Italian Word of the Day: Ciottolo (pebble)

A sasso (stone) that has been made smooth and round by the action of water is a ciottolo (pebble) in Italian. It is the diminutive form of ciotto, an archaic word for pebble.


Ciottolo is a masculine noun whose plural form is ciottoli. The definite and indefinite articles it takes are as follows:

  • il ciottolo = the pebble
  • i ciottoli = the pebbles
  • un ciottolo = a pebble
  • dei ciottoli = (some) pebbles

Prese un ciottolo e lo gettò nell’acqua.

He picked up a pebble and threw it in the water.

Background shot of pastel coloured stones.

Here are three of the most common types of pebbles:

  • ciottolo della spiaggia = beach pebble
  • ciottolo del torrente = stream pebble
  • ciottolo del fiume = river pebble

Note: Ciottolo should not be confused with the similar sounding ciotola which means bowl or dish!

The adjective ciottoloso means pebbly, but when used to refer to the surface of a path or road, it translates as cobblestone. For example, a cobblestone road would be una strada a ciottoli.

In Tuscany, ciottolo is also the word for a terracotta dish.

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