Italian Word of the Day: Rana (frog)

The Italian word for a frog is rana. It derives from the Latin word of the same spelling.

/rà·na/
cover image with the word “rana” and its translation written on a notepad next to a cup of coffee

Rana is a feminine noun. Its plural is rane.

la rana
una rana

le rane
delle rane

Among the most well-known types of frogs there is the rana rossa (common frog), rana toro (American bullfrog) and the rana verde comune (edible frog). The rana verde is also called ranocchio (masculine noun), the term used in fairy tales such as La Principessa e il Ranocchio (The Princess and the Frog).

Rana and ranocchio can also be used figuratively to denote a short, ugly person, but only the latter is also an affectionate term Italians use with children.

Some terms often associated with frogs include:

  • stagno = pond
  • palmipede / piede palmato = web-footed
  • cra cra = ribbit
  • gracidare = to croak
  • saltellare = to hop
  • girino = tadpole
  • anfibio = amphibian

La rana saltò nello stagno gracidando.

The frog jumped into the pond with a croak.


Tree Frogs Flying Frog Sitting on a Green Leaf
Una raganella = A tree frog

Note: A toad is known as a rospo (masculine, plural: rospi) in Italian.

In English, what we call the breaststroke (a swimming technique) is known as la rana in Italian.

Dopo aver imparato lo stile cagnolino, ho provato a nuotare a rana.

After learning the dog-paddle, I tried doing the breaststroke.


Finally, a uomo rana (lit. frogman) is a synonym for sommozzatore (scuba diver), and was initially used to indicate scuba divers in the Italian police force.

Scuba diver reaches towards a majestic manta ray underwater.
L’uomo rana incontra un manta gigantesca. = A scubadiver meets a giant manta ray.

Idioms featuring the word ‘rana’

Avere le gambe come una rana

Literal translation: to have legs like a frog
English meaning: to have legs that stick out to the side


Camminare come una rana

Literal translation: to walk like a frog
English meaning: to hop


Essere gonfio come una rana

Literal translation: to be as puffed up as a frog
English meaning: to be full of pride, arrogance

An alternative to this idiom is fare come la rana con il bue (lit. to do like the frog with the ox). It refers to a fable written by Fedro, in which a jealous frog drinks to the point of exploding because it wishes to become as big as the ox it saw earlier in the day.


Cantare come una rana

Literal translation: to sing like a frog
English meaning: to sing poorly and off-key


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