Italian Word of the Day: Coccinella (ladybug / ladybird)

Coccinella is the word for ladybug (US) or ladybird (UK) in Italian. It derives from the Latin coccinus, which in turn comes from the Greek kókkinos, meaning ‘scarlet red colour’.

/coc·ci·nèl·la/
cover image with the word “coccinella” and a ladybug in the background

It is a feminine noun whose plural form is coccinelle. The definite and indefinite articles it takes are as follows:

la coccinella
the ladybug

una coccinella
a ladybug

le coccinelle
the ladybugs

delle coccinelle
(some) ladybugs

Le coccinelle sono piccoli insetti colorati a forma di cupola.

Ladybugs are small colourful dome-shaped insects.


A macro shot of a ladybug on a blade of grass.

Did you know that…?
In Florence, the coccinella is called Lucia, most likely because it is popularly associated with the Sicilian saint of the same name. It is believed that if you hold this insect and allow it to fly away, your sight will be protected. On the contrary, if you harm or, worse still, kill the ladybug, you will suffer from sight issues.

Le Coccinelle is the section in the Scouts organisation for girls and boys aged eight to eleven years old. In some associations, ladybugs are just girls. The coccinella was chosen by Father Agostino Ruggi d’Aragona, the then central assistant of the Associazione Guide Italiane (Italian Guide Association), as in many countries the ladybug is a symbol of luck and in some legends, linked to the Madonna.

There is also a masculine version, coccinello, but it has nothing to do with bugs. It is a type of peg to connect two cables.


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