Italian Word of the Day: Pianeta (planet)

The Italian word for planet is pianeta, which comes from the Greek planetes via the Latin planeta.

/pia·né·ta/

Learn with our video


It would be logical to assume that it is a feminine noun given that it ends in the letter ‘a‘, but it is actually masculine. This is likely because the archaic version of the word ended in an ‘o‘ (pianeto).

  • un piccolo pianeta = a small planet
  • dei piccoli pianeti = small planets
  • il pianeta rotondo = the round planet
  • i pianeti rotondi = the round planets

Note: The feminine pianeta does exist and has two meanings: chasuble, an ornate vestment worn by a priest during Mass, and the less common horoscope card.

La Terra è il terzo pianeta più vicino al sole.

Earth is the third closest planet to the sun.


3d illustration of solar system planets set. The Sun and planets in a row on universe stars background.
Nel nostro sistema solare ci sono otto pianeti.There are eight planets in our solar system.

There are eight planets in our solar system (sistema solare):

  • Mercurio = Mercury
  • Venere = Venus
  • Terra = Earth
  • Marte = Mars
  • Giove = Jupiter
  • Saturno = Saturn
  • Urano = Uranus
  • Nettuno = Neptune

Pluto (Plutone), which was downgraded from planet status in 2006, is now classified as a pianeta nano (dwarf planet).

Il rover Perseverance è atterrato su Marte il diciotto Febbraio duemilaventuno.

The rover Perseverance landed on Mars on February 18th 2021.


These planets are classified in various ways. For example:

  • the pianeti terrestri are the four rocky planets closest to the sun
  • the pianeti gioviani are the gaseous outer planets
  • the pianeti superiori (or pianeti esterni) are the planets whose orbit is external to that of the Earth (that is, Mars to Neptune)
  • the pianeti inferiori (or pianeti interni) are Mercury and Venus, whose orbit is internal compared to that of the Earth.
planet mars
Mars is known as the red planet. – Marte è conosciuto come il pianeta rosso.

In more recent journalistic jargon, pianeta has come to denote groups comprised of a shared set of people, ideas, activities and so on, much like the word mondo (world). For example:

  • il pianeta calcio = the world of soccer
  • il pianeta della moda = the world of fashion

Essere di un altro pianeta (lit: to be from another planet) means that someone or something has a superior quality or characteristic.

Caspita, questa squadra è di un altro pianeta! Sarà un’impresa sconfiggerla.

Wow, this team is out of this world. It’s going to be a challenge to beat them.


In old literary Italian, pianeta was a synonym for horoscope and destiny, whereas in ancient times, it was also the term for any known celestial body that did not occupy a fixed position in the sky.


This article is also available in video format on our YouTube channel. The audio version can be found on Podbean, Google Podcast, Apple Podcast and Spotify.

Leave a Comment