Italian Word of the Day: Uomo (man)

We’ve already looked at the word for woman (donna), so now it’s time to look at the other half of the human equation! The word for man in Italian is uomo (masculine, plural: uomini).

IPA: /ˈwɔ.mo/

Similar to English, the word uomo can be used to refer to an adult human male or more generally, the human race.

Quell’uomo si chiama Marco. Abita nell’appartamento sopra al mio.

That man is called Marco. He lives in the apartment above mine.

Cinquantuno anni fa l’uomo mise piede sulla Luna.

Fifty-one years ago man set foot on the moon.

In informal speech, it isn’t uncommon to colloquially refer to a friend’s male partner as uomo instead of (marito) husband or (ragazzo) boyfriend.

Come sta il tuo uomo? Non lo vedo da un sacco!

How is your man? I haven’t seen him for ages!

In the singular, it is also the word used to refer to a type of prehistoric human (e.g. Uomo di Neanderthal = Neanderthal man).

The noun, when associated with other words, can describe a specific kind of man:

  • Buon uomo / Brav’uomo = man of practical skills but not very intelligent
  • Uomo della strada = ordinary man
  • Uomo d’affari = business man
  • Uomo nero = boogeyman
  • Uomo alla mano = friendly man (alla mano means at hand)
  • Uomo di fiducia = man you can trust for delicate jobs
  • Uomo d’onore = honorable man

When talking about a worker or someone who provides a service, uomo can work as a colloquial alternative to the polite signore (sir, gentleman).

C’è l’uomo del gas alla porta.

The gas man is at the door.

Expressions featuring ‘uomo’

A misura d’uomo

Literal translation: at the measure of man
English meaning: liveable, suitable for people

Ad altezza d’uomo

Literal translation: at the height of man
English meaning: at eye level

A passo d’uomo

Literal translation: at man’s pace
English meaning: at walking pace

A memoria d’uomo

Literal translation: in man’s memory
English meaning: for a long time (as long as man can remember)

Uomo avvisato, mezzo salvato

Literal translation: a warned man is half-saved
English meaning: forewarned is forearmed

Essere una pasta d’uomo

Literal translation: to be a man’s dough
English meaning: to be a good man

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