Italian Word of the Day: Scheletro (skeleton)

Today’s ‘word of the day’ is part of our Italian Halloween Word series. On the days leading up to Halloween, we’ll post a word that is related to this spooky time of year. Enjoy! 🦇

Scheletro (masculine, plural: scheletri) is the Italian word for skeleton. It derives from the Greek term skeletos which means ‘dried up‘.


Some different kinds of skeletons include:

  • scheletro umano = human skeleton
  • scheletro di dinosauro = dinosaur skeleton
  • scheletro di uccello / mammifero / rettile = skeleton of a bird / mammal / reptile

Durante gli scavi hanno ritrovato uno scheletro.

During the excavations they found a skeleton.

Funny human skeleton is lying in bad
Lo scheletro ha sonno. – The skeleton is sleepy.

People often allude to skeletons when describing someone who is extremely thin. For example, you can say:

  • essere magro come uno scheletro = to be as skinny as a skeleton
  • ridursi a uno scheletro = to be reduced to a skeleton
  • pare uno scheletro = to look like a skeleton

The English expression to have skeletons in the closet, which refers to an embarrassing fact that someone wishes to keep secret, has also been borrowed into Italian (avere uno scheletro nell’armadio).

By extension, both the Italian scheletro and English skeleton can denote the supporting framework or basic structure of something such as a vehicle or building.

Il tetto è praticamente completato, lo scheletro della casa pure.

The roof is practically finished, as is the skeleton / framework of the house.

Wood Building frame builder at work with wooden roof construction
Lo scheletro della casa = The framework of the house

It can also refer to the outline or plot of a book, play, story or any other written piece of work.

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