere, and it can translate as hungry, although it has a more polite ring than the other examples seen here. For example:
- Ho un certo appetito = I am kind of hungry / I have a slight appetite
- Ho molto appetito = I’m very hungry / I have a big appetite
La ringrazio, ma non ho appetito.
Thank you, but I’m not hungry.
8. Ho un languorino
Our final phrase is for the more advanced learners among us. Languorino is a word you won’t find in most dictionaries, and that’s because it is the diminutive form of languore (a state of extreme weakness, emptiness or hunger). Whereas languore has various meanings, the diminutive form tends to be used only for hunger.
This word is applicable in situations where we might use peckish in English, or when your stomach starts to rumble from hunger pangs. It is often accompanied by the words certo (certain) and allo stomaco (in my stomach) as in the example phrase below:
Ho un certo languorino allo stomaco. C’è qualcosa da mangiare in frigo?
I’m feeling a bit peckish. Is there anything in the fridge to eat?
Another common variation on this phrase is Mi sta venendo un certo languorino.