How to Say “Mom / Mum” in Italian – Mamma

The name almost all children call their mother (madre) in Italian, no matter their age, is mamma, which translates as mom / mommy in American English or mum / mummy in British English.

IPA: /màm·ma/

Three possible variations are the affectionate diminutives mammi, mami and mammina.

La signora sta per diventare una mamma. – The lady is about to become a mom.

When using a possessive adjective like mia (my), you have the option of keeping or omitting the definite article la that precedes it. By keeping the article, the sentence takes on a more affectionate tone, which is why you’ll often hear children using this variation.

Oggi mia mamma è andata al cinema.

Today my mom went to the cinema.

This phrase communicates a simple fact without any emotional value.

Le voglio bene perché è la mia mamma.

I love her because she is my mom.

This phrase has definite affectionate overtones.

Voglio bene alla mia mamma! = I love my mommy!

If it is clear that you are talking about your own mom instead of somebody else’s mother, it is possible to simply say la mamma without the possessive adjective. This form is often used when talking to other close family members such as siblings, one’s father or grandparents.

La mamma dice che possiamo uscire stasera.

Mom says we can go out tonight.


When talking about your mom to people you don’t know very well, it is best to use the more formal madre (mother) instead of mamma.

Io e mia mamma – My mum and me

Mother’s Day is known as La Festa della Mamma in Italian and there are many different types of moms who deserve to be celebrated on this day besides one’s birth mother (madre biologica). Let’s take a look at them now!

  • madre adottiva / di adozione = adoptive mother
  • madre affidatariafoster mother
  • madre surrogata = surrogate mother
  • matrigna = stepmother
  • nonna = grandmother
  • bisnonna = great grandmother
  • madre single = single mother
  • madrina = godmother
  • suocera = mother-in-law
  • figura materna = mother figure

Earlier on, we briefly mentioned the word mammina as a possible affectionate substitute for mamma but it can also be used to refer to a young mother or a young girl who acts like a mother towards her younger siblings.

Discover ten great quotes and sayings about mothers for Mother’s Day in our dedicated article!


Italian expressions containing ‘mamma’

Mamma mia!

Literal translation: My mum!
English meaning: Oh my goodness!


Essere attaccato alle gonnelle della mamma

Literal translation: to be attached to one’s mother’s apron strings
English meaning: to be dependant and still in need of one’s mother’s help


Come mamma l’ha fatto

Literal translation: as mother made him
English meaning: to be in one’s birthday suit


La mamma/madre dei cretini è sempre incinta

Literal translation: The mother of idiots is always pregnant
English meaning: There’s one born every minute


Bello / Cocco di mamma

Literal translation: Mum’s sweetheart
English meaning: Mum’s favourite child, it can also be used ironically to describe an adult or a child who is spoiled


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