Italian Word of the Day: Lupo (wolf)

If you are familiar with the English word lupine, it shouldn’t be too difficult to remember the word lupo (masculine, plural: lupi), which is the Italian for wolf.

IPA: /ˈlu.po/

A wolf cub is known as a lupetto. This is also the term used for a cub scout in the young Scouts organisation and the mock turtleneck.

Below is a list of various animals and creatures whose names contain the word lupo.

  • lupo mannaro = werewolf
  • cane lupo = wolf dog
  • lupo della prateria = coyote
  • lupo di mare = sea dog
  • lupo solitario = lone wolf
howling wolf
Image released into the public domain by its author, Retron, at the Wikipedia project.

The expression ‘In bocca al lupo’ (good luck)

In Italy and many other countries, superstition dictates that it is actually very bad luck to openly wish someone good luck (buona fortuna). The best way to bring someone good luck, it is said, is by wishing the exact opposite! A good example of this in English is the expression Break a leg! which we say to performers before they go on stage.

This is why Italians use the expression In bocca al lupo! which literally translates as In the mouth of the wolf!

The appropriate response to In bocca al lupo! is Crepi il lupo! (lit: death to the wolf) rather than grazie (thank you). Note that it can be abbreviated to just Crepi!

In bocca al lupo per domani! – Crepi il lupo!

Good luck tomorrow! – Thanks!


Idioms featuring the word ‘lupo’

Chi pecora si fa, il lupo se la mangia

Literal translation: those who make themselves sheep will be eaten by the wolf
English meaning: if you are weak, you will not survive


Il lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio

Literal translation: the wolf sheds its fur but not its vice
English meaning: a leopard can’t change its spots


Mettere un lupo a sorvegliare le pecore

Literal translation: to set a wolf to guard sheep
English meaning: a fox in the henhouse


Credit: Yellowstone National Park from Yellowstone NP, USA, Dhaval Vargiya
(CC BY-SA 4.0)

‘Attenti al Lupo’ – Lucio Dalla

One of the most famous songs sung by Lucio Dalla is called Attenti al Lupo (Beware the Wolf). It reached number one in the year 1990 and remains a much-loved pop tune even today.

C’è una casetta piccola così
Con tante finestrelle colorate
E una donnina piccola così
Con due occhi grandi per guardare
E c’è un omino piccolo così
Che torna sempre tardi da lavorare
E ha un cappello piccolo così
Con dentro un sogno da realizzare
E più ci pensa, più non sa aspettare

Amore mio non devi stare in pena
Questa vita è una catena
Qualche volta fà un po’ male
Guarda come son tranquilla io
Anche se attraverso il bosco
Con l’aiuto del buon dio
Stando sempre attenta al lupo
Attenti al lupo
Attenti al lupo
Living together
Living together

Laggiù c’è un prato piccolo così

Con un gran rumore di cicale
E un profumo dolce e piccolo così


Amore mio è arrivata l’estate
Amore mio è arrivata l’estate
E noi due qui distesi a far l’amore
In mezzo a questo mare di cicale
Questo amore piccolo così
Ma tanto grande che mi sembra di volare
E più ci penso più non so aspettare

Amore mio non devi stare in pena
Questa vita è una catena
Qualche volta fa un po’ male
Guarda come son tranquilla io
Anche se attraverso il bosco
Con l’aiuto del buon dio
Stando sempre attenta al lupo
Attenti al lupo
Attenti al lupo
Living together
Living together

There is such a small house
With many coloured windows
And such a small woman
With two big eyes for watching

And there is such a small man
Who always comes back from work late
And he has such a small hat
With a dream inside to be realised

And the more he thinks about it, the more he can’t wait

My love, you must not be in pain

This life is a chain
Sometimes it hurts a little
Look how quiet I am
Although through the woods
With the help of the good god
Always being careful of the wolf
Beware the Wolf
Beware the Wolf
Living together
Living together

There is such a small meadow over there
With cicadas making lots of noise
And such a sweet and small perfume
My love, summer has arrived
My love, summer has arrived
And the two of us lying here making love
In the midst of this sea of ​​cicadas
This little love like that
But so big that I seem to be flying

And the more I think about it, the more I can’t wait

My love, you must not be in pain

This life is a chain
Sometimes it hurts a little
Look how quiet I am Although through the woods
With the help of the good god
Always being careful of the wolf
Beware the Wolf
Beware the Wolf
Living together
Living together

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