Italian Word of the Day: Paffuto (chubby / plump)

One of my favourite Italian words of all time is the onomatopoetic paffuto which translates as chubby or plump in reference to people and certain body parts.


Unlike grasso (fat) which could be interpreted as an insult, paffuto has a cute ring to it and tends to be used to describe children more than adults.

Because it is an adjective, the ending changes according to the gender and/or plurality of the subject being described.

  • paffuto = masculine, singular
  • paffuta = feminine, singular
  • paffuti = masculine, plural
  • paffute = feminine, plural

Although most often used to describe the face (viso) and cheeks (guance), you can also use it to talk about other specific body parts like the arms (braccia), hands (mani) and legs (gambe).

Il bambino ha le guance rosse e paffute.

The baby has plump red cheeks.

Baby sleeping
Che guance paffute che ha questa bimba! – What chubby cheeks this baby girl has!

Diventare paffuto translates as to plump out.

The diminutive form is paffutello which means the same thing as paffuto but sounds even more endearing.

If you’re looking for a synonym for paffuto, rest assured there are plenty including:

  • grassottello = derived from grasso (fat)
  • grassoccio = derived from grasso (fat)
  • pienotto = the diminutive of pieno (full)
  • cicciotto = derived from ciccia (fat)

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