Italian Word of the Day: Abbraccio (hug)

Do you consider yourself the “huggy” type? Then you will love today’s word of the day!

The word for hug in Italian is abbraccio (masculine, plural: abbracci). It derives from the verbs abbracciare (to hug) and abbracciarsi (to hug one another), which in turn come from the word braccio meaning arm.

italian word for hug

One way of saying a big hug in Italian is un grande abbraccio or un forte abbraccio (forte = strong).

Below are a few common verbs you’ll often see used with abbraccio:

  • dare / darsi un abbraccio = to give / give each other a hug
  • scambiarsi un abbraccio = to exchange a hug
  • ricevere un abbraccio = to receive a hug

Si sono date un grande abbraccio.

They gave each other a big hug.

two ladies hugging at the dinner table
È sempre bello ricevere un abbraccio. = It’s always nice to receive a hug.

A very specific kind of hugging is cuddling, which can translate as either stare / rimanere abbracciati (lit: to stay hugging) or more commonly, coccolare and farsi le coccole.

When Italians sign off a written correspondence such as a letter, email or text, you can expect them to use abbraccio or the plural abbracci in the same way English speakers would write lots of love or best wishes. Below are some common formulas:

  • Baci e abbracci. = Kisses and hugs.
  • Un bacio e un abbraccio. = A kiss and a hug.
  • Vi mando un forte abbraccio. = I send you all a strong hug.
  • Un caro abbraccio = A dear hug
  • Un abbraccio = A hug

You can also use un abbraccio as a way to say goodbye at the end of a phone conversation.

Ciao Carla, ci sentiamo presto. Un abbraccio!

Bye Carla, speak to you soon. A hug!

The expression un abbraccio mortale (lit: a deadly embrace) refers to an irreversible choice or a bond with someone that we know will lead to ruin.

Finally, abbraccio is a term used in boxing to indicate a clinch, a defensive move in which a boxer wraps his opponents arms and holds on to create a pause.

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