How to Say “Happy Birthday!” in Italian – Buon Compleanno!

If you have an Italian friend, significant other or relative whose special day is on the horizon, a sure-fire way to impress them is to learn how to say Happy Birthday in Italian!

how to say happy birthday in italian

The official greeting is Buon Compleanno, with buon meaning ‘good‘ and compleanno meaning ‘birthday‘.

IPA: /buò·n com·ple·àn·no/

Important: In Italian, felice (the actual word for happy) is rarely a substitute for buon (good). You most likely see felice compleanno in longer sentences such as Ti auguro un felice compleanno (I wish you a happy birthday).

Buon compleanno. Spero che tutti i tuoi desideri si avverino.

Happy birthday. I hope all your wishes come true.

In speech, another popular greeting is Tanti auguri (or even more simply Auguri) which is the Italian for Best wishes. It can be used, not only for birthdays, but any special occasion including anniversaries, the new year, graduations and so on.

Tanti auguri! Non vedo l’ora per la tua festa!

Happy Birthday! I can’t wait for your party!

If you’re writing a card or a letter, buon compleanno tends to be the primary choice. Sometimes you’ll even see the two expressions combined:

Tanti auguri di buon compleanno!

Best wishes for a happy birthday!

Close up of three generation family sitting together at the kitchen table celebrating the pre-teen daughter's birthday with a birthday cake
Tanti auguri di buon compleanno, figlia mia! = Best wishes for a happy birthday, my daughter!

Another popular expression is Auguroni! which is formed by adding the plural augmentative suffix -oni onto the end of auguri. It literally means big wishes.

Happy Birthday Wishes and Greetings in Italian

When writing a birthday card, it can be a challenge to think of something touching to write in English, let alone in Italian! To get you started, we’ve listed a few basic greetings that you might find inspiring:

  • Tanti auguri di buon compleanno alla persona migliore che conosco. = Happy birthday to the best person I know.
  • Auguri di buon compleanno dal profondo del cuore. = Happy birthday wishes from the bottom of the heart.
  • Buon compleanno! Che questa giornata possa trascorrere serena e piena di gioia. = Happy birthday! May this day be serene and full of joy.

In lieu of using the birthday boy or girl’s name in your card, you may wish to address them according to their relationship to you instead.

mamma = mom
papà = dad
sorella = sister
fratello = brother

amico/a = friend
amore = love
nonno = granddad
nonna = grandma

figlio = son
figlia = daughter
zio = uncle
zia = aunt

Buon compleanno, amico mio!

Happy birthday, my friend!

You may also wish to mention their age in your greeting, particularly if they are celebrating a landmark birthday. Below are a few of the most important milestones worth celebrating:

Buon primo compleanno!
Happy 1st birthday!

Buon sedicesimo compleanno!
Happy 16th birthday!

Buon diciottesimo compleanno!
Happy 18th birthday!

Buon ventunesimo compleanno!
Happy 21st birthday!

Buon trentesimo compleanno!
Happy 30th birthday!

Buon quarantesimo compleanno!
Happy 40th birthday!

Buon cinquantesimo compleanno!
Happy 50th birthday!

Buon sessantesimo compleanno!
Happy 60th birthday!

Buon settantesimo compleanno!
Happy 70th birthday!

Buon ottantesimo compleanno!
Happy 80th birthday!

Buon novantesimo compleanno!
Happy 90th birthday!

Buon centesimo compleanno!
Happy 100th birthday!

16th birthday cake
Lei sta festeggiando il suo sedicesimo compleanno. = She’s celebrating her 16th birthday.

If a dear friend or relative has a good sense of humour, you can wish them a happy birthday by teasing them about their age.

Auguroni zio! Stai invecchiando, ma ti vogliamo bene lo stesso!

Happy birthday uncle! You’re getting old, but we love you all the same!

Or you can turn the ageing joke to something complementary with a phrase such as:

Buon compleanno zio. È vero stai invecchiando ma, come il vino buono, invecchiando migliori!

Happy birthday uncle! It’s true you’re getting older but, like a good wine, getting old makes you a better person!

Mother and baby boy smiling with birthday cake
Doljanchi is a Korean tradition that celebrates the first birthday of a baby. = Il doljanchi è una tradizione coreana per celebrare il primo compleanno di un bambino.

The Happy Birthday Song in Italian

The Happy Birthday Song in Italian is remarkably similar to its English counterpart, both in terms of its melody and lyrics!

Tanti auguri a te
Tanti auguri a te
Tanti auguri a [nome]
Tanti auguri a te!

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear [name]
Happy birthday to you

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Instead of saying tanti auguri a [name] in the third line, you can also say tanti auguri felici (many happy wishes), tanti giorni felici (many happy days), or tanti auguri caro/a [name] (many wishes dear [name]).

And to add a funny twist to the traditional song, you can replace the last line with E la torta a me! (literally “And the cake for me!“)

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