Italian Word of the Day: Gattino (kitten)

In Italian, the diminutive suffixes -ino / -otto / -etto are often added to the end of animal names to denote their offspring. A good example of this is our word of the day, gattino (masculine, plural: gattini), which means kitten. Gattino is simply the word gatto (cat) with -ino attached to the end.

IPA: /gat·tì·no/

When referring to a female kitten, you are free to change the ending to -ina, the feminine form of -ino.

Ma che bella gattina! Possiamo adottarla?

What a beautiful kitten! Can we adopt her?

An alternative translation for kitten is micino which comes from the word micio, also meaning cat.

Important: Because -ino means small, you can also use it to describe animals of a small size. It may also be used for adult animals as a term of affection. For example, we often call our adult cat gattina when she does something cute.

Below are a few other examples of baby animals that take the –ino / -otto / -etto suffixes:

  • cagnolino = puppy, small dog (comes from cane = dog)
  • leoncino = lion cub (comes from leone = lion)
  • maialino = piglet (comes from maiale = pig)
  • tigrotto = tiger cub (comes from tigre = tiger)
  • lupetto = wolf cub (comes from lupo = wolf)
  • elefantino = baby elephant (comes from elefante = elephant)

Note that you can also use the word cucciolo, meaning cub, to talk about many different kinds of baby animals including cats, dogs, bears, and wolves, just to name a few.

Tu sai come prenderti cura di un cucciolo di gatto?

Do you know how to take care of a kitten?

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