Italian Word of the Day: Pranzo (lunch)

Today we’re going to be discussing the meal that comes between colazione (breakfast) and cena (supper) which is, of course, pranzo (lunch)!

italian word for lunch

Pranzo is a masculine noun that comes directly from the Latin prandium of the same meaning. It takes the following definite and indefinite articles:

il pranzo
the lunch

un pranzo
a lunch

i pranzi
the lunches

dei pranzi
(some) lunches

In Italy, pranzo is usually served between 12:30 and 2:00pm, but most Italians are ready to eat by around 1pm. Those who aren’t in a hurry to return to work may easily dedicate an hour to lunch, either at home or in a public place serving food such as a pizzeria or bar.

Non bisogna saltare il pranzo. Fa male al nostro corpo.

We mustn’t skip lunch. It’s bad for our bodies.

A proper pranzo in Italy is always a complete savoury meal, consisting of a variety of vegetables, meat and carbohydrates. For example, whenever we visit my suocera (mother-in-law) for lunch, she always serves us a primo (first course) of pasta, followed by a secondo (second course) of meat, and finally a contorno (side dish) of vegetables or salad.

These days, however, it is just as common for an Italian to have only a primo or secondo, or even just a quick panino (sandwich) on the go, especially if they are in a rush.

A plate of pasta
Un piatto di pasta per pranzo. = A plate of pasta for lunch.

In order to say “to have lunch” in Italian, you need to use the verb fare (to do / make) with pranzo, not avere (to have). Alternatively you can use the single verb pranzare.

Di solito faccio pranzo verso l’una.

I usually have lunch around 1pm.

Pranzetto, with the diminutive -etto ending, refers to a quick meal or a light lunch.

A pranzo al sacco (lit. lunch in a bag), on the other hand, is what Italians would call a packed lunch. It refers to the kind of lunch you would take to school or on an outing such as a picnic.

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