Italian Word of the Day: Orologio (clock / watch)

The word for both clock and watch in Italian is orologio (masculine, plural: orologi). It comes from the Latin horologium which in turn derives from the Greek ὡρολόγιον (hōrológion), a combination of the words ὥρα (orahour) and λέγω (direto say/tell).

IPA: /o.roˈlɔ.d͡ʒo/

If you want to specify that you are talking about a wristwatch instead of a wall clock (orologio da muro / parete), you can use the more specific term orologio da polso.

Il mio orologio segna le dieci in punto.

My watch says that it is 10 o’clock on the dot.

clock on a wall inside a studying room
C’è un orologio sul muro. = There is a clock on the wall.

Below are some common verbs you’ll often see used when talking about orologi in Italian:

  • caricare un orologio = to wind up a clock
  • guardare l’orologio = to look at the clock
  • mettere avanti l’orologio = to put the clock forward
  • mettere indietro l’orologio = to put the clock back
  • rimettere l’orologio = to reset one’s watch

A traditional clock or watch is made up of the following components:

  • faccia / quadrante = face
  • numeri = numbers
  • bracciale / cinturino = strap
  • corona = crown
  • lancetta delle ore = hour hand
  • lancetta dei minuti = minute hand
analog watch
Gli orologi analogici hanno un fascino unico. = Analog clocks have a unique appeal.

Although digital watches (orologi digitali) have become popular these days, many people still prefer the look and feel of a classic mechanical watch (orologio meccanico). Some other well-known kinds of orologi include:

  • orologio solare = sundial
  • orologio a pendolo = grandfather clock
  • orologio da tasca = pocket watch
  • orologio da torre = clock tower
  • orologio a cucù = cuckoo clock
  • orologio analogico = analog clock
  • orologio biologico = biological clock
  • orologio da sabbia / clessidra = hourglass / sand clock / egg timer
  • orologio al quarzo = quartz clock

The expression d’orologio (literally of the clock) is another way of saying esattamente (exactly) in Italian. For example, the translation of the phrase Il concerto ha durato due ore d’orologio would be The concert lasted exactly two hours.

woman looking at her wrist watch
Il mio orologio spacca il minuto. = My watch is very precise.

Expressions featuring the word ‘orologio’

Essere preciso / puntuale come un orologio svizzero

Literal translation: to be as precise / punctual as a Swiss watch
English meaning: to be extremely punctual, like clockwork

Stare con l’orologio alla mano

Literal translation: to stay with a watch in one’s hand
English meaning: to act with great punctuality and speed

Andare / funzionare come un orologio

Literal translation: to go / work like a clock
English meaning: to work with extreme precision

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