Italian Word of the Day: Ghiacciolo (icicle)

Today’s word of the day is part of our Italian Christmas Word Advent Calendar series. Each day throughout December, we’ll post a word that is related to the holiday season. Enjoy!

An icicle is a column of ice (ghiaccio) formed when dripping water freezes in sub-zero temperatures, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Italian word for icicle derives from the word for ice: ghiacciolo (masculine, plural: ghiaccioli).

IPA: /ɡjatˈt͡ʃɔ.lo/

I ghiaccioli che pendevano dalle case scintillavano come diamanti.

The icicles that hung from the houses sparkled like diamonds.


Long Icicles Melting of a Log Wood Chalet roof top

Ghiacciolo doesn’t just mean icicle – it is also the word used for popsicles or ice lollies.

Da bambino adoravo mangiare i ghiaccioli.

As a child I loved eating popsicles.


Below are a few other wintery words that are derived from the word ghiaccio:

  • ghiacciaio = glacier
  • ghiacciare = to freeze
  • ghiacciato = frozen
  • ghiacciaia = ice box, freezer
  • pattini da ghiaccio = ice skates
  • pattinare sul ghiaccio = ice skating

While there is no question of their beauty, ghiaccioli can also be quite dangerous (pericolosi), especially when they are very large and have a long distance to fall. In fact, it is estimated that every year in the United States, fifteen people are killed or seriously injured in incidents related to falling icicles, whereas in Russia, that number rises to 100!

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