Italian Language Blog

Irregular Italian nouns: continued Posted by on Dec 20, 2019 in Grammar, Italian Language

Ciao a tutti!

Last week we saw some nouns that seemingly change genders from singular to plural. Today, we are going to see some more irregular Italian nouns; specifically, nouns with two plurals and different meanings. But before that, vorrei augurare un buon natale a tutti! Arriva Babbo Natale tra 5 giorni!


E adesso per i nomi bislacchi… and now for the quirky nouns!

Nouns that have two plurals with different meanings: 

Il braccio  I bracci (arms of a couch) Le braccia (arms on a person)
Il ciglio  I cigli (edges) Le ciglia (eyelashes)
Il corno  I corni (horns- instruments) Le corna (horns of animals)
Il filo I fili (threads of clothes) Le fila (threads of a plot)
Il gesto I gesti (gestures) Le gesta (deeds)
Il membro I membri (members of a family) Le membra (members on the body)
Il frutto I frutti (fruits on a singular tree, fruits of an activity) La frutta/Le frutta (collective fruits)
Il ditto I diti (fingers considered individually – such as “i diti indici”) Le dita (fingers, considered collectively “le dita di una mano”)
Il fondamento I fondamenti (basic principles) Le fondamenta (foundations of buildings)
Il labbro I labbri (lips of a wound, cup..) Le labbra (lips of a mouth)
Il muro I muri (walls of a building) Le mura (walls of a city)
L’osso  Gli ossi (bones of an animal) Le ossa (bones of a person)
Il grido I gridi (cries of animals) Le grida (cries of people)

Tocca a voi!
Have you ever seen any other nouns with dual meanings in the plural?

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About the Author: Bridgette

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


  1. marga:

    How about the noun ginocchio?

    • Bridgette:

      @marga Hi Marga,

      Ginocchio can be feminine or masculine plural, you’re right, however there is no different meaning between the two forms, so I didn’t include it on my list. Same with orecchio, sopracciglio… I believe there are regional differences as to when one is favored over the other.

  2. Joan Engelhaupt:

    Hi, Bridgette! My comment actually goes back a couple of weeks to the lesson where you included the partisan song, “Ciao, Bella, Ciao, Ciao, Ciao”. In the past week I was so excited to hear it twice: on the radio I heard the Sardine Movement people singing it, and then last night I watched the movie, “The Two Popes”, in which it forms part of the musical soundtrack. I felt like I was in on some kind of Italian secret because you’d taught it to us!

    • Bridgette:

      @Joan Engelhaupt Joan, your comment made me smile, thank you! I’m so glad that I can teach you and everyone else a little something that makes you feel like it’s an “Italian secret!”

  3. Nek:

    Does somebody know why the “Ciao Bella” is used as one of the soundtrack in “The two Popes” ?

Leave a comment to Bridgette