Italian mistakes

6 embarrassing mistakes to avoid in Italian

Learning Italian or planning to exercise your Italian during your holidays? Italian can be a minefield for well-intentioned non native speakers. Don’t make yourself a laughing-stock and check out our list of six of the most embarrassing mistakes to avoid.

1) Conservanti/preservativi

“Preservativo” is not Italian for preservatives – it actually means “condom”. So if you’re the kind of person who insists on eating organic food that’s free of preservatives, do yourself a favour and learn the word “conservanti”.


Photo: ienjoysushi/Flickr

2) Pisolino/pisellino

It’s a warm summer afternoon and you’d like nothing better than to curl up and take a nap. But when you inform your Italian hosts you want a “pisellino”, they look at you with a mixture of horror and amusement. The word you were searching for is in fact “pisolino”. “Pisellino” means small penis and is usually used to refer to the male organ of little children.


Photo: Arc-light/Flickr

3) Scopare

When an Italian friend texts to ask if you’re free for a coffee, you text back to say you need to finish sweeping first he will quickly hang up. Not because he is worried about your spring cleaning but because he thought that you mean something else: “scopare” can mean both “to sweep” and the vulgar word for having sex. Just stick to generic verbs like “pulire” (to clean).


Photo: cobaltfish/Flickr

4) Penne/pene

Penne is most people’s favourite pasta, perhaps yours as well. Leave out a crucial “n”, however, and you’re once again referring to male genitalia. So next time you tell your Italian friends about your favourite Italian food, make sure to pronounce the word correctly.


Photo: cobaltfish/Flick

5) Pecorino/pecorina

Food is probably the most common topic of conversation in Italy and pecorino is one of the most popular Italian cheeses, eaten alone or in a recipe, so you should beware of this trap. Let’s say you want to tell people how much you love “pecorino”. Tell them you love the “pecorina”, however, and you’ve just revealed that you enjoy having sex doggie-style.


Photo: Madame Fromage1/Flickr

6) Fico/fica

Italian figs are delicious! The feminine form “fica” is the vulgar word equivalent to a female genital. Oops!!”Fico” and “Fica” are also used in Italian slang for cool or trendy.



Do you have examples to add to this list? Please, let me know.


[Source: The Local]​

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