Italian Word of the Day: Spilla (brooch / pin)

The word for an ornament that one fastens to clothing, either for decorative purposes or as a clasp, is spilla in Italian. It translates as either brooch or pin in English.

cover image with the word “spilla” and a brooch in the background

Being a feminine noun, it takes the following definite and indefinite articles:

la spilla
the brooch

una spilla
a brooch

le spille
the brooches

delle spille
(some) brooches

Some different kinds of spille you might encounter include:

  • spilla d’oro = gold brooch
  • spilla d’argento = silver brooch
  • spilla di diamanti = diamond brooch
  • spilla da cravatta = tie pin
  • spilla da foulard = scarf pin

Non trovo più la spilla che mi aveva regalato la nonna. Spero di non averla persa!

I can’t find the brooch my grandmother gave me. I hope I didn’t lose it.

A woman in a blue blazer wearing a brooch
Ha una spilla sulla giacca = She has a brooch on her blazer

A spilla di sicurezza (otherwise known as a spilla da balia, literally “the nanny’s pin”) is the word for a safety pin in Italian. In this particular expression, spilla is sometimes replaced by its masculine counterpart spillo, which is the word for a sewing pin or thumbtack.

High heels are referred to as tacchi a spillo because the long heel is reminiscent of a pin.

The augmentative spillone, on the other hand, is the word for a hat pin.

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