Essential Italian Words

If you ever decide to go to Italy for travel, or you want to get a quick basis to learn Italian from. Or maybe you just want to bone-up on your Italian vocabulary. I’ve compiled a list of 200 essential Italian words. This vocabulary should serve you well going forward. If this post has helped you, you may also be interested in my list of 300 useful Italian phrases.

200 Essential Italian Words

Expression Definition
Amico A person you know well and regard with affection and trust; A person who loves someone or is loved by someone
Giorno A day reckoned from midnight to midnight; Time for Earth to make a complete rotation on its axis
Occhio The organ of sight
Strada An open way (generally public) for travel or transportation; Any artifact consisting of a road or path affording passage from one place to another
Figlio a human offspring (son or daughter) of any age; a male human offspring
Amore A strong positive emotion of regard and affection; A positive feeling of liking
Signore A man of refinement; A person who has general authority over others
Vita The condition of living or the state of being alive; A characteristic state or mode of living
Ragione The capacity for rational thought or inference or discrimination; A rational motive for a belief or action
Storia The continuum of events occurring in succession leading from the past to the present and even into the future; A record or narrative description of past events
Famiglia People descended from a common ancestor; A taxonomic group containing one or more genera
Ufficio The actions and activities assigned to or required or expected of a person or group; Place of business where professional or clerical duties are performed
Fuoco The process of combustion of inflammable materials producing heat and light and (often) smoke; Feelings of great warmth and intensity
Libertà The condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints
Dubbio Trouble or confusion resulting from complexity; The state of being unsure of something
Albero A tall perennial woody plant having a main trunk and branches forming a distinct elevated crown; A vertical spar for supporting sails
Vino Fermented juice (of grapes especially)
Sogno A series of mental images and emotions occurring during sleep; An erroneous mental representation
Movimento The act of changing location from one place to another; A group of people with a common ideology who try together to achieve certain general goals
Sorella A female person who has the same parents as another person; A female person who is a fellow member of a sorority or labor union or other group
Periodo An amount of time; An indefinite period
Volontà The capability of conscious choice and decision and intention; A legal document declaring a person’s wishes regarding the disposal of their property when they die
Attenzione Complete attention; intense mental effort
Difficoltà A condition or state of affairs almost beyond one’s ability to deal with and requiring great effort to bear or overcome
Passione A strong feeling or emotion; Any object of warm affection or devotion
Inizio The event consisting of the start of something; The act of starting something
Programma A series of steps to be carried out or goals to be accomplished; A program broadcast by television
Spettacolo The act of publicly exhibiting or entertaining; A social event involving a public performance or entertainment
Destino An event (or a course of events) that will inevitably happen in the future
Dovere Work that you are obliged to perform for moral or legal reasons
Nazione The people who live in a nation or country; The territory occupied by a nation
Vedere An attribute of vision; catch sight of; to perceive with the eyes
Tempo The continuum of experience in which events pass from the future through the present to the past; A reading of a point in time as given by a clock
Marito A married man; a woman’s partner in marriage
Ragazzo A youthful male person; A man who is the lover of a girl or young woman
Vicino Not far distant in time or space or degree or circumstances; a person who lives (or is located) near another
Possibilità A possible alternative; a quality that permits or facilitates achievement or accomplishment
Colpa The state of having committed an offense; A crime less serious than a felony
Domanda A sentence of inquiry that asks for a reply; An instance of questioning
Attimo A particular point in time
Senso The meaning of a word or expression; The way in which a word or expression or situation can be interpreted
Musica Any agreeable (pleasing and harmonious) sounds; A musical work that has been created
Mancare Feel or suffer from the lack of; Fail to attend an event or activity
Fortuna (Roman mythology) the goddess of fortune and good luck
Parola A unit of language that native speakers can identify; Noisy talk
Gioco An amusement or pastime; An artifact designed to be played with
Davanti At the front of; In front of
Pace Harmonious relations; freedom from disputes
Sacco A flexible container with a single opening; A loose-fitting dress hanging straight from the shoulders without a waist
Differenza A variation that deviates from the standard or norm; The quality of being unlike or dissimilar
Provincia A community of people smaller than a town
Passato The time that has elapsed; A verb tense that expresses actions or states in the past
Polizia The force of policemen and officers; A station that serves as headquarters for police in a particular district
Madre A woman who has given birth to a child; Forms during fermentation and is added to cider or wine to produce vinegar
Paura An emotion experienced in anticipation of some specific pain or danger; A feeling of evil to come
Cuore The hollow muscular organ located behind the sternum and between the lungs;
Credere Take to be true; Accept as true
Dolore A somatic sensation of acute discomfort; Emotional distress
Tornare Go or come back to place, condition, or activity where one has been before; Take up or begin anew
Primo The first element in a countable series; The first or highest in an ordering or series
Capo The upper part of the human body or the front part of the body in animals; A person who rules or guides or inspires others
Bambino A young person of either sex
Abbastanza Terminal where trains load or unload passengers or goods; A facility equipped with special equipment and personnel for a particular purpose
Chiaro Readily apparent to the mind; Having lots of light either natural or artificial
Prossimo Very close in space or time
Ospedale A health facility where patients receive treatment
Alto The highest or uppermost side of anything; Great in vertical dimension
Diventare Enter or assume a certain state or condition
Ricevere Get something; come into possession of
Bagno A vessel containing liquid in which something is immersed ; A room containing a bathtub or shower and usually a washbasin and toilet
Fretta A rate that is rapid
Traduzione A written communication in a second language having the same meaning as the written communication in a first language
Gamba A human limb; commonly used to refer to a whole limb but technically only the part of the limb between the knee and ankle
Situazione A condition or position in which you find yourself; The combination of circumstances at a given time
Giornata Period of time between the sunrise and sunset; The amount of time that a worker must work for an agreed daily wage
Chiamare Summon to a particular activity or employment; Assign a specified proper name to
Leggere Interpret something that is written or printed; Assign a meaning to
Aereo An aircraft that has a fixed wing and is powered by propellers or jets; Living or operating in the air
Futuro The near future; A verb tense that expresses actions or states in the future
Matrimonio The state of being a married couple voluntarily joined for life; The social event at which the ceremony of marriage is performed
Sentimento The experiencing of affective and emotional states
Autorità Persons who exercise administrative control over others; The power or right to give orders or make decisions
Maniera How something is done or how it happens; A courteous manner
Albergo A building where travelers can pay for lodging and meals and other services; A shelter from danger or hardship
Sorriso A facial expression characterized by turning up the corners of the mouth; usually shows pleasure or amusement
Ritorno A coming to or returning home; Getting something back again
Pranzo A midday meal
Proposta Something proposed such as a plan or assumption; Persuasion formulated as a suggestion
Chiave Metal device shaped in such a way that when it is inserted into the appropriate lock the lock’s mechanism can be rotated; Something crucial for explaining
Finestra A framework of wood or metal that contains a glass windowpane and is built into a wall or roof to admit light or air; An open or empty space in or between things
Piano A keyboard instrument that is played by depressing keys that cause hammers to strike tuned strings and produce sounds; A series of steps to be carried out or goals to be accomplished
Consiglio A proposal for an appropriate course of action; A body serving in an administrative capacity
Viaggio The act of going from one place to another; The act of traveling from one place to another
Macchina Motor that converts thermal energy to mechanical work; A motor vehicle with four wheels
Settimana A period of seven days; A week designated by an event or holiday occurring within it
Maestro An authority qualified to teach apprentices; A person with special knowledge or ability who performs skillfully
Industria The organized action of making of goods and services for sale; Buildings for carrying on industrial labor
Realtà The state of being actual or real; A statement or assertion of verified information about something that is the case or has happened
Pomeriggio The part of the day between noon and evening
Bellezza The qualities that give pleasure to the senses; A very attractive or seductive looking woman
Metro The basic unit of length adopted under the Systeme International d’Unites ; An electric railway operating below the surface of the ground
Normale Conforming with or constituting a norm or standard or level or type or social norm; not abnormal
Qualità An abstraction belonging to or characteristic of an entity; A basic or essential attribute shared by all members of a class
Bene That which is pleasing or valuable or useful; A strong positive emotion of regard and affection
Caldo The sensation caused by heat energy; The presence of heat
Facile Arrived at without due care or effort; lacking depth
Preciso Conforming exactly or almost exactly to fact or to a standard or performing with total accuracy
Straniero A person who comes from a foreign country; someone who does not owe allegiance to your country
Dolce A food rich in sugar; The property of tasting as if it contains sugar
Lingua A mobile mass of muscular tissue covered with mucous membrane and located in the oral cavity; A human written or spoken language used by a community
Cucina A room equipped for preparing meals; The practice or manner of preparing food or the food so prepared
Anima The immaterial part of a person; the actuating cause of an individual life
Giornale A daily or weekly publication on folded sheets containing news and articles; A daily written record of, usually personal, experiences and observations
Direttore Someone who controls resources and expenditures
Tavola A piece of furniture having a smooth flat top that is usually supported by one or more vertical legs
Pericolo The condition of being susceptible to harm or injury; A cause of pain or injury or loss
Avvocato A lawyer who pleads cases in court
Grande A fully developed person from maturity onward; Above average in size or number or quantity or magnitude or extent
Nuovo Not of long duration; having just come into being or been made or acquired or discovered
Ultimo Coming after all others in time or space or degree or being the only one remaining; Highest in extent or degree
Vecchio Having lived for a relatively long time or attained a specific age; Of long duration; not new
Piccolo A young person of either sex; Limited or below average in number or quantity or magnitude or extent
Giovane A girl or young woman who is unmarried; A teenager or a young adult male
Secondo 1/60 of a minute; the basic unit of time adopted under the Systeme International d’Unites
Lontano Located at a great distance in time or space or degree
Perfetto Being complete of its kind and without defect or blemish; A tense of verbs used in describing action that has been completed
Biondo A person with fair skin and hair
Pazzo A reckless impetuous irresponsible person
Rosso Red color or pigment; the chromatic color resembling the hue of blood
Sicuro Having or feeling no doubt or uncertainty; confident and assured
Semplice Readily apparent to the mind; Easy and not involved or complicated
Freddo The absence of heat; psychologically cool and unenthusiastic; unfriendly or unresponsive or showing dislike
Oggi The present time or age; The day that includes the present moment
Testa The upper part of the human body or the front part of the body in animals; contains the face and brains
Sentire The ability to respond to affective changes in your interpersonal environment; Perceive sound via the auditory sense
Donna An adult female person; A married woman; a man’s partner in marriage
Notte The dark part of the diurnal cycle considered a time unit; The time after sunset and before sunrise while it is dark outside
Vivere Have life, be alive; Go or live through
Sbagliarsi To make a mistake or be incorrect
Fame A physiological need for food; the consequence of food deprivation
Latte A white nutritious liquid secreted by mammals and used as food by human beings
Foglia The main organ of photosynthesis and transpiration in higher plants; A piece of thin and flexible sheet metal
Giustizia The quality of being just or fair
Calcio A football game in which two teams of 11 players try to kick or head a ball into the opponents’ goal
Mestiere The skilled practice of a practical occupation; The principal activity in your life that you do to earn money
Istante A particular point in time
Lago A body of water surrounded by land
Roba Miscellaneous unspecified objects
Favore An act of gracious kindness; The quality of having a superior or more favorable position
Popolazione A group of people living in a particular local area; A group of organisms of the same species inhabiting a given area
Zio The brother of your father or mother; the husband of your aunt
Frutto Edible reproductive body of a seed plant especially one having sweet flesh; Something that aids or promotes well-being
Onore Something given or done as an expression of esteem; The quality of being worthy of esteem or respect
Montagna A land mass that projects well above its surroundings; higher than a hill
Uomo An adult person who is male; A human being
Sistema An assemblage of parts that is regarded as a single entity; A group of independent but interrelated elements comprising a unified whole
Potere Possession of controlling influence; The power or right to give orders or make decisions
Brutto Disgustingly dirty; filled or smeared with offensive matter
Sicurezza Freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities
Nave A vessel that carries passengers or freight
Compagnia The state of being with someone; Organization of performers and associated personnel
Funzionare Be in a state of action; Perform as expected when applied
Messaggio Something that is communicated by or to or between people or groups; A public display of a message
Ottimo The highest level or degree attainable; the highest stage of development
Mese One of the twelve divisions of the calendar year; A time unit of approximately 30 days
Tutto All of something including all its component elements or parts
Fare Act so as to bring into existence; Actively cause something to happen
Mai Never
Grazia Elegance and beauty of movement or expression; The quality of being warmhearted and considerate and humane and sympathetic
Anche Also; Too
Essere The state or fact of existing; The essential qualities or characteristics by which something is recognized
Lavoro Activity directed toward making or doing something; The occupation for which you are paid
Padre A male parent; `Father’ is a term of address for priests in some churches
Senza Without something; Not having something
Sotto Under; Below
Domani The day after today; The near future
Insieme Any number of entities considered as a unit
Capire Know and comprehend the nature or meaning of; Make sense of
Finire Have an end, in a temporal, spatial, or quantitative sense; either spatial or metaphorical
Città A large and densely populated urban area; may include several independent administrative districts
Forte A fortified defensive structure; Having strength or power greater than average or expected
Bravo Generally admired; Capable of pleasing
Scuola An institution dedicated to education; A building where young people receive education
Chiedere Express the need or desire for; ask for
Gentile Having or showing a tender and considerate and helpful nature; used especially of persons and their behavior
Radio An electronic receiver that detects and demodulates and amplifies transmitted signals; An intensely radioactive metallic element that occurs in minute amounts in uranium ores
Spesso Often; Thick; Dense
Calma A pause for relaxation; The absence of mental stress or anxiety
Grosso Big; Large; Fat
Cavallo Solid-hoofed herbivorous quadruped domesticated since prehistoric times; A padded gymnastic apparatus on legs
Segreto Information known only to a special group
Veloce Done or occurring in a brief period of time
Allora Then; Therefore; Now
Ancora Still; Yet; More
Sempre Always; Ever; Forever
Soldi Money; Cash
Guardare Perceive with attention; direct one’s gaze towards
Prendere Get into one’s hands; take physically; Regain possession of something
Trovare Come upon after searching; find the location of something that was missed or lost
Coraggio A challenge to do something dangerous or foolhardy