Italian Word of the Day: Mal di pancia (upset stomach / stomach ache)

If you’ve just gorged yourself on ten chocolate bars or come down with a nasty stomach virus, you may be experiencing some serious mal di pancia which is the colloquial Italian word for upset stomach or stomach ache!

Il bambino piangeva per il mal di pancia.

The child was crying because of an upset stomach.

If you’re talking to a child, you can say ti fa male il pancino (your little belly hurts).

Patient suffering from stomach ache while consulting doctor in clinic
Ho tanto mal di pancia! = I have such a stomach ache!

You can also experience mal di pancia when you laugh so much that you feel as if your sides are going to split.

Le sue battute mi fanno venire il mal di pancia dalle risate!

His jokes make me laugh so hard my stomach hurts!

Mal di pancia can also be used in a figurative sense to say that someone is boring.

Lui è noioso come il mal di pancia.

He is so boring.
(Lit: He is as boring as a stomach ache.)

If you far venire mal di pancia a qualcuno (make someone have a stomach ache), it means you are purposely trying to cause them grief or annoyance.

L’intento della protesta era di far venire il mal di pancia alle persone.

The purpose of the protest was to annoy people.

Another common way of saying mal di pancia is mal di stomaco. The two mean exactly the same thing but the latter is also used in a medical sense.

Il mal di stomaco è un disturbo molto comune.

Stomach pain is a very common disorder.

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