Italian Word of the Day: Bianco (white)

The word for white in Italian is bianco (masculine) but because it is an adjective, it also has feminine and plural forms: bianca, bianchi, and bianche.

IPA: /ˈbjaŋko/

La sposa ha messo il suo abito bianco.

The bride put on her white dress.


Below are a few important words that contain the word bianco:

  • vino bianco = white wine
  • abito bianco = white dress / wedding dress
  • bianco e nero = black and white
  • oro bianco = white gold
  • Bianca Neve = Snow White
Vino bianco = White wine

Additional meanings include light-coloured (but not necessarily white), spotless, or pale when referring to the colour of someone’s skin.

Sembra che tu abbia visto un fantasma. Sei bianco come un cencio.

It looks like you’ve seen a ghost. You’re as white as a sheet.


Perhaps even more intriguing than the word bianco itself is the expression in bianco which can mean any of the following depending on the context:

  • bland or plain food (e.g. Ho mangiato la pasta in bianco. = I ate plain pasta.)
  • sleepless (e.g. Ho passato una notte in bianco. = I had a sleepless night.) Notte bianca (white night) is a city event during which there are activities that last until the morning.
  • to be blank (e.g. Ho lasciato il documento in bianco. = I left the document blank.)
  • to fail at something or to not have sex (e.g. Sono uscito con Cinzia ma la serata è andata in bianco. = I went out with Cinzia but nothing happened.)

It is also part of the very common expression di punto in bianco which means out of the blue or all of a sudden.

Finally, if you wish to give full authority to someone to do something, you can give them carta bianca (carte blanche).

Mi hanno dato carta bianca per organizzare il loro matrimonio.

They gave me complete freedom to organise their wedding.


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