Italian Word of the Day: Starnuto (sneeze)

Have you come down with a cold (raffredore)? Or perhaps you suffer from allergies (allergie)? If so, you might find yourself sneezing more than usual!

The word for a sneeze in Italian is starnuto, which comes from the verb starnutire meaning to sneeze.

IPA: /star·nù·to/

Note: less common variations are found in Italian literature such as the noun sternuto, and the verbs starnutare and sternutire.

Il bebè starnutisce = The baby sneezes

An alternative way of saying to sneeze is fare uno starnuto (lit: to do/make a sneeze).

Perché hai fatto uno starnuto? Ti è entrata della polvere nel naso?

Why did you sneeze? Because some dust went up your nose?


There are onomatopoetic words in both languages for the sound a sneeze makes: achoo in English and etcì / ecci in Italian.

Whereas in English, we say Bless you! after a person has just sneezed, the Italians say Salute! which literally means Health!

Etcì! – Salute! Ti sei preso un raffreddore?

Achoo! – Bless you! Have you caught a cold?


A fun (but not very common) expression in Italian is È come fare uno starnuto (It’s like sneezing). It is used to describe something you were expecting to be long and tedious but turned out to be extremely straightforward and easy.

Leave a Comment