How To Name And Describe Body Parts In Italian

avatarMille Larsen
3 mins read

We're coving the 10 most important things to know to get by in Italian. First, we looked at Italian greetings, at the common courtesies, and asking questions. Last week, we looked at things you will need, numbers, and directions. And this week we started with some basic Italian verbs and descriptive words. Today we'll look at some body parts. Er, wait... that didn't sound right. We're going to look at some words to describe body parts.

Body parts

Okay, so this is the 10 things you need to know, in order to get by in any [the Italian] language, so maybe you're wondering why you need to know body parts. The best reason, of course, is that if you are hurt and need to ask for help or see a doctor, you'll need to know how to describe what's hurting and/or understand his questions for you. But I think you might also find it useful in a market, for instance, where you might want to ask "how much is that one in your hand?", or to tell a clothier that "the shirt is too short for my arms."

  • testa - head
  • occhio - eye
  • orecchio - ear
  • bocca - mouth
  • dente - tooth
  • collo - neck
  • petto - chest
  • curoe - heart
  • pancia - belly, stomach
  • schiena - back
  • braccio - arm
  • mano - hand
  • dito - finger
  • gamba - leg
  • piede - foot
  • dito (del piede) - toe

And a few useful words for when you're in need:

  • ho mal di ... - I have ... pain, or I have a ... ache
  • mi fa male ... - my ... hurts
  • ho ferito ... - I hurt my ...
  • sto male - I'm sick


So if you find yourself standing in a pharmacy trying to figure out where to find aspirin, you can say, Ho mal della testa. Cosa devo prendere?, or what should I take for a headache?

If you see a shopkeep holding what looks like the perfect souvenir for someone back home, you can say Scusi, quanto costa questo, nella sua mano?, meaning "excuse me, how much is that one in your hand?" (Note here that mano is a feminine noun in spite of its masculine -o ending.)

And if you're getting fitted for a fine Italian suit and you feel like the sleeves are too short, you can say, penso che questo e un po' corto nelle mie braccie, or "I think this is a bit short on my arms."

Interestingly, stomaco means stomach, but it's probably safer to learn pancia, because I found that mal di stomaco is an idiom meaning a gripe. While it's nice to think that most reasonable people would probably recognize that you're foreign and understand that you mean a stomach ache, it seems wise to avoid approaching a shopkeep and saying something that could sound like I have a complaint. Especially if you're American!