Italian Word of the Day: Liscio (smooth)

In order to say that something is smooth in Italian, you would use the adjective liscio. The opposite of liscio is the word ruvido (rough).

IPA: /ˈliʃʃo/

As is the case with many adjectives in Italian, the ending of the liscio changes depending on whether you are talking about a masculine, feminine or plural subject:

  • liscio = masculine, singular
  • liscia = feminine, singular
  • lisci = masculine, plural
  • lisce = feminine, plural

I neonati hanno la pelle molto liscia.

Newborns have very smooth skin.


To say that something goes smoothly, you can use the literal translation andare liscio (to go smoothly), filare liscio (lit. to run smoothly) or the expression filare / andare liscio come l’olio (to run / go like oil).

Alla fine, è andato tutto liscio come l’olio.

In the end, everything went smoothly.

Another very common expression in Italian is passarla liscia (lit: to pass it smoothly) which means to get away with something.

Il ladro l’ha passata liscia un’altra volta.

The thief managed to get away with it once again.

When something is pure, uncomplicated or undisturbed, it is often described using liscio even when the English translation isn’t necessarily smooth. A few good examples include:

  • capelli lisci = straight hair (without curls or kinks)
  • caffè liscio = black coffee (without any sugar or milk)
  • whisky liscio = neat whisky (without any mixer, additional flavours or dilution)
  • acqua liscia = still water (without flavouring or gas)
  • mare liscio = calm sea (without waves)
  • ballo liscio = ballroom dancing (consisting of smooth movements)
  • cappotto liscio = plain overcoat (without embellishments)

Liscio may also translate as easy in some cases, describing things that don’t present any difficulties or obstacles. For example, un lavoro liscio is an easy job, and the lesser-known expression alla liscia (or alle lisce) means in the easiest and quickest way.

Non preoccuparti, è un lavoro liscio.

Don’t worry, it’s a quick and easy job.

Un lavoro liscio = An easy job

When used as a noun in the context of soccer and other ball games, liscio refers to a bad or missed shot.

L’attaccante ha fatto un liscio.

The striker missed the shot.

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