Italian Word of the Day: Mela (apple)

The Italian word for apple is mela (feminine, plural: mele) and the tree upon which they grow is called melo.

IPA: /ˈme.la/

Both words derive from the Latin word “mālum” meaning “any tree-fruit fleshy on the outside and having a kernel within.” (Lewis & Short Latin Dictionary)

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Today it forms the basis of many fruit names in Italian including melone (melon), melagrana (pomegranate), mela cotogna (quince) and even melanzana (eggplant).

Cerco di mangiare una mela ogni giorno.

I try to eat an apple every day.


Apples can be used to make many different products including:

  • succo di mela = apple juice
  • sidro di mele = apple cider
  • aceto di mele = apple cider vinegar
  • mela caramellata = candy apple
  • torta di mele = apple pie
  • mousse di mela = apple sauce

The expression bad apple (mela marcia) exists in both English and Italian. It refers to a bad or corrupt person, especially one whose negative behaviour is likely to have a detrimental influence on others in a group.

Another apple-related expression that appears in both languages is:

Una mela al giorno toglie il medico di torno.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.


Raccolta delle meleApple picking

If you say that someone is bianco e rosso come una mela (as white and red as an apple) in Italian, you are commenting on their healthy appearance!

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