Italian Word of the Day: Maiale (pig)

The domestic pig – or maiale (masculine, plural: maiali) in Italian – is one of the most populous mammals (mammiferi) in the world.

IPA: [maˈjale]

In fact, it is estimated that approximately one billion are alive at any time. Because they are omnivores (onnivori) just like humans, they can consume a wider range of food than most animals.

Il maiale si sta rotolando nel fango.

The pig is rolling in the mud.


A pig eating from a bucket, a woman and a pig in the background.

When describing pork – as in the meat obtained from a pig – you can use any of the following terms: maiale, carne di maiale or carne suina.

La polenta con spuntature e salsiccia di maiale è il tipico piatto invernale del Lazio.

Polenta with spare ribs and pork sausages is the typical Lazio winter dish.


As in English, maiale can be used to describe someone with an insatiable appetite. However in Italian, it has two additional meanings: a) someone who never washes and b) a pervert or sleezeball.

State attente ragazze, quel tipo è un vero maiale…

Be careful girls, that guy’s a real sleezeball...


A synonym for maiale is porco. When talking about the animal, either term is perfectly acceptable, but in reference to people, porco is considered extremely rude and offensive. In fact, it is contained within many Italian swear words, some of which are relatively tame (such as porca miseria), and others much more vulgar.

Porca miseria, ho dimenticato le chiavi di casa!

Geez, I forgot the house keys!


A well-known idiom in Italian is Del maiale non si butta niente which translates literally as Of the pig nothing goes to waste. It is similar to the American expression Everything but the oink.

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