Italian Word of the Day: Mucca (cow)

The Italian word for cow is mucca (feminine, plural: mucche). As in English, the word refers to the female of a domesticated breed of ox that produces milk (latte) or beef (carne bovina).

italian word for cow

To milk a cow in Italian translates as mungere una mucca.

Molti allevatori continuano a mungere le loro mucche a mano.

Many farmers continue to milk their cows by hand.

Cows on pasture
Una mucca in un pascolo – A cow in a pasture

Another name for a cow in Italian is vacca. This term is normally used by breeders to denote the adult female who has already given birth. When they wish to indicate a cow of any kind instead, regardless of age or whether it has given birth, it is called a bovina, whereas a young cow is a giovenca or vitellona.

Because vacca is considered vulgar due to its use as a derogatory slang term towards women, mucca or mucca da latte (dairy cow) are the preferred terms in day-to-day speech.

Tu sai qual’è la differenza fra la mucca e la vacca?

Do you know the difference between “mucca” and “vacca”?

There are three possible theories for the origin of the word mucca.

The first, proposed by Treccani, is that it comes from the Swiss-German Mugg and was originally used to denote the Swiss cows bought at the Lugano fair.

Sapere, on the other hand, states that the origin is uncertain. One theory suggests it is a hybrid of the words muggire (to moo) and vacca. Another is that it is simply onomatopoeic (mug).

Finally, the mad cow disease that originated in the United Kingdom in 1996 is known as morbo della mucca pazza in Italy.

Ethics statement: Below you will find affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!

Lingopie (affiliate link) is the Netflix of language learning application that uses real TV shows and movies to help you learn a new language. You can choose a show to watch based on your fluency level, and use the interactive subtitles to get instant translations to help you learn quickly.

Are you interested in improving your Italian in a fun and stress-free manner? Then we highly recommend Serena Capilli's short stories in Italian (affiliate link), designed for beginners, advanced beginners, and lower intermediate learners (A1-B1 CEFR). These stories have been optimised for English speakers in search of a fun, laid-back learning experience! Read our full review here.

Leave a Comment