Italian Word of the Day: Cappello (hat)

The word for hat or cap in Italian is cappello (masculine, plural: cappelli). It derives from the Latin cappellus which in turn comes from the word cappa meaning hood.

/kapˈpɛllo/

When pronouncing this word, it is very important to clearly enunciate the double pp so as to avoid confusion with the similar sounding capello, the Italian word for hair!

Although it is possible to say cappello piccolo to describe a small hat, you’ll be more likely to hear the diminutive cappellino which is formed by adding the suffix -ino onto the end of cappello.

La mamma indossa un cappello giallo e suo figlio un cappellino rosso.

The mum wears a yellow hat and her son a little red hat.


There are many different kinds of hats that people like to wear including:

  • cappello a cilindro = top hat
  • cappello da baseball = baseball cap
  • cappello da cuoco = chef’s hat
  • cappello di lana = wool hat
  • cappello da cowboy = cowboy hat
  • cappello da sole = sun hat

Note: A cap is normally referred to as a berretto rather than a cappello. You may also encounter the word copricapo (lit: head cover), which is a generic term for any garment used to protect the head from cold, sun or bad weather.

hat on the beach
Qualcuno ha perso il cappello sulla spiaggia. = Someone has lost their hat on the beach.

Some common verbs you’ll frequently see used with cappello include:

  • mettersi il cappello = to put on one’s hat
  • togliersi il cappello = to take off one’s hat
  • levarsi il cappello = to take off one’s hat
  • portare un cappello = to wear a hat
  • tenere il cappello in testa = to keep one’s hat on

Mettiti il cappello quando esci. Oggi il sole batte forte.

Wear your hat when you go out. The sun is very strong.


By extension, the word cappello can be used to describe objects that resemble hats or have a hat-like form such as, for example, the cap of a mushroom (cappello di un fungo) or a lampshade (cappello della lampada).

wild mushrooms with orange top

In a figurative sense, cappello also translates as preamble or introduction in the context of a written paper or presentation.


Expressions featuring the word ‘cappello’

Far tanto di cappello a qualcuno

Literal translation: to take your hat off to someone
English meaning:
to take your hat off to someone, to recognise a person’s excellence or superiority


Prendere cappello

Literal translation: to take hat
English meaning:
to be hurt by something, to be offended, to be angry


Fare un giro di cappello

Literal translation: to send the hat around
English meaning:
to beg, to collect donations


Portare il cappello sulle ventitré

Literal translation: to wear a hat on the 23 (hour)
English meaning:
to wear a hat tilted to one side

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