Italian Word of the Day: Anguria / Cocomero (watermelon)

In Italian, there are two predominant terms for watermelon, and the one you end up using the most will depend on where you live in Italy.

My husband is from Turin in the north-west of Italy, and the only word we’ve ever used for watermelon is anguria (feminine, plural: anguria). This term is also dominant in other northern regions such as Lombary and Veneto, as well as the island of Sardinia.

IPA: /anˈɡu.rja/

Esistono veramente delle persone a cui non piace l’anguria?

Are there really people who don’t like watermelon?

Le angurie sono verdi all’esterno. = Watermelon are green on the outside.

If you visit Tuscany and other parts of the central south however, you’ll discover that the most common term for watermelon is cocomero (masculine, plural: cocomeri). When I asked my husband if he was familiar with the term, he said he’d only ever heard it in the insult Testa di cocomero! (Watermelon head!)

IPA: /koˈ

Il bambino sta mangiando una fetta di cocomero fresco.

The child is eating a slice of fresh watermelon.

The takeaway message for learners of Italian is that both anguria and cocomero are perfectly and unequivocally understandable to any Italian, regardless of geographical origin.

Perhaps the only exception is regions such as Lombardy and Genova where both anguria and cocomero are in use but the latter refers to a cucumber (more commonly known as a cetriolo in standard Italian) rather than a watermelon!

Other dialectal variants for watermelon include:

  • melone d’acqua (Naples, Calabria, Sicily)
  • pasteca (North East, Liguria)
  • melone rosso (Sicily)
Il cocomero ha la polpa rossa. = The watermelon has red pulp.

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