Italian Word of the Day: Paradiso (paradise / heaven)

Whereas in English, we distinguish between the words paradise and heaven, there is just one word in Italian: paradiso (masculine, plural: paradisi). It comes from the Latin word paradisus which in turn derives from the Greek paradisos.

italian word for heaven

Paradiso, in the sense of heaven, is the place regarded in various religions as the abode of God, the angels and the good after death. It is often (though not always) capitalised. Below are a few common verbs you’ll see used with this word:

  • andare in paradiso = to go to heaven
  • meritare / meritarsi il paradiso = to deserve (to go to) heaven
  • guadagnarsi il paradiso = to earn (one’s place in) heaven
  • volare in paradiso = to die, usually at a young age (lit. to fly in heaven)
  • giocarsi il paradiso = to live in sin without repenting (lit: to gamble paradise)

I cristiani credono nel Paradiso.

Christians believe in Heaven.

steps in sand dune going up towards a blue sky
Scala per il paradiso = Stairway to heaven

Another name for the giardini dell’Eden (Garden of Eden) where Adam and Eve lived in the biblical account of the Creation is paradiso terrestre (earthly paradise).

Note: Italians also use the word cielo (sky) to refer to heaven in a metaphorical sense.

Paradiso can also refer to a pleasant, peaceful or enjoyable place here on earth.

Questo posto è un paradiso!

This place is a paradise!

Idyllic beach on the Perhentian islands in Malaysia
Siamo in paradiso! = We are in paradise!

One specific situation where paradiso translates as haven is in the expression paradiso fiscale (tax haven).

A bird of paradise is known as an uccello del paradiso.

Idioms featuring ‘paradiso’

Voler andare in paradiso in carrozza

Literal translation: wanting to go to heaven in a carriage
English meaning: wanting to obtain something with little effort or sacrifice

Avere qualche santo in paradiso

Literal translation: to have some saint in heaven
English meaning: to be well-connected, to have friends in high places

Toccare il paradiso con un dito

Literal translation: to touch heaven with a finger
English meaning: to achieve maximum happiness

Voler entrare / stare in paradiso a dispetto dei santi

Literal translation: wanting to enter / stay in heaven in spite of the saints
English meaning: to enter a place where you are not welcome

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