Italian Word of the Day: Aquila (eagle)

The Italian word for eagle is aquila. Both the Italian and English terms share the same origin, which is the Latin aquila.

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

Because aquila is a feminine noun that starts with a vowel, it takes the following definite and indefinite articles:

the eagle

an eagle

le aquile
the eagles

delle aquile
(some) eagles

Two of the most well-known eagles in the world are the aquila reale (golden eagle, lit. ‘royal eagle’) and the aquila di mare testabianca (bald eagle), also mistakenly called aquila calva from the translation of the English term (calva = bald).

In picchiata, l’aquila reale può superare i trecento chilometri orari!

The golden eagle can dive at speeds of over 300 kilometres an hour.

Bald Eagle

Did you know that…?
The word for kite in Italian is aquilone, which is the combination of aquila and the augmentative suffix -one meaning “big”. In other words, aquilone literally translates as “big eagle”!

Note, however, that if you want to talk about the bird, such as the red kite for example, the Italian word is nibbio. (Red kite translates as nibbio reale.)

L’Aquila (the article is an integral part of the name) is a city in the Abruzzo region in central Italy.

Aquile are renowned for their exceptional eyesight and intelligence, so it should come as little surprise that the word has received the figurative meaning of “genius”. However, its usage is limited to negative statements suggesting the opposite, such as:

Giulio non è proprio un’aquila in matematica.

Giulio isn’t exactly a math genius.

Just as we say eagle-eyed in English to describe someone who is very observant, you can use the expressions occhio d’aquila (eagle eye), sguardo d’aquila (eagle look), and vista d’aquila (eagle sight) in Italian.

Finally, a nido d’aquila (eagle’s nest) can refer to a lonely place on top of a mountain, whereas the idiomatic expression avere la vecchiaia dell’aquila (lit. to have the old age of an eagle) means that an elderly person is in good health and lives a respectable life.

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