Italian Word of the Day: Pallina (bauble)

The word pallina (feminine, plural: palline) in Italian is the diminutive form of the word palla meaning ball.

IPA: /pal·lì·na/

Normally it would translate as little ball but in the context of Christmas, it can also be used to describe baubles that you hang on the Christmas tree. To specify that you are talking about Christmas baubles rather than some other kind of small ball, you can always add di Natale after the word pallina.

Sto cercando delle nuove palline di Natale per decorare l’albero.

I’m looking for some new Christmas baubles to decorate the tree.


Palline come in all shapes and sizes. Some are made of glass (vetro) whereas others are covered in sequins (paillette) or prints (stampe). Many people make a hobby out of collecting a new pallina every year.

Some other types of balls and small round objects that fall into the pallina category are as follows:

  • pallina = pellet (of food)
  • pallina di gomma da masticare = gumball
  • pallina dosatrice = dosing balls
  • pallina = scoop of ice cream
  • pallina di carta = spitball

For medium-sized balls such as tennis, golf or juggling balls, you are free to choose between palla and pallina when describing them.

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