Italian Word of the Day: Oceano (ocean)

The terms ocean and oceano (masculine, plural: oceani), which derive from the Greek ōkeanos, refer to the largest expanses of salt water on the earth’s surface.

IPA: /o.tʃea.no/

Just as in English, Italians ofter refer to the ocean as il mare (the sea), even though technically seas are smaller in size and have different geological characteristics.

There are five oceans on the planet, which are:

  • Oceano Pacifico = Pacific Ocean
  • Oceano Atlantic = Atlantic Ocean
  • Oceano Indiano = Indian Ocean
  • Oceano Artico = Arctic Ocean
  • Oceano Antartico = Antarctic Ocean

L’oceano più grande del mondo è l’Oceano Pacifico.

The biggest ocean in the world is the Pacific Ocean.


In a figurative sense, oceano can be used to describe a large quantity or an expanse.

Guarda quanto è grande il deserto. È come un oceano di sabbia.

Look how big the desert is. It’s like an ocean of sand.


Did you know that…?
The oceans cover approximately 71% of Earth’s surface. Gli oceani coprono circa il 71% della superficie terrestre.


La leggenda del pianista sull’oceano

The Legend of 1900 (La leggenda del pianista sull’oceano = The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean) was Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore’s very first English language film. Released in 1998, it was nominated for a number of awards worldwide. Below you can listen to the beautiful main theme song from the film written by Ennio Morricone.

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