Italian Word of the Day: Colomba (dove)

Today’s word of the day is part of our Italian Easter Word series. Each day during the week leading up to Easter, we’ll post a word that is related to this special time of year. Enjoy! 🐰

The word colomba (plural: colombe) is the feminine form of the word colombo, the name given to the entire family of pigeons and doves. It frequently occurs in Christian literature and artwork as a symbol of innocence and purity.

IPA: /co·lóm·ba/

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A common Easter symbol is that of the colomba della pace (peace dove), usually depicted holding a ramoscello d’ulivo (olive branch) in its beak. This meaning most likely dates back to the Book of Genesis, which tells how a dove brought an olive branch back to Noah following the universal flood as a sign that the waters had subsided from the earth.

Da sempre la colomba è considerata un simbolo di purezza e innocenza.

The dove has always been considered a symbol of purity and innocence.


Colomba also has a couple of figurative translations, one being an innocent person and the other, a pacifist.

A counterpart of the well-known Italian Christmas cakes, the panettone and pandoro, is the colomba pasquale (or colomba di Pasqua), a traditional Easter cake in the shape of a dove made with flour, eggs, sugar, natural yeast, butter, candied peel, almonds and pearl sugar. Invented in Milano in the 1930s by the company Motta, it is the centrepiece on nearly all tables in Italian households over the Easter period.

Colomba pasquale, an Italian traditional Easter cake, the counterpart of the two well-known Italian Christmas desserts, panettone and pandoro.
La colomba pasquale

In non-religious and non-poetic contexts, the most common word for dove is tortora, along with its diminutive tortorella.


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