Italian Word of the Day: Pazienza (patience)

The Italian word for patience is pazienza (feminine, plural: pazienze). You can trace the origin of the word back to the Latin patienta meaning suffering.

/pa·zièn·za/
cover image with the word “pazienza” and its translation written on a notepad next to a cup of cofee

Learn with our video


Some common verbs you’ll see used with pazienza include:

  • avere pazienza = to be patient, to have patience
  • armarsi di pazienza = to prepare oneself to be very patient (lit: to arm oneself with patience)
  • perdere la pazienza = to lose one’s patience
  • far perdere la pazienza (a qualcuno) = to make (someone) lose their patience
  • portare pazienza = to be patient
  • mostrare pazienza = to show patience

Sto per perdere la pazienza!

I’m running out of patience!


La pazienza è la virtù dei forti = Patience is a virtue

In Italy, you will often hear the expressions abbi pazienza (singular, informal), abbia pazienza (singular, formal) and abbiate pazienza (plural), all of which are commands that literally mean be patient. You can also use the verb portare instead of avere (porta pazienza / porti pazienza / portate pazienza).

Although they can be used in their literal sense, these expressions are just as frequently used as a courteous way of apologising. Compare the follow two examples:

Although it can be used in the literal sense, this expression is just as frequently used as a courteous way of apologising. Compare the follow two examples:

Capita a tutti di attraversare momenti difficili. Abbi pazienza e si sistemerà tutto, vedrai! (literal)

We all go through difficult times. Be patient and everything will be fine, you’ll see!


Abbi pazienza, ma oggi non posso accompagnarti. (apology)

I’m sorry, but I can’t go with you today.


Grandmnother teaching granddaughter how to paint in the natural parkland
Devi avere pazienza quando dipingi, capisci? = You need to be patient when you paint, do you understand?

This expression can also be used as a complaint that is similar in meaning to the English exclamations Oh, come on! or Give me a break!

Abbi pazienza, come faccio a fare tutto in un giorno?

Oh come on, how can I do everything in one day?


Sometimes you may hear Pazienza! exclaimed in isolation, in which case it means the same as the English expressions Oh well! or Never mind!

Purtroppo la gita non è andata come speravo. Pazienza!

Unfortunately, the trip didn’t pan out the way I had hoped. Oh well!


Santa pazienza! (lit: saint patience), on the other hand, is a very mild expletive meaning For goodness sake!

A person who has una pazienza da certosino (lit: patience of a Carthusian monk) would certainly have no trouble playing un gioco di pazienza (a game, such as a puzzle, that requires patience and concentration).

elderly couple playing chess in the living room
Il gioco degli scacchi richiede tanta pazienza! = Chess game requires a lot of patience.

Here are a few words related to pazienza in Italian:

  • impazienza = impatience
  • impaziente = impatient
  • paziente = patient (it also means someone who’s receiving medical care, just like in English)
  • pazientemente = patiently
  • pazientare = to wait patiently, to bide one’s time

This article is also available in video format on our YouTube channel. The audio version can be found on Podbean, Google Podcast, Apple Podcast and Spotify.

Leave a Comment