Italian Word of the Day: Attonito (astonished)

One way of saying astonished, speechless or shocked in Italian is attonito. Being an adjective, it also has a feminine form (attonita), as well as masculine and feminine plural forms (attoniti and attonite).


The word has an interesting origin according to Treccani. It comes from the Latin attonitus which itself is a derivative of the verb tonare (to thunder). The association between astonishment and thunder stems from the idea that people are easily shocked by the crash of thunder.

Attonito usually appears in the company of the following verbs, all of which translate as to be astonished (by).

  • essere attonito (per / da) = literally ‘to be astonished (by)’
  • rimanere attonito (per / da) = literally ‘to remain astonished (by)’
  • restare attonito (per / da) = literally ‘to stay astonished (by)’

Non appena egli posò gli occhi sulla principessa, rimase attonito dalla sua bellezza.

As soon as he set eyes on the princess, he was stunned by her beauty.

Photo of a beautiful shocked woman indoors in cafe using laptop computer and mobile phone.
È rimasta attonita per la notizia. – She was stunned by the news.

It is often used to describe the appearance of the face, as in a sguardo attonito (shocked gaze) or espressione attonita (astonished expression).

Some possible synonyms for attonito include:

  • stupito = amazed, astonished
  • sorpreso = surprised
  • allibito = stunned, astounded (negative)
  • sbigottito = startled, dismayed
  • meravigliato = astonished, amazed (positive)
  • impressionato = shocked, impressed

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