Italian Word of the Day: Caldo (hot / warm)

The word caldo can refer to anything that is hot or warm, be it the temperature, weather, food or clothing.

IPA: [ˈkaldo]

Because it is an adjective, the ending changes depending on whether the subject is masculine, feminine, and/or plural.

  • caldo = masculine, singular
  • calda = feminine, singular
  • caldi = masculine, plural
  • calde = feminine, plural

La minestra è ancora calda, ti servo un altro piatto?

The soup is still hot, do you want another bowl?

The way you’d say It is hot in Italian when talking about the weather is Fa caldo. Don’t forget that many weather-related expressions in Italian use the verb fare (to do/make) instead of essere (to be)!

Fa molto caldo oggi. Ti va di andare al mare a fare un bagno?

It is very hot today. Do you feel like going to the sea for a swim?

thirsty dog drinking from a bottle
Il cane ha molta sete per colpa del caldo. = The dog is very thirsty because of the heat.

Some common complaints you’ll definitely hear in Italy once the weather turns hot and humid in the summer months include:

  • Sto morendo di caldo! = The heat is killing me!
  • Fa un caldo boia! = It’s boiling hot!
  • Fa un caldo bestiale! = It’s boiling hot!
  • Che caldo che fa! = How hot it is!
  • Non sopporto il caldo! = I can’t stand the heat!

As we already saw from a couple of the examples above, caldo can also translate as heat when used as a noun.

Soffro il caldo anche d’inverno!

I suffer from the heat even in the winter!

In a figurative sense, caldo can be used to describe someone who is passionate, excitable or easily changeable (e.g. avere il sangue caldo = to be hot-blooded; avere la testa calda = to be hot-headed).

It may also describe displays of enthusiasm, affection or kindness (e.g. una calda accoglienza = a warm welcome; un caldo abbraccio = a warm hug), warm colours or sounds (e.g. colori caldi = warm colours), and even fresh or recent news (e.g. una notizia calda = a fresh piece of news).

A great expression in Italian is a caldo (in the heat of the moment) which can be used either with the negative connotation of hastiness, or with a neutral connotation.

  • decidere a caldo = decide in the heat of the moment
  • una reazione a caldo = a rash / spur of the moment decision

One of my favourite words in Italian is calduccio, the snug-sounding diminutive of caldo. It translates as warmth or warm in English.

Mi piace stare al calduccio sotto le coperte.

I like staying warm (and snug) under the covers.

person holding cup of coffee in bed
Un buon caffè caldo sotto le coperte. = A good warm coffee under the blankets.

Hot tip: In English, we use the slang word hot to talk about someone we find good-looking but in Italian, caldo doesn’t have this figurative meaning. If you want to comment on someone’s attractive appearance, you can use the slang word figo for a man or figa / gnocca for a woman. You may also hear some Italians using the English word sexy for either sex.

Expressions featuring ‘caldo’

Non fare né caldo né freddo

Literal translation: to be neither hot nor cold
English meaning: to underwhelm, to cut no ice with someone

Battere il ferro finché è caldo

Literal translation: to strike while the iron is hot
English meaning: to strike while the iron is hot

Prendersela calda per qualcosa / qualcuno

Literal translation: to take it hot for something / someone
English meaning: to bend over backwards for something / someone

Tenere in caldo

Literal translation: to keep hot
English meaning: to keep on the back burner, to have on standby

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