Italian Word of the Day: Contento (happy / pleased / glad / content)

While it might be tempting to assume that the Italian adjective contento is the direct counterpart of the English content, it actually encompasses a slightly broader range of meanings as we’ll soon discover.

The most common translations for contento are glad and happy. Like its English counterparts, it denotes a subdued or contained kind of happiness.


happy / glad / content / pleased

/con·tèn·to/ – [konˈtɛnto]
italian word contento

Sono contento di vederti.

I’m glad / happy to see you.

Aveva un’espressione molto contenta.

She had a very happy expression.

It can also be used ironically, as in the following phrase.

E va bene, sei più bravo di me. Sei contento adesso?

Ok, whatever, you’re better than me. Are you happy now?

Three additional translations are satisfied, pleased and, of course, content. It can be used to describe the feeling of being fulfilled or self-realised.

Sono molto contento dei risultati. 

I’m very satisfied / content / pleased with the results.

The ending of contento varies based on the gender and number of the subject it describes.

  • contento = masculine, singular
  • contenti = masculine, plural
  • contenta = feminine, singular
  • contente = feminine, plural

Contento is derived from the Latin word contĕntus, which is the past participle of the verb continere, meaning “to contain,” and by extension, “to be satisfied or content with something.”

Woman smiling with perfect smile and white teeth over urban wall with grafitti.

A few related terms include:

  • contentare = to make (someone) happy
  • contentarsi = to be happy / satisfied / pleased
  • accontentare = to please / to satisfy
  • accontentarsi = to settle for something / be happy with
  • contentezza = happiness / contentment
  • contentino = something to keep someone happy / sweetener

At the end of most Italian fairy tales, you’ll come across the phrase “E vissero felici e contenti,” which translates to “And they all lived happily ever after” in English. Interestingly, in the Italian version, the word happy is reiterated twice, as both felice and contento convey the same meaning.

Which brings us to the following question…

What’s the difference between ‘contento’ and ‘felice’?

Felice and contento both translate to ‘happy‘ in English. While they are sometimes used interchangeably, especially in casual conversation, they do carry nuanced differences in meaning.

Felice is often considered a state of profound satisfaction and overall well-being, characterised by a positive outlook on life. It embodies a deeper and more enduring form of contentment.

Contento, on the other hand, typically refers to smaller pleasures or temporary states of contentment. It conveys a sense of temporary or smaller-scale satisfaction.

Black man smiling at camera

Italian idiomatic expressions containing ‘contento’

Essere contento come una pasqua (also felice come una pasqua)

Literal translation: To be as happy as an Easter

English meaning: To be very happy

Cuorcontento (also cuor contento)

Literal translation: Heart-happy

English meaning: Happy-go-lucky, carefree

Ethics statement: Below you will find affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!

Lingopie (affiliate link) is the Netflix of language learning application that uses real TV shows and movies to help you learn a new language. You can choose a show to watch based on your fluency level, and use the interactive subtitles to get instant translations to help you learn quickly.

Are you interested in improving your Italian in a fun and stress-free manner? Then we highly recommend Serena Capilli's short stories in Italian (affiliate link), designed for beginners, advanced beginners, and lower intermediate learners (A1-B1 CEFR). These stories have been optimised for English speakers in search of a fun, laid-back learning experience! Read our full review here.

Leave a Comment