Italian Language Blog

Il nuovo vocabolario Posted by on Apr 15, 2021 in Italian Language, Vocabulary

Il nuovo vocabolario – New vocabulary

Photo from Pixabay, CCO.

Last week I posted part of the first chapter of Harry Potter e la Pietra Filosofale, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and I suggested reading books that you have read in the past in order to help with your Italian reading comprehension. 

When reading books whose story you already know well, you can focus on smaller details such as grammatical constructions and vocabulary acquisition. You will be able to pick up vocabulary contextually, especially if you know the story well.

These words will most likely become passive vocabulary for you, however, and not active – whereas you can recognize the word when read or heard, but you cannot use it in conversation yourself! We will discuss ways below on how to make these new words active.

Here are some vocabulary words from the text that you may not have known, or you have deduced from the context:

sciocchezze – nonsense

orgoglioso – proud

trapani – drills

corpulento – corpulent (fat)

nerboruto – sinewy (lean and muscular)

paio di baffi – mustache

la siepe del giardino – the garden hedge

figlioletto – little son

timore – fear

addirittura – even

fare finta – to pretend

buono a nulla (di) – good for nothing 

rabbrividire – to shiver

paraggi – nearby

i coniugi – the spouses

nuvoloso – cloudy

presagire – to predict, to foretell

canticchiando – humming 

chiacchierare – to chat

ininterrottamente – continuously 

seggiolone – highchair

squarciagola – at the top of one’s lungs


Now of course we want these words to be  apart of our active vocabulary, so not only can you recognize them, but you can readily use them in conversation yourself. In order to do that, you must work with them in more ways than just through reading.

You should:

  • use them in conversation (speaking)
  • write them in contextualized sentences (writing)
  • listen to native speakers saying these words (listening)

That way, along with the reading, you are practicing these vocabulary words in every language learning modality. Some modalities may actually work better for you as the learner, but in order for this word to really stick in your mind, you need to be using it as much as you can, across all the disciplines.

For speaking, write these words down and challenge yourself to bring them up in your next Italian conversation. For writing, maybe pick 5 words or so and write out your own mini-story, or just write out individual sentences utilizing these words. Listening is a bit more difficult – but if you are lucky to have native speakers with whom you practice, ask them to utilize these words in context with you during your next conversation. Or turn to technology – get the audio book and start listening along as you read, utilize Italian dictionaries where you can listen to the word, and even listen to examples of the word being used in context!

Lastly, repetition is key. Keep repeatedly using and practicing these words, and they will become active vocabulary for you quickly.

Here’s some more Harry Potter vocabulary for fun:


Grifondoro – gryffindor

Tassorosso – hufflepuff

Corvonero – ravenclaw

Serpeverde – slytherin

Divinazione – divination

Babbanologia – muggle studies

Incantesimi – charms

Trasfigurazione – transfiguration

Difesa contro le arti oscure – defense against the dark arts

Pozioni – potions

Storia della magia – history of magic

Cura delle creature magiche – care of magical creatures

cacciatore – chaser

battitore – beater

portiere – keeper

cercatore – seeker

pluffa – quaffle

bolide – bludger

boccino d’oro – golden snitch

bacchetta – wand

mantello dell’invisibilità – invisibility cloak

mappa del malandrino – marauders’ map

*cappello parlante – sorting hat

*mangiamorte – death eater

dissennatore – dementor

ippogrifo – hippogriff

lupo mannaro – werewolf

*strillettera – howler

*magonò – squib


Some of my favorites are starred above. Mangiamorte for the literal translation of death eater, cappello parlante, the “talking hat” for the sorting hat. Strillettera, “scream letter” for the howler. Magonò, “wizard no” for a squib – or someone who was born a wizard but does not have the ability to use magic.

Which new vocabulary words do you like the most?

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About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement for Transparent Language.


  1. Rosanna g McFarlin:

    Tutte molto interessanti. Grazie.

  2. Mike Jolly:

    Ciao Bridgette
    Grazie per tutto il tuo lavoro.
    Le mie figlie leggevano i libri di Harry Potter quando erano giovani.
    Li ho letti nell’ultimo anno e penso che siano ideali per gli studenti B1 / B2 soprattutto dopo i primi due libri.
    Consiglio anche Jhumpa Lahiri che ha scritto “In altre parole”

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