Italian Word of the Day: Limone (lemon)

The Italian word for lemon is limone, which comes from the Arabic līmūn, the collective term for fruits of this kind.

/li·mó·ne/
cover image with the word “limone” and its translation written on a notepad next to a cup of coffee

Limone is a masculine noun, and its plural form is limoni.

il limone
the lemon

un limone
a lemon

i limoni
the lemons

dei limoni
(some) lemons

Interestingly, limone is also the name given to the lemon tree, but if you want to be more precise, you can also say albero di limone (with albero meaning ‘tree‘).

I limoni crescono sull’albero di limone.

The lemons grow on the lemon tree.


half of lemon and lime
Un limone e un lime tagliati a metà A lemon and a lime cut in half

To say that something has a lemony flavour, you can use the expressions al limone or al gusto di limone.

Vorrei un gelato al (gusto di) limone per favore.

I’d like a lemon flavoured ice cream, please.


Lemons are very sour (acidi), so only the most masochistic among us eat them alone! However, you can make many eatable and drinkable treats out of them including:

  • crema al limone = lemon curd
  • succo di limone = lemon juice
  • torta di limone = lemon cake
  • crostata al limone = lemon tart
  • spremuta di limone = freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • tè al limone = lemon tea
  • sorbetto al limone = lemon sorbet

Many recipes call for the scorza di limone (lemon peel) rather than the liquid extract of the lemon itself.

And I think most of you would agree that there is nothing quite like adding una fetta di limone (a lemon slice) or two to a cool drink on a summer’s day!

Cocktail with lemon slices. Wineglass and cubes of ice. Mixture of gin and juice.

By extension, limone can also denote the yellow colour of the lemon.


Idioms featuring the word ‘limone’

Essere giallo come un limone

Literal meaning: to be as yellow as a lemon
English meaning: to be pale


Garantito al limone

Literal meaning: guaranteed with lemon
English meaning: a jocular way to say something is certain


Spremere qualcuno come un limone

Literal meaning: to squeeze someone like a lemon
English meaning: to take advantage of someone, to exploit someone


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