Italian Language Blog

Italian Sexual Euphemisms Posted by on Dec 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

With a title like that I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be our most viewed post of 2015! WARNING: This Blog Contains Naughty Words and a joke with the word God in it!

In my article Italian False Friends I wrote: “If I were you, I’d be more concerned about the plethora of euphemistic words that refer to genitalia and sex … now those can be really embarrassing! Hmm, I suppose I’d better write a blog on the topic” Well folks, here it is!
There are literally hundreds of sexual euphemisms in Italian, but in order to keep you out of trouble I’m going to narrow down the list to those words which have a double meaning, one perfectly innocent and the other potentially embarrassing.



What’s so funny about a new neighbour who wants to get drunk and sweep all night long? Well, the verb scopare (to sweep) is one of the many Italian euphemisms for fuck.



 Yep … trombare (‘to trumpet’) is another euphemism for fuck!

Two other common euphemisms for fuck are: chiavare, literally ‘to use the key’ and fottere, to plant


Then we have segare (literally: to saw) which is used for male masturbation, hence farsi una sega (literally: to give oneself a saw) means to masturbate one self.


Particularly dangerous for the unwary foreigner are Italian euphemisms for cunt:

Hmmm ... 1 meter 88, 26 years old, entrepreneur, 90-100 million a year. Hmmm ... 2 tits 1 cunt

Hmmm … 1 meter 88, 26 years old, entrepreneur, 90-100 million a year. Hmmm … 2 tits 1 cunt

N.B. fico (masculine) is fig, fica (feminine) is cunt (also spelt figa). Pay particular attention here because normally tree are masculine and fruits feminine, e.g. melo = apple tree, mela = apple. Logically, therefore, fica should be the fruit of the fico, but in this case both the tree and the fruit are fico

Two other common Italian words for vagina are: farfallina (literally: little butterfly) and patatina (literally: little potato)


Euphemisms for prick/dick abound in Italy, cazzo probably being the most common …


… but we also have: uccello (literally: bird) and pisello (literally: pea)

La verginità è come una mollica di pane, passa l’uccello e se la porta via!
Virginity is like a bread crumb, the bird passes and takes it away!

Una volta Dio mi disse: “Figliolo, puoi scegliere se avere un pisello enorme o una buona memoria”, solo che non mi ricordo più cosa ho risposto!
God once told me “My son, you can choose whether to have an enormous penis or a good memory”, it’s just that I can’t remember what my answer was!

Have any of you had any embarrassing moments with Italian sexual euphemisms? Please share.

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  1. Gerry:

    Mamma mia! Non mi meraviglio che il fruttivendolo era tanto scioccato quando gli ho chiesto il prezzo di una fica! Lì non ci posso tornare più. A proposito il tuo blog è fantastico. Molto utile.


  2. jass:

    once couple of guys asked me where there is panetteria close to here and I said that i think there is penetteria around the corner.. they couldn’t stop laughing…

    • Geoff:

      @jass They tell me that the Amsterdam Sexy Shop is a very good alternative 🙂

  3. Jackie:

    Perhaps now would be a good time to have a discussion on the various uses of the verb ‘godere’?

  4. Lee:

    Io vivo in Colorado, e un amica italiana mi ha detto che vuole visitare, ed avere la sua foto preso, forse mentre in tenere un fucile. Ho risposto “Ah, una pistola con una pistola!”

  5. Gary Donovan:

    Exquisite as usual.
    A wonderful blog at all times.
    Your blog is number one one in everything on the web. You have given all of us a very sensitive glimpse into Italian life, language and culture. Wonderful. Gary.

  6. Tony:

    I had Google Translate give me the Italian for an old saying: “When you’re born stupid, it lasts a long time” but it gave me “duro lungo” which means “long and hard”. My Italian teacher was so embarrassed, she wouldn’t tell me what the problem was.

    • Geoff:

      @Tony Classic! Thanks for sharing that Tony 🙂

  7. Michael Stevens:

    I would love to see a post about words to describe the less graphic interactions between men and women. 🙂 I’m particularly confused about how to say “girlfriend,” as distinguished from “friend who is a girl.” Same with boyfriend. I’m sure there is a lot of subtlety, and you are masters of that!

    • Serena:

      @Michael Stevens Salve Michael, parleremo di ‘fidanzati’ al più presto, promesso.
      Saluti da Serena

      • Daverro:

        @Serena Que es una “cannoli” a Milano ? Grazie, amico.

  8. Chippy:

    Porca Miseria!! Non ho il tempo da leggerlo adesso – ma grazie!


    This is completely uncalled for. Please do not repeat things like this. Thanks.

    • Geoff:

      @DOM CANGELOSI Quote from blog intro: WARNING: This Blog Contains Naughty Words and a joke with the word God in it!

      Seems pretty clear to me, what do you think?

      Saluti da Geoff.

      • PaulM:

        @Geoff @Annie… il “morning wood” lo chiamiamo “alzabandiera” (flag-raising ceremony)

  10. Joan Engelhaupt:

    In a restaurant in Veneto, I meant to ask the waiter if I could borrow his pen but asked to borrow his penis instead.

  11. Rc:

    This is the most inappropriate blog I have ever seen. For an educational practice site that reaches multiple levels of age groups it is extremely distasteful. Words like these are most often expressed either in anger, or disrespect towards another person and have no place in daily conversation. How can this knowledge be advantageous to anyone who travels to Italy?
    your graphic descriptions are appalling. Words like these are shared in a private setting not on a public blog.

    • Geoff:

      @Rc Dear RC, if you want to read the usual pretty blogs about Italy, that describe jolly Italian peasants, fields of Tuscan sunflowers, and romantic mandolin music, then this is not the blog for you

      Our blog is about the real everyday Italy, inhabited by people of all kinds, and of all levels of education.
      If you truly believe that: “Words like these are most often expressed either in anger, or disrespect towards another person and have no place in daily conversation.” then your knowledge of Italy is obviously extremely limited. The words and expressions in this blog are extremely common and are used by people from all walks of life.
      Perhaps in England or America it would be shocking to hear a bank manager or lawyer say “oh fuck”, but it’s really no big surprise here. The truly offensive words are not parolacce, but bestemmie, i.e. religious swearing.

      You also ask: “How can this knowledge be advantageous to anyone who travels to Italy?”

      If you care to read through the other comments you will find students of Italian who have made embarrassing mistakes by using the wrong words, or accidentally using words that have a sexual connotation.

      Do feel free, however, to totally ignore the advice given in my blog, then you can naively go into a fruttivendolo and ask the young girl at the counter “quanto mi costa una bella fica matura?”

      Do let us know how that works out for you won’t you.

      Alla prossima, Geoff

      • Davide:

        @Geoff RC This block is fantastic. We Italians are everything but puritisim and, sexual connotation words can be heard in the daily life. If you want to learn about a culture you should be open mind to accept people as they are.

      • Daverro:

        @Geoff Appalling indeed, Sir ! Where is your graphic commentary that is a bit more evocative of the earthy, The voluptuous, the jouissance ? Bring me pasta alla puttanesca made with fresh strozzaprieti !

      • Angela Blackthorne:

        @Geoff And yet, it’s important for people new to the language to become familiar with slang terms so they know what is being said to them. Knowing that someone is angry enough to cuss you out is a valuable piece of cultural knowledge and might help a stranger to the culture avoid harm.

  12. Dee:

    Yes, very embarrassing : I told my teacher that I wished she would teach us how to “fare la scopa”, so we could play together after school, meaning, of course, the card game.

    • Geoff:

      @Dee Nice!!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      • Riccardo:

        @Geoff Nice blog, useful and funny il mio amico:)
        What are some affectionate terms for breast and butts? Grazie!

  13. Paul:


    Great blog. I’m glad you are not giving any credence to some of the posters complaining about the topic and/or language. This is CRITICAL information to know when you are trying to speak to people in a different culture.

    Also, if you don’t understand these double meanings you won’t be able to understand much of the humor of a culture. Very important.

    Keep up the great work! A presto!


    • Geoff:

      @Paul Thanks for your support Paul, I completely agree with your rationale. I’ve embarrassed myself enough times using ‘scopare’ (giggles from my Italian friends) and fica, to understand that I’d be doing my readers an injustice by not forewarning them.

      Boun Anno, saluti da Geoff 🙂

      • sylvia saliba:

        @Geoff Hello everyone here,
        I am a Latina, trying to move to Rome for a job. I like this post especially because they say it like it is,
        Anyone can recommend a school to learn Italian in Rome?

  14. christina kennedy:

    My dad used to always phone his friends with the opening line ciao pistola or ciao stronzo. Not something I would hear from my English family. Thought it was an Italian thing, but maybe it was just my dad’s thing. He would also fart at the table with his friends and they would all find it hilarious. I miss him

  15. Annie:

    With an italian bf it is a very useful blog…thankyou. Everything sounds lovely in italian…but I’d like to know I’m not being linguistically inappropriate …and which words are commonly used and which have derogatry connotations.

    (Blushes) can I ask an embarassing question?
    Well- Is their a particular italian euphemism for a mans morning wood ? ( blushes again)

    • Geoff:

      @Annie Ciao Annie, hmm … the morning wood … I don’t know of any particular expression but I’ll ask around for you, va bene?

      A presto, Geoff 🙂

  16. Jeff Edwards:

    Hi Geoff,

    We were on a hike with a group of Italians. I stopped at a picturesque spot to get a picture with my daughter. An Italian offered to take the picture of us. I said “say patata” instead “say cheese” because we had just come from Spain. Everyone froze and looked at me. The girl said that patata is also pussy. Have you heard this?

    • Geoff:

      @Jeff Edwards Ciao Jeff, yes, patata (pussy) is another one to add to the long list of Italian sexual euphemisms! Of course, if you’re talking about recipes, groceries or gardening you don’t need to worry. So don’t be scared to use it in the right context.

      A presto, Geoff

  17. Mark Trigg:

    Great site!

  18. gabriel:

    I wanted to ask what does
    Ma per favore!
    Translate to in English… is it a sexual term?

    • Serena:

      @gabriel Ciao Gabriel, Ma per favore! literally means ‘but please’ and can be interpreted as ‘oh come on!’ when someone is exaggerating. It has absolutely no sexual connotation.

  19. Betty:

    My cousin in Italy had a fig tree in his yard. I asked him once how the figs were and, of course, I used the wrong word. He has a hard time looking at me now.

    • Geoff:

      @Betty Grazie per il tuo commento Betty!

      A presto, Geoff 🙂


    A father wanting to find grand-children asked his brother to evaluate two potential suitors. Of one, the brother reported simply SP and told the father it meant, “Sempre Pronto”. Of the other he wrote SPP. Thinking this was even better than the first he allowed him to marry his daughter. After several years of no grand-children, the disappointed father asked his brother what did he mean by SPP; to which he replied, “Solo Per Pisciare.”

  21. Patrick Proietti:

    My brother sent this to me. Hysterical! My grandfather used to say (from Abruzzi)
    Va fare una ficata in tu culo.

  22. Roberto:

    I found a TV dinner named ‘beef steak and pasta’ Ilike.The pasta is called ‘mafalda’ on the box and it really resembles the female anatom

    I found a TV dinner ‘beef steak and pasta’ I occasionally like and the pasta is labeled ‘mafalda’ on the box and looks suspiciously like a vagina inside. I heard the word mafalda as a slang term for the same part…. Coincidence? Don’t think so!

  23. J.F. Farley:

    When I was in college, years ago, it was a common observation to use the words:”lunch meats” to refer to the external parts of the female genitals, and I was told some years later that the Italian expression, “carne da
    Pranzo,” which means lunch meats was sometimes used in Italy to refer to the female parts. I never thought of the expression as having reference to certain things like cunnulingus–it sees simply to refer to the way that the female labia protrude from the vaginal cleft in somewhat the way that cold cuts like salami or mortadella or suppressota protrude around the edge of a sandwich like the ones you get at Subway. This usage of the term isn’t mentioned in here , so has it gone out of fashion? I always thought the comparison was apt, because that’s essentially what the female parts look like. But I suppose girls would object to it. I never used it in front of a girl.

  24. Alexis Levitin:

    I need some help for a short story I am writing about an embarrassing misunderstanding. Forty years ago I was hitch-hiking in rural Sicily and a very handsome young fellow stopped for me. But after a bit, he suddenly drove off the main road and onto a sandy by-way. I said where are you going? And he replied, with a smile, something that sounded like Scotchiatura. I tried looking it up in my pocket dictionary and found scorciatoia which was “short cut.” That made sense and I myself smiled in agreement until he stopped the car and pulled down his bathing suit, revealing that we had just had a linguistic misunderstanding. My question for you and your readers is simple this: what is the mystery word he used which clearly meant something like “fooling around, having a good time, etc.” and did not mean “short-cut.” I will be grateful for any enlightenment.

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