Family Ties –
Essential Italian Vocabulary

The family is a cornerstone and very important part of Italian life. Family needs or desires will usually take precedence over work or friends. Parents (especially mothers) are considered very important to Italians, and deserving of the utmost respect.

This isn't to say that fights don't occur. They happen, and when they do they can be explosive. But they almost always end up strengthening the family unit in the end.

Because family ties are so strong and their meaning in an Italian person's life so important, the introduction of a friend into the family signifies that the introducer considers the friend to be a very close and significant person.

In this guide, you will find the basic words and phrases that deal with family relationships.

Family Ties
Phrase in Italian Phrase in English Pronunciation
Madre Mother Mah-dreh
Padre Father Pah-dreh
Sorella Sister Soh-rehl-lah
Fratello Brother Frah-tehl-loh
Figlio Son Fee-lee-oh
Figlia Daughter Fee-lee-ah
Nonna Grandmother Nohn-nah
Nonno Grandfather Nohn-noh
Famiglia Family Fah-mee-lee-ah
Amico/Amica Friend Ah-mee-koh/Ah-mee-kah
Cugino/Cugina Cousin Koo-jee-noh/Koo-jee-nah
Zio/Zia Uncle/Aunt Zee-oh/Zee-ah
Marito Husband Mah-ree-toh
Moglie Wife Moh-lee-eh
Patrigno Step-father Pah-tree-nee-oh
Matrigna Step-mother Mah-tree-nee-ah
Nipote Grandson/Granddaughter Nee-poh-teh
Ragazzo/Fidanzato Boyfriend Rah-gah-tsoh/Fee-dahn-zah-toh
Ragazza/Fidanzata Girlfriend Rah-gah-tsah/Fee-dahn-zah-tah
Padrino Godfather Pah-dree-noh
Madrina Godmother Mah-dree-nah
Conoscente Acquaintance koh-noh-shehn-teh
Cena di famiglia Family dinner Che-nah dee fah-mee-lee-ah
Bisnonna Great-grandmother Bees-nohn-nah
Bisnonno Great-grandfather Bees-nohn-noh
Casalinga Housewife Cah-sah-leen-gah
Vedova Widow Veh-doh-vah
Vedovo Widower Veh-doh-voh
Genitori Parents Jeh-nee-toh-ree
Parenti Relatives Pah-rehn-tee

Slang/Commonly Used Expressions:

  Expression in Italian Expression in English Pronunciation
Mamma/Mammina Mommy/Mommy dearest Mahm-mah/Mahm-mee-nah
Papà/Babbo Daddy Pah-pàh/Bah-boh
Mamma mia! Oh my! (not pertaining necessarily to a mother) Mahm-mah mee-ah!
Festa della mamma Mother's day Feh-stah dehl-lah mahm-mah
Festa del papà Father's day Feh-stah dehl pah-pàh

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