Italian Word of the Day: Fiocco di Neve (snowflake)

Today’s word of the day is part of our Italian Christmas Word Advent Calendar series. Each day throughout December, we’ll post a word that is related to the holiday season. Enjoy!

The snow we see on the ground at Christmastime is made up of hundreds of billions of tiny snowflakes, none of which are identical. This is because each snowflake is made up of millions of tiny water molecules that can arrange themselves in infinite ways. Comparing two snowflakes may reveal some physical similarities but statistically speaking, it is extremely unlikely that they would share the very same characteristics at a molecular level.

The word for snowflake in Italian is fiocco di neve (masculine, plural: fiocchi di neve) with fiocco meaning flake and neve meaning snow.

IPA: /ˈfjɔk.ko di ˈne.ve/

Dog with big snowflakes

Ogni fiocco di neve è unico.

Every snowflake is unique.


Barring a few exceptions such as fiocchi d’avena (oat flakes) and fiocchi di mais (cornflakes), fiocco doesn’t usually translate as flake. Rather the most common translation is bow (the kind you wrap around a present).

Ho messo un fiocco rosso sul regalo.

I put a red bow on the present.


Other possible translations include wad (when talking about cotton balls), jib (a kind of sail) and tassel (decorative cords). Cottage cheese is known as fiocchi di latte (literally milk flakes) or formaggio in fiocchi (literally cheese in flakes) because of its flaky appearance.

mountain covered in snow

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