Italian Word of the Day: Albero (tree)

Today is Arbor Day (La Festa degli Alberi), a holiday dedicated to planting trees, so what better word to choose as ‘word of the day’ than albero (masculine, plural: alberi). It comes from the Latin arbor of the same meaning.

italian word for tree

Learn with our video

cover image with the word “albero” and its translation written on a notepad next to a cup of cofee

Some verbs that often appear alongside albero include:

  • piantare un albero = to plant a tree
  • abbattere un albero = to chop down a tree
  • salire su un albero = to climb a tree
  • potare un albero = to trim a tree

L’Etiopia ha annunciato di aver piantato più di 350 milioni di alberi in meno di un giorno.

Ethiopia announced it has planted more than 350 million trees in less than a day.

A big tree can be referred to as an albero grande, or you can use the augmentative form alberone.

Alberello is the diminutive form that means young tree or sapling whereas alberetto is a small tree.

Cherry tree under the mountain
Un albero sotto la montagna – A tree at the bottom of the mountain

Trees are made up of underlying roots (radici), an elongated stem or trunk (tronco) covered in bark (corteccia), supporting branches (rami) and leaves (foglie) in most species. Coniferous trees (conifere) such as pine and fir produce both sap (linfa) and resin (resina) whereas deciduous (deciduo) trees such as maple and oak only produce sap.

If you’ve ever seen a tree stump (troncone), you’ve probably noticed that it has a series of rings (anelli). These rings can tell us the age of the tree, and what the weather was like during each year of its life.

Happy girl trying to put red decorative star on top of Christmas tree while decorating it
È ora di addobbare l’albero di natale! – It’s time to decorate the Christmas tree!

By extension, albero can denote anything that has a branching structure resembling that of a tree such as, for example:

  • albero genealogico = family tree
  • albero bronchiale = bronchial tree
  • diagramma ad albero = tree diagram

Clara sta facendo un albero genealogico per scoprire le sue radici.

Clara is preparing a family tree to discover her roots.

In addition to tree, there are two other possible translations for albero, which are the mast of a ship or a shaft in mechanical terms.

  • albero maestro / di maestra = mainmast
  • albero di trinchetto = foremast
  • albero di mezzana = mizzen mast
  • albero motore = driveshaft
  • albero di trasmissione = gear shaft
  • albero a gomiti = crankshaft
Mainmast of a Spanish galleon, with his scales and sails
L’albero maestro = the mainmast

Idioms with the word ‘albero’

Guardare l’albero e perdere di vista la foresta

  • Literal translation: to look at the tree and lose sight of the forest
  • Meaning: to be too involved in a situation to understand it clearly
  • English equivalent: to be unable to see the woods / the forest for the trees

Restare sull’albero a cantare

  • Literal translation: to stay on the tree singing
  • Meaning: to be fooled, to be the victim of a scam often because of one’s own naivety
  • English equivalent: none

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