Italian Word of the Day: Luce (light)

The most widely known translation for the word luce is light in the sense of the natural agent that makes things visible to the eye.

IPA: /lù·ce/

Just as in English, it can be used to refer to the agent itself (as in the first two examples below) or the source of illumination (as in the last two examples).

La luce è la cosa più veloce conosciuta nell’universo.

Light is the fastest thing known in the universe.


La luce viene proiettata su uno schermo.

The light is projected onto a screen.


Ricordati di spegnere la luce prima di uscire.

Remember to turn off the light before going out.
(Refers to an electric lamp)


Le luci di natale sono bellissime, vero?

The Christmas lights are beautiful, aren’t they?
(Refers to coloured bulbs)


La luce del sole = Sunlight

In English, you can use light as an adjective when referring to a light shade of colour (e.g. light green) but not in Italian. Instead you must use the adjective chiaro.

La ragazza ha i capelli castani chiari.

The girl has light brown hair.


Three adjectives closely related to luce are lucido, lucente and luccicante. The first translates to shiny or lucid in English, whereas the second and third are close in meaning to shiny or sparkling. When used as a noun, lucido can also mean tracing paper or polish.

The word luce is often used in expressions where special attention is drawn to someone or something, either in a literal or metaphorical sense, or when something is revealed. What’s interesting to observe is that many of the English equivalents also contain the word light!

  • gettare la luce su = to cast or shed light on
  • mettersi in luce = to put oneself in the limelight
  • mettere in luce = to highlight
  • mettere in cattiva luce = to give an unfavourable impression of someone/something to others
  • portare alla luce = bring to light, to reveal, deliver (a baby)
  • riportare alla luce = to uncover, dig up
  • vedere la luce (in fondo al tunnel) = to see the light (at the end of the tunnel)
  • venire alla luce = to be born, to arise or appear (in one’s mind)
  • luce dei miei occhi = apple of my eye

Below are a few useful terms that contain the word luce:

  • luce del giorno = daylight
  • anno luce = light year
  • punto luce = highlight or light source
  • raggio di luce = ray of light
  • luce solare / luce del sole = sunlight
  • luce di posizione = sidelight, parking light
  • giochi di luce = trick of the light
  • fascio di luce = beam of light

Two other translations for luce with which you may not be as familiar are span (the distance between two objects) or opening (of a window).

Trivia: Did you know that Luce is a popular first name for a girl in Italy? Other variations include Lucia, Lucetta, Lucina, Marialuce and Chiaraluce. It has the same origin as the English name Lucy.

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