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).
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 = honourable 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
Heather Broster is a graduate with honours in linguistics from the University of Western Ontario. She is an aspiring polyglot, proficient in English and Italian, as well as Japanese, Welsh, and French to varying degrees of fluency. Originally from Toronto, Heather has resided in various countries, notably Italy for a period of six years. Her primary focus lies in the fields of language acquisition, education, and bilingual instruction.