Italian Word of the Day: Tazza (cup / mug)

The word for any small bowl-shaped drinking container with a handle is tazza in Italian. Unlike most Italian words which derive from Latin, the origin of the word tazza can be traced back to the Arabic ṭasa. Two possible translations in English are cup and mug.

cover image with the word “tazza” and its translation written on a notepad next to a cup of coffee

Tazza is a feminine noun. The plural is tazze.

la tazza
una tazza

le tazze
delle tazze

A mug may also be referred to as a tazzone / tazzona or tazza grande, both of which literally mean big cup. The diminutive tazzina, on the other hand, is normally used when talking about a small coffee cup.

La tazza di porcellana mi è scivolata di mano e si è frantumata in mille pezzi.

The china cup slipped out of my hand and smashed into a thousand pieces.

Woman's hand holding a coffee mug and pouring it into the coffee cup.
Sta versando il tè nella tazza. = She’s pouring the tea into the cup.

In addition to describing the drinking container itself, tazza may also denote its content, as in the following examples:

  • una tazza di tè = a cup of tea
  • una tazza di caffè = a cup of coffee
  • una tazza di cioccolata calda = a cup of hot chocolate
  • una tazza di brodo = a cup of broth

Important: If the preposition da is used instead of di, it is the purpose of the cup that is being described, rather than its contents. For example, una tazza da is a teacup, whereas una tazza di is a cup of tea.

Non c’è niente di meglio che bere una tazza di caffè di prima mattina.

There is nothing better than having a cup of coffee in the early morning.

Questa ricetta richiede due tazze di yogurt.

This recipe calls for two cups of yogurt.

Young woman with a cup of coffee
Che buona che è questa tazza di tè! = This cup of tea is so good!

Tazza is also one possible name for the toilet bowl, with the other being the English word water.

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