italian swear words Watch Your Mouth! Three Words You Shouldn't Say in Italian

Some of my favorite-and most popular-posts are about the complex, intriguing, sometimes difficult, but always charming … bella lingua italiana. A couple of months ago, Jessica from Why Go Italy shared her favorite Italian words, a week later, I listed five of mine and Melanie from Italofile started a meme that lists favorite Italian words over on her site.

In the meme, Melanie asked us to refrain from parolacce, so I write this post in no official manner and with no affiliation with afore-mentioned Italofile meme.

But really. Everyone loves Italian swear words. In fact, my previous post on the subject is one of my most-visited pages and I often get searched by Italophiles looking to cuss.

So, my friends. Here you have them. Three more of my favorite Italian curse words. In no particular order … .

1. Minchia
The first time I went to Sicily my husband told me to listen up for the word “minchia” … and in fact, we heard it everywhere we went. Minchia, Sicilian dialect for dick, is usually either drawn out, as in “miiiiiiinkea,” or shorted, as in “meee,” and can be used to express shock, like, “wow, that sucks,” or “oh, shit!”

Possibly the funniest time I heard this word, we were walking down one of Palermo’s main streets and passed a mom and her-oh, I’d say seven year old-son. The mom pointed at something and the little boy, with his precious eyes and sweet little face responded, “Meeee … .”

2. Stronza
You might be familiar with the more widely used masculine version of the word, “stronzo,” meaning “asshole” or “bastard,” but, my friends, should you meet a girl you don’t like and feel the need to call her an ugly name, you could say … stronza!

I learned this word early on from my husband’s cute-as-pie cousin who was mad at a girl from her local gym. She ranted, told us the story and ended with … “Mah! E’ una stronza!”

I like it.

3. Che Palle
Che palle,” literally-”what balls-” is used when you want to say something is a pain in the ass. This term is so common down here in Calabria that I can’t even remember the first time I heard it. It is usually said with exasperation, as are many significant Italian words, and is followed with a myriad of hand gestures and sighs.

So … tell me. What are some of your favorite Italian swear words?

Traveling south? Click here to see how I can help you plan your trip to Calabria or southern Italy.

Photo: New Like Me

Nordstrom tightens its belt for the long haul. (Nordstrom Inc)

Footwear News September 6, 1993 | McAllister, Robert SEATTLE–Today’s retail environment has resulted in some serious dunkings for Nordstrom Inc., but while others have floundered and drowned, the retailer has always managed to kick its way back to the surface and stay afloat amid the turbulence.

The stalled economies in the retailer’s home state of Washington and in Southern California, which generates the largest portion of all Nordstrom’s sales, coupled with changing consumer attitudes have created some of the most dangerous waves for this well-respected specialty store operator. There is little doubt that Nordstrom, which consistently bucks the industry norm, is facing major challenges as it embarks on a second wave of growth in the South, Midwest and Northeast.

Unlike competitors, who became enmeshed in the vicious cycle of everyday sales and cut back on sales personnel, Nordstrom has continued to stage three regular sales annually and has maintained lofty selling costs due to an attractive employee incentive program. The Seattle-based retailer’s legendary stockpile of inventory, averaging anywhere from 65,000-100,000 pairs, and reliance on sales associates to sell the vast amounts of shoes also set it apart.

Though still in the black, Nordstrom executives acknowledge that markdowns and selling costs are hampering the specialty chain’s overall growth. At last May’s annual meeting, co-chairman Bruce Nordstrom said employee wages are one of Nordstrom’s biggest expenses. Sales associates in shoes can earn up to $50 hourly during sales and their annual salaries can average from $40,000 to $50,000. But, one analyst reported that Nordstrom has become more stringent with employees. A Southern California shoe buyer, a 12-year Nordstrom veteran, was recently let go for failing to make quotas.

Nordstrom is, in fact, tightening its belt. Like most retailers today, the 69-store chain is seeking to whittle down its selling, general and administrative expenses, which accounted for 26.4 percent of sales in ’92. Despite industry rumors to the contrary, Nordstrom executives maintained that the retailer’s decentralized buying operation will remain.

Meanwhile, the shoe division is still regarded by industry observes as stable and one of Nordstrom’s best run–if not the best run — divisions. While some vendors indicated the retailer may be overbought in some stores, the consensus is that the shoe departments are alive and well, but in an adjustment stage. “In Brass Plum, they had to correct themselves for the buying of platform and funky shoes,” said Harvey Kalikow, principal, Studio HD2, Newport Beach, Calif., referring to Nordstrom’s junior shoe department. “(Some of those items) didn’t gravitate to their main customer and they had to correct for it. But we had a great spring with them.” Kalikow noted that some Nordstrom stores have been shifting to more basic goods in the Brass Plum departments, often the testing ground for new vendors and fashion forward styles. Several vendors suggested the reason for the shift may be that Nordstrom’s shoe inventories have been accumulating at alarming rates. Still, others such as Joe Ouaknine, national sales manager for Charles David of California, Culver City, Calif., denied knowledge of any inventory pile-ups at Nordstrom. website nordstrom promotion code

Inventory problems do exist at Nordstrom, however. They are linked primarily to the ready-to-wear division where most of the retailer’s private-label product is featured, said a report by the Seattle-based securities house Ragen MacKenzie. The report said private label shoes continued to do well. Nordstrom, however, reported overall inventories for the year-to-year period ending April 30 rose 7.8 percent to $624 million, about twice the industry average.

“I think they looked at Clinton’s election and thought that (consumer confidence) would grow. When that didn’t really pan out, they ended up in an overbought situation,” said an executive for a West Coast shoe resource. In fact, many vendors said Nordstrom’s inventory situation became so alarming in the second quarter of this year that buyers called to cancel large early fall orders. go to site nordstrom promotion code

Industry analysts and Nordstrom executives disagreed with such comments. “Our inventories are not a problem and are particularly strong in shoes. They’re pretty much in line with last year,” Nordstrom co-president John Whitacre told FN. “We’re having a good year for shoes.” Added a senior Nordstrom shoe executive: “We always have a buyer that is little high, but corporately we’ve never had a major inventory problem. With 250 buyers, there’s going to be someone who’s anxious, especially with so many (vendor) promos going on. It’s easy to focus on one (vendor).” Many industry executives pointed out that Nordstrom’s extremely successful July anniversary sale rapidly corrected any build-up in inventory.

Last year, shoes accounted for 19 percent of Nordstrom’s total $3.42 billion sales pie, about a 7 percent jump over 1991 shoe sales. Industry analysts said margins in the shoe department should improve after a computerized Management Information System (MIS) and inventory control program is installed system-wide late next year. Although agreeing MIS should improve inventory levels in all areas, Jennifer Black Groves, an analyst with Black & Co., Portland, Ore. said that even without the addition the shoe division is among the best managed areas. “The shoe departments will probably be among the last to receive MIS because that is the department that is extremely well-run and profitable,” Groves said.

“Their (shoe buyers) are ordering light for fall,” Groves noted, “not because of heavy inventories but so they have the ability to add freshness to the stores when they want to.” Still, a Nordstrom shoe executive admitted that managing the stores’ inventory is far from easy. The retailer is well known for its massive vendor selections as well as for its famed customer service. During a recent sale in South Coast Plaza Nordstrom store in Costa Mesa, Calif., the three-story stock room for shoes featured no less than 90,000 pairs.

Multiple shoe sales are the norm at Nordstrom and the business this generates for key vendors is why so many companies constantly try to become part of the stores’ matrix. For example, Dexter Shoe Co., West Newton, Mass., sold 338,000 pair to Nordstrom last year. But, many vendors say their success does not come easily–dealing with Nordstrom can prove even more difficult than dealing with any of the other major retailers. A decentralized buying network and a reputation for driving some of the hardest bargains in the industry make it tough going for vendors. Exclaimed one athletic shoe executive: “They wanted $10,000 from us to be in their catalog.” Still, Kalikow of Studio HD2 holds a different view: “It is harder work, but more pleasing. You have to visit a lot of people, but it’s easier to have more opinions. They’ve given a small company like us great opportunities.” Nordstrom will have to rely on its toughness if it is to survive in California, particularly in Southern California where the retailer has about half of its total square footage. Sales per square foot, however, remain the highest among competitors who also inhabit the region’s major malls, reported First Boston Corp., New York. The California recession has prompted Nordstrom to halt expansion into the state, although one unit will open in Santa Anita next year. Future expansion will head eastward into areas such as Detroit, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Dallas and into cities in Illinois, New York and New Jersey.

To compensate for a sour market out West and a stronger volume market, Nordstrom is exploring new ventures. The retailer is planning to debut several mail order catalogs next year and will eventually move into interactive television shopping.

Also, the first Nordstrom Factory Direct (NFD) store opened near Philadelphia last month and sales were above plan. NFD, which has its own buyers and does not carry excess inventory like Rack stores, may be expanded at a more aggressive rate because it has such low overhead costs. A Moody’s corporate credit report indicated that Nordstrom is also considering expanding the Rack stores at a rate of one unit for every three Nordstrom store openings.

“If you add up all their strengths, they do many things well. They consistently analyze opportunities and ways to become better,” said Dan Allen, a group president at Intershoe, New York. “At this point you have to do all the fundamentals well and know when to bring in the items. I think they do a very good job at knowing what they want to represent to the customer.” Nordstrom’s Whitacre admitted it will be rough going in the years ahead, but is confident the retailer will continue to keep its head above water. Noted Whitacre: “I want to be able to look back (on) this time five years from now to see how we did. These are very difficult times. But we’re here for the long term not the short term.” McAllister, Robert

pixel Watch Your Mouth! Three Words You Shouldn't Say in Italian


  1. Ye-toh-sangwue.

    Neopolitian for ‘bleed to death’……..

    It’s what my mother said when I was a kid and she was really mad.

    Do you have any idea what the words would be in real Italian?

    Ha, that is new to me, but I’ll definitely ask my husband. Anyone else know?


    Ciro Reply:


    when i read this, i thought immediately of my nonna who passed away in july of 2006, she always use to say this. <3

    Ooop! :-) Funny.


  2. Ok…che ne dici di “Non me ne frega niente!” o più peggio “Non me ne frega un cazzo”!

    I hear the first on all the Italian soaps…so, I thought of course, it couldn’t be all that vulgar…but when I said it to a couple of Italian friends during the course of a conversation…wow! they all got very excited and said I shouldn’t ever say that to anyone! evidentimente va bene per gli italiani ma non è per gli stranieri!!! ;-)

    That is so funny! I remember asking my Italian teacher (in a class I took here in CZ) about that and she laughed so hard and told all of her friends. They use it like “who cares,” so it seems innocent enough … at first. ;-)
    Melissa Muldoon´s last blog post ..• il mondo piange


  3. Who doesn’t like to learn parolacce? We had quite an education during our first three months from our Roman friends. My fave is troia, used like stronza, though my friend Francesca softens it to troietta. My husband is partial to cazzo, and it cracks me up every time he says it (usually in DC traffic) because he never cusses in English!

    That is funny! It sounds “sweeter” in Italian, too … right? ;-)
    Valerie´s last blog post ..My Five List


  4. Cazzo?

    Do you mean like “Oh gotz” in Neopolitian?

    Ooooh, I’m not sure about “oh gotz,” – sounds similar to me, though! :-)


    Ciro Reply:


    i know what you mean, its spelled “u cazz” or “stu cazz”. its like when someone says something to you and you’re fed up or something and you just say it. my brother knows quite a bit of the napoletano dialect.

    Thanks for the ‘splanation, Ciro!


  5. Ahhh, the beauty of Italian curse words. I am pretty sure that stronzo literally translates into “turd” which is an appropriate way to describe an asshole anyway :)

    Yea, literally it is, but that is such a nasty word in English, too, eh?? I mean, not that “asshole,” isn’t, but you know what I mean … right? ;-)


  6. Or my most favorite rhyme:

    Dan la port e Maestro Cecc
    Sta la strunz nu zech a zech…
    Qui parle zo leeck

    And leeck is really lick in ‘broken’ English…….

    From my mother’s side of the family-my grandparents were from Castellemarre di Stabia…..

    (And this is the first time I’ve ever repeated it in public and tried to type it phonetically. I’m hoping you get the drift of it-it has a very sing song meter to it, flowing quite nicely off the tongue -which is probably why I’ve remembered it after all these years.

    Mom sprung it on the ’3 kids’ when we were babbling so much she couldn’t stand it another minute……she’d use it to quite us down for a minute or two. And we shut up faster than you can imagine…….

    Noooo, I don’t get it!!! I’ll have to ask P to spell it out for me.


  7. You might enjoy this entry from the Up Your Bottom! website about Che Puzza! (what a stink!)

    The Berlitz Publishing Hide This™ book series has an Italian language book including all the swear words, common slang and more (Check out Hide This Extreme too – widget on the blog)…!

    Cool, thanks for the FYI!
    Lisa Tucci´s last blog post ..Unlocking the Secret of Italian Olive Oil


  8. Maybe my favorite Italian word is zanzara–mosquito. It sounds exactly like a mosquito flying around your ear after you’ve turned out the light and are trying to go to sleep.

    Ha, yea the word is MUCH cuter than the bug!


  9. How about “non mi rompere i coglioni”?! One of my all time favorites even though I never actually get to use it :)

    I LOVE that one and am embarrassed to admit, use it all the time. The funny thing is when I’m really mad and talking fast, I fall over myself and say “non mi rompere il corleone!”


  10. ‘Che cazzo vuoi?’ is one that I use a lot. It means what the d*** are you doing?

    :-) Thanks for stopping by.


    Ciro Reply:

    @Aurora, I thought it meant “what the f**k do you want?” and che cazzo fai meant “what the f**k are you doing?”

    You are right Ciro. It does mean what *do* you want?!?


  11. My husbands grand father would say “conyo tu madre”when he would get really angry. His sweet little wife tried to explain it to me, she had very limited english, I think I get the idea.the funny thing is that my then 3 year old with speech problems picked it up the first time he heard it and pronounced it perfectly and at the correct time. We later taught him to say “corn“ in stead.


  12. The following is for the benefit of those who heard Italian expressions spoken in Sicilian dialect or in the speech common to southern Italy. Because of marked changes in consonants – for example, “v” becoming a “p” and “c” becoming a “g” and ending vowels literally tossed to the winds – a word that sounded like “Pafangool” was really “Va fan culo” (lit, “make it to go up the ass”). Likewise the word “citrullo” (blockhead, knucklehead, dumbhead) came out “shidrul” (or “shidrool”). And pasta fagiola morphed into “pastafazool”. And with “c’s” becoming “g’s”, “p’s becoming “b’s” and ending vowels dropped everywhere, the meat known as capicola became…(hold onto your memories) “GABANGUL”, as did “cazzo in culo” become “gatzingool”.


  13. my favorite word/expression would be — va fa Napoli – I guess could be translated as ma va fungulo?? or go F yourself?? I guess could mean a lot of things depending on the situation. chow fo now –


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