Italian Word of the Day: Calvo (bald)

The word for bald or bald-headed in Italian is calvo, which comes from the Latin calvus of the same meaning. Its feminine form is calva and their respective plural forms are calvi and calve.

/càl·vo/

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cover image with the word “calvo” and its translation written on a notepad next to a cup of cofee

Essere calvo means to be bald whereas diventare calvo means to go bald.

Sarò calvo fra qualche anno. Ho già una stempiatura, non vedi?

I’ll be bald in a few years. I already have a receding hairline, don’t you see?


Calvo can refer specifically to the head (i.e. testa calva = bald head) or to the person who is bald (i.e. un uomo calvo = a bald man).

Like many adjectives, calvo can also function as a noun that means bald-headed person or baldy. The opposite would be capellone, the word for a person with an abundance of hair.

Da giovane mio padre era un capellone, ma ora è completamente calvo.

My father had lots of hair when he was young, but now he’s completely bald.


Portrait of content bald manual worker with beard holding work gloves and leaning on metal railings at factory
Sarò anche calvo ma ho una barba bella spessa! I may be bald, but I have a very thick beard!

Some other terms related to baldness include:

  • calvizie = baldness
  • pelata = bald spot
  • rapa = shaved head, bald head (lit: turnip)
  • perdere i capelli = to be balding, to lose one’s hair
  • stempiatura = receding hairline
  • essere stempiato = to have a receding hairline

A commonly used synonym for calvo is pelato. The latter has a broader meaning however, referring not only to bald heads but to any hairless part of the body or living thing.

Ho la testa tutta pelata adesso. Vabbè, almeno risparmierò i soldi del parrucchiere.

My head is completely bald now. Oh well, at least I won’t have to spend money at the hairdresser’s.


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