How to Say “Butterfly” in Italian – Farfalla

One of the most well-loved creatures on the planet is the butterfly, known as farfalla in Italian.

cover image with the word “farfalla” and a swallawtail in the background

It is a feminine noun, so the definite and indefinite articles it takes are as follows:

la farfalla
the butterfly

una farfalla
a butterfly

le farfalle
the butterflies

delle farfalle
(some) butterflies

If this word sounds strangely familiar, this is because farfalle is also a type of pasta whose shape resembles a butterfly. It is often referred to as butterfly pasta in English.

Interestingly, farfalla, cravatta di farfalla and farfallino are different ways of saying bow-tie in Italian because its shape is reminiscent of a butterfly.

Add on the suffix –one (meaning big) and you get farfallone, the word for a womaniser. This kind of man jumps from one woman to the next, in the same way that a butterfly goes after every flower.

Farfalla is also the name for the butterfly stroke in swimming and the throttle valve in an engine.

Finally, there are other words and expressions that include the word farfalla:

  • Navigare a farfalla = to navigate at full sail
  • Circuito a farfalla = butterfly circuit (electronics)
  • Ago a farfalla = butterfly needle
  • Effetto farfalla = butterfly effect
  • Farfalla di mare = sea butterfly
  • Pesce farfalla = butterfly fish

Useful phrases:

Ho visto una farfalla volare in giardino.

I saw a butterfly flying in the garden.

Voglio piantare dei fiori che attraggano le farfalle.

I want to plant flower that attract butterflies.

Quel farfallone passa continuamente da una donna all’altra.

That playboy is always flitting from one woman to another.

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