Italian Word of the Day: Cucciolo (puppy / baby animal)

The original meaning of the word cucciolo (plural: cuccioli) in Italian was puppy but it has since expanded to include any type of baby animal.


If you want to specify which kind of baby animal you are talking about, simply add the preposition di (of) plus the name of the animal after cucciolo. For example:

  • cucciolo di cane = puppy
  • cucciolo di gatto = kitten
  • cucciolo di orso = bear cub
Funny portrait of puppy english bulldog
Un cucciolo di cane = A puppy

Sto pensando di adottare un cucciolo di cane.

I’m thinking of adopting a puppy.

Because cucciolo can also function as an adjective, it possible to phrase the aforementioned words in the following way:

  • cane cucciolo = puppy
  • gatto cucciolo = kitten
  • orso cucciolo = bear cub

In addition to animals, cucciolo and the feminine equivalent cucciola are also terms of endearment for babies and young children. Loving couples may also use them as affectionate nicknames for each other. The following diminutives and augmentatives are often used for humans:

  • cucciolino / cucciolina = little cub
  • cuccioletto / cuccioletta = little cub
  • cucciolotto / cucciolotta = big cub
  • cucciolone / cucciolona = big cub

In a figurative sense, cucciolo is the word for someone who is young and inexperienced.

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