Italian Word of the Day: Lista (list)

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!

At Christmastime, children all over the world are encouraged to write letters to Santa Claus that include a list of presents they would like to receive – if they’ve been good, that is! 😉

The word for list in Italian is very similar to the English: simply add an a to the end to make it lista (feminine, plural: liste)!

IPA: /ˈlis.ta/

Milo ha scritto una lista dei regali che vorrebbe ricevere per Natale.

Milo wrote a list of presents he would like to receive for Christmas.


young girl sitting next to man dressed as santa clause who's holding a long list of presents
Questa lista di regali è molto lunga! = This list of gifts is very long!

There are many different kinds of lists besides the one Santa receives every December. Here are just a few!

  • lista della spesa = shopping list
  • lista d’attesa = waiting list
  • lista movimenti = list of transactions
  • lista ristretta = shortlist
  • lista nera = blacklist / hit list
  • lista degli invitati = guest list
  • lista di spedizione = mailing list
  • lista delle cose da fare = to-do list
  • lista dei desideri = wish list

If you are at the top of a list, you are a capolista. If you are at the bottom, you are a piè di lista, with piè being the truncated form of piede (foot). You can also say in fondo alla lista which means at the bottom of the list.

You may have come across the word listino, which derives from lista but actually means price list.

A word that also translates as list in English is elenco. Unlike lista, which is usually reserved for short lists, elenco is used for very long lists, lists of things organised according to category (e.g. places to visit, phone numbers, emails, etc.) and directories. It derives from the verb elencare which means to list.

Il suo nome non compare nell’elenco telefonico.

His name doesn’t appear in the telephone directory.


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