Italian Word of the Day: Gola (throat)

The word for throat in Italian is gola (feminine, plural: gole). It derives from the Latin gula.

IPA: /gó·la/

One of the telltale symptoms of a cold is a mal di gola (sore throat), otherwise known as a gola infiammata (lit: an inflamed throat). In some cases, you may also experience a gola secca (dry throat) or gola arrossata (redness in the throat).

Ho mal di gola da tre giorni.

I’ve had a sore throat for three days.

doctor touching woman's neck
Non mi sento bene. Ho molto mal di gola. = I don’t feel well. I have a very sore throat.

Below are some useful verbs that are often paired with gola:

  • raschiarsi / schiarirsi la gola = to clear one’s throat
  • stringere la gola = to tighten one’s throat (out of emotion)
  • coprire la gola = to cover one’s throat
  • prendere per la gola = to grab (someone’s) throat

By extension, gola can also mean neck, although the anatomically correct term for neck is collo. Take, for example, the phrase mi copro la gola con una sciarpa (I cover my throat with a scarf): what is being referring to is the neck rather than the throat.

woman wearing a scarf
La ragazza si copre la gola con la sciarpa. = The girl covers her throat with a scarf.

In a figurative sense, gola also denotes gluttony, with the phrase mangiare qualcosa per gola (lit: to eat something for throat) meaning to eat something out of gluttony as opposed to hunger. Similarly the expression fare gola (lit: to make throat) translates as appetising or desirable, and can be used not only for food and drink but also other tempting things.

Questo è un piatto che fa gola a molti.

This is a dish that many find appetising.

In geography, three words that translate as gola are gorge, canyon and gulce. In fact, the word gorge itself comes from the French gorge meaning throat!

view of the Flaming Gorge in the United States

Expressions featuring the word ‘gola’

There is a surprising number of idioms and expressions featuring the word gola in Italian, so to keep things simple, we’ve decided to list a handful of the most popular. Enjoy!

Essere con l’acqua alla gola

Literal translation: to be with water at your throat
English meaning: to be in trouble (often financially), to be up to one’s neck (in something)

Stare / Rimanere con il cuore in gola

Literal translation: to stay with one’s heart in one’s throat
English meaning: to have one’s heart in one’s throat

Avere un nodo alla gola / Avere un groppo in gola

Literal translation: to have a lump in one’s throat
English meaning: to have a lump in one’s throat

Restare a gola asciutta

Literal translation: to stay with a dry throat
English meaning: to not drink / to be disappointed

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