Italian Word of the Day: Tata (babysitter / nanny)

The generic word used to indicate any woman, other than the mother, who takes care of a child is tata (feminine, plural: tate) in Italian. Some possible translations in English include babysitting, nanny and childminder.

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

Usually, tata denotes a woman whose full-time profession is childminding, rather than a teenager or young woman who occasionally babysits. (The latter is usually referred to with the English word babysitter pronounced with an Italian accent!)

Ho fatto la tata a tempo pieno presso una famiglia benestante di Torino.

I worked as a full-time nanny for a wealthy family from Turin.

Young female woman babysitter and toddler baby girl read book in autumn park. Happy family mom and toddler outdoors in fall park.
La tata legge un libro alla bambina. = The nanny reads a book to the child.

Tata is onomatopoeic in that it mimics baby talk, much like the words nanna (nap / sleep) and pappa (baby food / mush).

Some possible synonyms for tata include:

  • balia = a woman who a) sells her milk to another mother, or b) takes care of a baby in the place of the mother
  • bambinaia = a salaried woman who is responsible for the care and custody of young children in a family
  • governante = a salaried woman who takes care of the house and gives the children an education (governess)

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