Italian Word of the Day: Sottobicchiere (coaster / mat)

The word for a mat or coaster that you put under cups, mugs, bottles and glasses to avoid staining or wetting a surface is sottobicchiere (masculine, plural: sottobicchieri) in Italian.


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

It is the combination of two words: sotto meaning under or underneath and bicchiere meaning drinking glass.

Sottobicchieri can be made of various materials, including:

  • vetro = glass
  • metallo = metal
  • legno = wood
  • plastica = plastic
  • gomma = rubber
  • ardesia = slate
  • ceramica = ceramic
  • feltro = felt
  • pelle = leather
  • stoffa = fabric
  • bambù = bamboo
  • pietra = stone

Usate i sottobicchieri per favore. Non voglio vedere macchie sul tavolo!

Use the coasters please. I don’t want to see stains on the table!

Glass of whiskey sitting on a passport
Usa il suo passaporto come sottobicchiere! – He’s using his passport as a coaster!

When talking about a spill mat or bar runner found on bar or pub counters in particular, you’ll hear the term tappetino da banco / da bancone. A tappetino da tavola is the mat you put under your plate, and a tappetino del mouse is the mouse pad for computers.

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