Italian Word of the Day: Spicciolo (loose change)

Spicciolo (masculine, plural spiccioli) is the word for loose / spare / small change in Italian. It derives from the verb spicciolare which means to pick off or to change (a sum of money) into (a different currency or denomination).


Hai qualche spicciolo da darmi?

Do you have any spare change you can give me?

Mi dispiace, non ho spiccioli da darti.

I’m sorry, I don’t have any change to give you.

various Euro coins on a table
Ti ho lasciato qualche spicciolo sul tavolo. – I left you some change on the table.

When used as a noun, the gender is always masculine. When used as an adjective however, the gender changes according to the subject. For example:

  • un euro spicciolo = one euro in change / coins
  • moneta spicciola = another way of saying loose change

An informal variation on spiccioli is the abbreviated spicci (masculine, singular: spiccio), which can be heard in standard Italian but is used most extensively in Rome. And according to Which Way to Rome, some Romans even go as far as to abbreviate the abbreviation to spic (pronounced like the English word ‘speech‘)!

Spicciolo has another unrelated meaning which is simple, banal or common. For example, una questione spicciola is a simple / banal question whereas gente spicciola means simple / common people.

Leave a Comment