Italian Word of the Day: Sopravvissuto (survivor)

Sopravvissuto, the word for survivor in Italian, comes from the verb sopravvivere meaning to survive. It is formed of two parts: sopra (above) and vissuto (past participle of vivere ‘to live’).

italian word for survivor

If you are talking about a woman instead of a man, the masculine sopravvissuto becomes the feminine sopravvissuta. Their respective plurals are sopravvissuti and sopravvissute.

As in English, sopravvissuto can refer to someone who remains alive after a tragic event, or one of the last remaining members of a group or family.

Carlo è l’unico sopravvissuto della famiglia.

Carlo is the only survivor of the family.

Nuclear post-apocalypse. Sole survivor in tatters and gas mask on the ruins of the destroyed city
L’ultimo sopravvissuto = The last survivor

It cannot, however, be used figuratively to denote someone who copes well with difficulties in their life or has overcome a difficult experience. In that case, you’d use the word tosto/a (determined) or the pronominal verb farcela (to make it, to succeed at doing something).

Non ti preoccupare, ce la farà. Lei è una tosta!

Don’t worry, she’ll make it. She’s a survivor!

When used as an adjective, sopravvissuto can also translate as surviving. For example, i passeggeri sopravvissuti is how you would say the surviving passengers in Italian. Another possible translation is outdated or antiquated when talking about a person whose habits, principles or beliefs are out of touch with modern day ideologies.

Survivor’s guilt, known as la sindrome del sopravvissuto in Italian, is a mental condition that occurs when a person feels guilty about surviving a traumatic event when others did not.

A close synonym of sopravvissuto is superstite. It too can be either a noun (un superstite = a survivor) or an adjective (un passeggero superstite = a surviving passenger).

Ethics statement: Below you will find affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!

Lingopie (affiliate link) is the Netflix of language learning application that uses real TV shows and movies to help you learn a new language. You can choose a show to watch based on your fluency level, and use the interactive subtitles to get instant translations to help you learn quickly.

Are you interested in improving your Italian in a fun and stress-free manner? Then we highly recommend Serena Capilli's short stories in Italian (affiliate link), designed for beginners, advanced beginners, and lower intermediate learners (A1-B1 CEFR). These stories have been optimised for English speakers in search of a fun, laid-back learning experience! Read our full review here.

Leave a Comment