Italian Word of the Day: Aeroplano (airplane)

The Italian word for airplane is aeroplano. It derives from the Latin aer (air) and planus (plane) via the French aéroplane (which has since been replaced by avion).

italian word for airplane

It is a masculine noun starting with a vowel, so it takes the following definite and indefinite articles:

  • l’aeroplano = the airplane
  • gli aeroplani = the airplanes
  • un aeroplano = an airplane
  • (degli) aeroplani = (some) airplanes

Contrary to popular belief, the everyday term for airplane, aereo, isn’t an abbreviation of aeroplano but rather the noun form of the adjective aereo (aerial / air). It can be seen in words like attacco aereo (air attack) and posta aerea (air mail). Curiously, many Italians tend to mispronounce and misspell the word as *aereoplano due to the belief that aereo is a derivative of aeroplano!

Men pilots going away from aircraft tail on takeoff strip in the evening
Sono appena scesi dall’aeroplano. = They just got off the airplane.

A colloquial form of this word is areoplano, with the letters ‘e’ and ‘r’ inverted.

Questo aeroplano è molto grande!
Questo areoplano è molto grande!

This airplane is really big!

A jet plane in Italian is known as an aeroplano a reazione, although the english word is also used. A small aircraft can be described as piccolo aeroplano (the diminutive aeroplanino also exists but is not common).

Here are a few useful verbs you will see used with aereo. Note that with verbs, it is rare to use the full form aeroplano.

  • andare in aereo = to go by plane
  • pilotare un aereo = to fly a plane
  • prendere un aereo = to catch/take a plane
  • perdere un aereo = to miss a plane
  • viaggiare in aereo = to travel by plane
  • salire su un aereo = to get on a plane
  • scendere da un aereo = to get off a plane

Sbrighiamoci, non vogliamo perdere l’aereo!

Let’s hurry up, we don’t want to miss the plane!

Airline captain in headphones showing approval gesture and smiling while sitting in aircraft pilot cabin
Sta pilotando un aereo. = He’s flying a plane.

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