Italian Word of the Day: Panino (sandwich)

What do you imagine when you hear the word panini? Probably a delicious sandwich, served warm after being toasted to perfection, am I right?

What you may not know is that panini is actually the plural of the Italian singular panino, which quite simply means bread roll or sandwich. Etymologically speaking, it is the diminutive of the generic word for bread, pane.

italian word for sandwich

The traditional Italian panino, also known by its complete name panino imbottito or panino farcito, is made with any kind of Italian bread, two of the most popular being ciabatta and focaccia.

Once sliced horizontally, it is filled with various ingredients such as salami, cheese, ham, and salad. It can be served either hot (caldo) or cold (freddo).

Ho mangiato solo un panino a pranzo.

I ate just a sandwich for lunch.

Italian sandwich filled with salad, salami, cheese and tomatoes
Panino farcito

Did you know that…?
Just as the word panini has entered the English language, so too has the word sandwich infiltrated the language of love! There isn’t a significant difference in meaning between panino and sandwich in Italian: both refer to a roll or two slices of bread stuffed with various ingredients. Be aware that it isn’t used nearly as frequently as panino however, so don’t see it as an excuse not the learn the proper term. 😉

Hand holding a sandwich in a train station
Mangio un panino aspettando il treno. = I’m eating a sandwich while waiting for the train.

When referring to an American-style sandwich made up of two slices of white bread (pancarré) and a filling, the correct term is tramezzino, the diminutive of tramezzo (meaning in between). Often sold in bars in Italy as an inexpensive snack, tramezzini are usually triangular in shape and have the crusts removed.

club sandwiches on a table
Ho preparato dei tramezzini per pranzo. = I prepared club sandwiches for lunch.

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