Italian Language Blog

Naughty Italian Expressions! Posted by on Apr 18, 2016 in Culture

From past experience I’ve learned that our blogs are occasionally read by people of a particularly sensitive disposition regarding the use of ‘rude’ words, and swearing.

Hence if you, dear reader, are of such a disposition … I suggest that you stop right HERE.

… and the rest of you can read on, buon divertimento!

We were recently asked about an expression that we used in our article Buying Clothes in Italy: “avere culo”. Well, it’s unlikely that you’ll come across this in your grammar books or Italian classes. But don’t worry, it will be my very great pleasure to help you out with this and other such expressions!


Here is a list of some very common Italian expressions that make reference to certain unmentionable parts of the human anatomy:

avere culo = to be lucky, (literally: to have bum/arse) e.g.: ho avuto culo ad ottenere questo biglietto per il concerto = I was lucky to get hold of this ticket for the concert

che culo! = what luck! e.g. (literally: what bum/arse) e.g.: ecco un posto per la macchina, che culo! = here’s a parking place for the car, what luck!

avere sfiga = to be unlucky (literally: to be without cunt, i.e. without a woman) e.g.: Giorgio ha avuto la sfiga di comprare una macchina difettosa = Giorgio was had the bad luck of buying a faulty car

che sfiga! = what bad luck! (literally: what lack of cunt!) è caduto all’ultimo momento, che sfiga! = he fell at the last moment, what bad luck!

essere sfigato = to be unlucky, e.g.: quel Paolo è uno sfigato = that Paolo is an unlucky one

che palle! = how boring! (literally: what balls!) e.g.: ma che palle, sta piovendo di nuovo = oh what a bore, it’s raining again

far girare le palle = to annoy/to piss off (literally: to make the balls/testicles spin) e.g.: piantala di lamentarti, mi stai facendo girare le palle! = stop moaning, you’re annoying me! (literally: making my balls spin)

mi girano le palle! = I am/I get annoyed/pissed off! (literally: my balls are spinning) e.g.: quando sento i politici mi girano le palle! = when I hear politicians I get pissed off!

stare sulle palle a qualcuno = to get on someone’s nerves (literally: to be on someone’s balls) e.g.: basta chiacchiere, mi stai sulle palle! = enough chattering, you’re getting on my nerves!

Okay, you’ve been very brave so far, so I think you deserve a small musical interlude. Here’s the great Gigi Proietti with a lovely romantic song entitled ‘Non Mi Rompe Er Ca’

rompere il cazzo/le palle/i coglioni a qualcuno, in Roman dialect: ‘rompere er ca‘= to really piss someone off (literally: to break someone’s prick/balls) e.g. la Giulia mi ha rotto il cazzo con il suo solito discorso palloso = Giulia really pissed me off with her usual boring discussion
una rottura di palle/cazzo = a bloody annoying thing (literally: a breaking of balls/prick) e.g.: oggi non funziona di nuovo l’internet, ma che rottura di palle! = the internet isn’t working again today, how bloody annoying!

incazzarsi = to get pissed off, e.g.: Bruno è un tipo che si incazza facilmente = Bruno is a type who gets pissed off easily

Now, my dear intrepid readers and student of ‘genuine’ Italian, seeing as this is a rather naughty blog, and only the most hardy of students will have read this far, let’s finish with a naughty little anecdote from Serena. This is based on the usually innocuous expression, dormire tra due guanciali = to sleep easy (literally: to sleep between two pillows).

Quando ero all’università c’era una ragazza che aveva due seni veramente, ma veramente grandi. Un giorno mentre eravamo in biblioteca è entrata questa ragazza ‘superdotata’ e ho sentito il ragazzo seduto vicino a me dire con un sospiro: “Questo sì che vuol dire dormire fra due guanciali!”

When I was at university there was a girl who had really really big breasts. One day when we were in the library this ‘super-endowed’ girl came in, and I heard the lad sitting near me say with a sigh: “Now, that’s the real meaning of to sleep between two pillows!”

Don’t forget to practice your newly acquired expressions on your next visit to Il Bel Paese. For example you could try: Mamma mia, ‘sto cazzo di coda per visitare il Davide di Michelangelo mi ha rotto i coglioni!

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  1. russ messing:

    allora, questo era una leccione utile e fantastica! Grazie mille!

  2. Sue:

    Always excellent articles, but…..I am certain you cannot realise……use of the “c word” is considered by most people completely unacceptable. It is THE worst word anyone can use, far far worse than the f word. And for the record, I am not easily offended by bad language, but this four letter word is the foulest.

    • Geoff:

      @Sue Ciao Sue, so your curiosity got the better of you eh? 😉

      However, you are correct, in the UK and the US the ‘c’ word is very offensive, but this is a blog about Italian language and culture, and it’s very important to understand this cultural difference: figa/sfiga, cazzo, coglioni, (parolacce) and so on are far more widely used by all classes of people here in Italy without causing offence. The most offensive words for us are le bestemmie (religious swearing):

      Grazie comunque per il tuo commento, saluti da Geoff 🙂

  3. Capt F:

    Get over yourself, Sue. You were warned.

  4. Heather Sinclair:

    Just wondering….with the expressions referring to one’s “balls” would a woman use such an expression,(with a good friend and in an informal situation,of course)?

    • Geoff:

      @Heather Sinclair Ciao Heather, yes, it’s perfectly normal for a woman to say “smettila di far girare le palle!”, “che rottura di palle!”, “basta rompere le palle!” and so on.

      So go ahead, feel free … 😉

  5. marie-louise gerla:

    Bravo Geoff! Un articolo divertente e utile!
    Ma dai, l’uso non è obligatorio e addiritura pericoloso se non se parla italiana benissimo! I romanzi contemporanei, i film, serie sul TV etc. contengono tante esspressione della strada che sia quasi impossible capirle senza la conoscenza delle parolaccie.

    • Geoff:

      @marie-louise gerla Infatti!

      Grazie per il tuo commento Marie-Louise (che bel nome!).

      A presto, Geoff 🙂

  6. Ryan Fontanesi:

    To continue the “c” word topic, from what I’ve understood while it may be offensive in the both the US and UK it’s more acceptable in the UK. I’ve seen British movies where they’re throwing them out left and right while Americans that have no problem using F bombs liberally feel uncomfortable with the “c” word. I assumed your comparison of figa/sfiga to the “c” word is closer to the British treatment of the word. Is that right?

    • Geoff:

      @Ryan Fontanesi Well, closer, maybe. But the ‘c’ word in the UK is still more offensive than figa/sfiga.
      I think it’s time that I attempt an article about the difference between parolacce, and bestemmie, and how they correspond to swearing in English/US culture.
      I might need some help from Italo-Americani because I grew up in the UK, and although I work for an American company, I’ve never lived in the US.

      Grazie per il tuo commento Ryan, a presto, Geoff 🙂

  7. M.SES:

    Im laughing my ass off
    I never thought theses kinds of naughty talks could be so close to eachother even in different cultures 😂😂 like we(iranians”in persian”) literally have the same expression for “avere culo” and it means exactly what it means in italian :))

    • Geoff:

      @M.SES Grazie per il tuo commento! 🙂

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