Italian Word of the Day: Pulito (clean)

The adjective pulito, whose primary translation is clean in English, is the past participle of the verb pulire (to clean). It comes from the Latin verb polire of the same meaning.

IPA: /pu·lì·to/

Pulito is the masculine singular form of this adjective. In order to make it feminine, it is necessary to change the word final o to a (pulita).

È difficile tenere la casa sempre pulita!

It’s hard to keep the house clean all the time!

To create the respective plural forms, change o to i (plural masculine puliti) and a to e (plural feminine pulite).

Le tue mani non sono molto pulite. Le hai lavate bene?

Your hands aren’t very clean. Did you wash them well?

In other contexts, pulito can translate as clear (e.g. un cielo pulito = a clear sky), refined (e.g. uno stile pulito = a refined style), polished (e.g. marmo pulito = polished marble) or honest (e.g. un ragazzo pulito = an honest guy).

One related term you are bound to come across within weeks of living in Italy is pulizia which translates as cleanliness or cleaning. Note that the plural pulizie is used just as often, if not more frequently to mean the same thing. A few common terms and expressions include:

  • la pulizia / le pulizie di casa = house-cleaning
  • fare la pulizia / le pulizie = to clean (usually a house or office)
  • donna / uomo della pulizie = cleaning lady / man
  • le pulizie primaverili = spring cleaning

Expressions using the word ‘pulito’

Avere le mani pulite

Literal translation: to have clean hands
English meaning: to not be involved in dishonest activities

Farla pulita

Literal translation: to pass it clean
English meaning: get away with something, to avoid the punishment you deserve or overcome a danger without coming to harm

Mettere a pulito

Literal translation: to put it clean
English meaning: to transcribe a good copy

Fare piazza pulita

Literal translation: to make a clean square
English meaning: to send everyone away, to take everything away, to sweep away

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