Italian Word of the Day: Infradito (flip-flops)

Infradito is a type of summer shoe in leather, rubber, straw or plastic, in which the sole is secured to the foot by a strip (called a toe post) that passes between the big toe and the second toe. In English, we’d call these shoes flip-flops, thong sandals or toe-post sandals depending on the style.

It is a combination of the prefix infra- (between) and dito (finger / toe).


There are two interesting things to note about the word infradito. First is that its ending doesn’t change in the plural. Second is that it can be either masculine or feminine depending on the type of footwear in question.

In the first sentence below, for example, we can assume that infradito is a synonym for ciabatte da piscina / mare (a feminine noun meaning flip-flops or pool shoes) because the feminine definite article le precedes infradito.

Marco ha tolto le infradito prima di entrare in piscina.

Marco took off his flip-flops before getting into the pool.

Colorful flip flops on sand, 3D illustration
Le infradito

In the second sentence, the definite article gli reveals that infradito is masculine this time, so we know that Maria was probably wearing sandali (a masculine noun meaning sandals) with a toe post.

Maria indossava degli infradito alla festa.

Maria wore toe-post sandals to the party.

Yellow dress and beige sandals. Sandals, dress and black purse. Stylish dress with classic handbag. Lady's outfit with dark accessory.
Gli infradito

Note that infradito can also refer to the strip/toe post of the shoe itself, in which case it is masculine.

If you want to remove all ambiguity, you can place the word infradito as an adjective after the kind of shoe to specify the presence of a toe post. For example:

  • ciabatte infradito = flip-flops / pool shoes / thong slippers
  • sandali infradito = toe-post sandals / thong sandals
  • zoccoli infradito = clogs

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