Italian Word of the Day: Bruco (caterpillar)

As children, many of us are fascinated with the process by which a bruco (masculine, plural: bruchi) – the Italian word for caterpillar – turns into a butterfly (farfalla).

IPA: /ˈbru.ko/

The story begins with a caterpillar hatching from an egg (uovo). The caterpillar then stuffs itself with leaves, growing fatter and longer until one day, it stops eating, hangs upside down, and forms a cocoon (bozzolo) or chrysalis (crisalide). Within a short time – usually a week or two – the caterpillar transforms into butterfly or moth (falena).

caterpillar on a small brench
Un bruco verde = A green caterpillar

Il bruco è diventato una farfalla.

The caterpillar turned into a butterfly.

By extension, bruco may also refer to larvae of other insects including beetles and worms.

An extremely popular book for kids is Il Piccolo Bruco Maisazio (The Very Hungry Caterpillar). You can listen to the Italian version of the story by watching the YouTube video below.

In the Tuscan dialect, bruco may also refer to a very poor person.

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