Italian Word of the Day: Sole (Sun)

The name we give the bright star (stella) at the centre of our solar system is the Sun (Sole) with a capital letter S.

Italian word for sun

The word sole can be used to describe not just the star itself but also the light (sunlight or sunshine) it generates. When referring to the light, you must use the lower case s in both languages.

I bambini stanno giocando fuori al sole.

The children are playing out in the sunshine.

Below are a few common words featuring the word sole in Italian:

  • colpo di sole = sunstroke
  • occhiali da sole = sunglasses
  • raggio di sole = ray of sunshine
  • colpi di sole = highlights (in hair)
city street with sun in the background

Interestingly, many of the words in English that contain sun have no etymological relationship to the word sole in Italian. For example:

  • scottatura / bruciatura = sunburn
  • abbronzatura = suntan
  • tramonto = sunset
  • alba = sunrise (although you can say lo spuntar del sole or il sorgere del sole)

There are a number of verbs in Italian you can use to describe the manner in which the sun is shining.

  • battere = to shine (down on)
  • picchiare = to beat down
  • splendere = to shine, sparkle, gleam
sunlight inside a church

The expression prendere il sole means to get some sunshine (because you’ve been indoors for too long) or to sunbathe.

To describe a place or day as being sunny, you can use the adjective soleggiato. However, it isn’t uncommon for Italians to use the descriptor di sole or the adjective sereno (serene, calm) when talking about a sunny day.

Mi siedo sul lato soleggiato del balcone.

I’m going to sit on the sunny side of the balcony.

Oggi è una giornata di sole / serena.

Today is a sunny day.

Did you know that…?

The word sole can also function as a compliment in Italian, most notably in the phrase:

Sei bello/a come il sole! = You’re beautiful like the sun!

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