Italian Word of the Day: Angelo (angel)

Today’s word of the day is part of our Italian Christmas Word Advent Calendar series. Each day throughout December, we’ll post a word that is related to the holiday season. Enjoy!

The Italian word for angel looks and sounds extremely similar to its English equivalent: angelo (masculine, plural: angeli).

IPA: /ˈan.dʒe.lo/

Angeli play an important role in the Christian religion, as they are believed to be divine messengers of heaven (paradiso) sent to earth to act as intermediaries between God (Dio) and his people. In art and literature, they are often depicted with wings (ali) and a halo (aureola) above their heads, singing and playing musical instruments (strumenti musicali).

L’angelo è un simbolo di purezza e innocenza.

The angel is a symbol of purity and innocence.

One of the most well-known angels is the cherub (cherubino), a chubby male child with wings much like Cupid (Cupido).

Two cherubs (due cherubini) in a famous painting by Raffaello

Below are some other kinds of angels you might have heard of:

  • angelo della neve = snow angel
  • angelo caduto = fallen angel
  • angelo custode = guardian angel
  • angelo della morte = angel of death
  • arcangelo = archangel

Angelo is one of many terms of endearment you can use with your partner whereas angioletto can be an affectionate nickname for a young child.

Tu sei il mio angelo!

You’re my angel!

It also serves as the basis for the adjective angelico which means angelic or of angels.

Finally we have the idiom discutere sul sesso degli angeli which literally translates as to debate the gender of the angels. It means that you are debating something useless or talking about nothing of importance.

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