Italy has given a lot of different things to global culture. The food, the art, the music, and the history of Italy are all well known (famous) around the world. People love to eat at their favorite Italian restaurant on the weekends. Italian painters are some of the most famous in the world. And the Romans gave us many inventions (creations, new designs)! Since this is the case (true), it makes sense that Italian loan words are common in English.

Here at Bespeaking, we love loan words and we really love Italy! We’re happy to focus on one of our most beloved (favorite) languages this week. This week, let’s check out (look at) some common Italian loan words. And if you want to learn Italian, we can help! Meet (get to know) our Italian teachers here. Then you can start to learn these Italian loan words in the original language.

Are you ready to start learning which English words come from Italian? Then read on (keep reading)!


From the Italian “concerto.”

Do you like going to concerts in your free time? A concert is a performance of live music. This can be for any kind (sort, type, genre) of music. It could be a classical concert or your favorite rock band. Going to a concert to see your favorite musicians (people who play music) play is a great way to spend your time. A concert can be a very exciting night out!

For example:

  • I went to a concert from my favorite band last year. I had been waiting to see them in person for years!
  • Her daughter is going to play the clarinet in a concert at her school on Thursday night. Would you like to come with us?


From the Italian “cartone.”

When I was a kid, I always liked to look for the cartoons in the newspaper. I wasn’t interested in (didn’t care for) the news. I just (only) wanted to look at the pictures. A cartoon is a drawing or animation (drawing that moves), which is usually funny. Cartoons can be in the newspaper or on TV. There’s a whole cartoon section (part, place) in the newspaper. Nowadays (now, today in my life), I still like to watch cartoons in the evening. I think watching a funny cartoon is a good way to unwind (relax, take a break)!

For example:

  • Did you know they make cartoons for adults? One of my favorites is Bob’s Burgers. I think it’s really funny!
  • His kids loved to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. It was a family activity, and they all watched together.


From the Italian “novella.”

Reading is one of my favorite hobbies (something you do in your spare/free time). I like reading all the different stories that people imagine (think of, come up with). Usually, I read lots of novels. Novels are books with a story that is made up (created, isn’t true). Some people prefer to read books about things that actually happened. However, I think novels are very interesting and fun. We have the Italians to thank for this great loan word!

For example:

  • I would like a book for my birthday. But please don’t buy me a novel. I like true stories, instead.
  • He liked to read novels in his spare time. He preferred to read stories that the author made up, rather than (instead of) true stories.

Al fresco

From the same.

This is a great Italian loan word to know in the summer. In the summer, many people eat al fresco. If you eat al fresco, it means that you eat outside. Here in Germany, many people grill in the park and eat al fresco when it’s warm outside. Do you like to eat inside or would you prefer to eat al fresco?

For example:

  • The weather is going to be very warm on Saturday. Let’s pack some food, go to the park, and eat al fresco!
  • There are too many bees around for us to eat al fresco today. Could we please have a seat inside?


From the Italian “ombrello.”

Do you use an umbrella when it’s raining outside? Then you have the Italians to thank for this great word! An umbrella is a piece of cloth (fabric, material) that is stretched (pulled tight) over metal. You can use an umbrella to keep rain off of you. I don’t mind using umbrellas when it’s rainy, but I always forget my umbrella at home!

For example:

  • Because it was raining outside, there were many wet umbrellas at the entrance (front door) of the restaurant. The people had to leave their wet umbrella at the door so they didn’t carry it through the restaurant.
  • Do we have an umbrella somewhere? It’s supposed to rain today, and I don’t want to get wet!


From the Italian “Moneta.”

Money is a word we use every day. But did you know that it’s actually an Italian loan word? Money is paper that we use to pay for things. These can be things that we need (have to have) or want (is nice to have). When you work a job, you are paid in money. Money is a very useful (good, necessary) thing to have, since we can’t buy anything without it!

For example:

  • She doesn’t have much money at the moment. She wants to go on a vacation, but she can’t pay for it. She’s going to stay home for her vacation this year, and have a nice “staycation!”
  • I have enough money to pay for dinner tonight. It’s my treat (I’ll pay)!

Which of these Italian loan words do you use? Do you know any others? Share them with us in the comments below!

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Check out these other popular blogs: Internet Vocabulary You Should KnowBar Vocabulary in English5 Podcasts to Listen to If You Want to Improve Your English, or this Pregnancy Vocabulary in English!

Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and is going to curl up on the couch with a good novel tonight.

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