Italian word of the day: ‘Sussurrare’

Whisper it, but this could be one of the most beautiful words in the Italian language.

Italian word of the day: 'Sussurrare'
Photo: DepositPhotos

Italians are not exactly known for keeping their voices down.

But when they do, you might like to know that the Italian verb meaning ‘to whisper’ or ‘to murmur’ is the delightfully onomatopoeic sussurrare.

– Sussurralo

– Whisper it

It can also be used to talk about rumours and furtive gossip.

– si sussurra che..

– it’s rumoured that…

– gli sussurrò qualcosa all’orecchio

– he whispered something in his ear

Sussurro is the noun meaning “a whisper”

-Non più di un sussurro

– No more than a whisper

Otherwise, you can use the equally onomatopoeic verb bisbigliare (try repeating it out loud quickly).

– È sgarbato bisbigliare davanti a noi.

– t’s rude to whisper in front of us.

– Non serve bisbigliare

– There’s no need to whisper

With words this beautiful (and which are also fun to say) it’s worth finding ways to use them as often as possible in Italian – no matter how loud your family is.

Here are some more of our favourite words in Italian.

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

Member comments

  1. I love the “word of the day”. It is so fun to be able to use these words correctly and to keep a full phrase in your head to be used at the right moment. You might consider putting them in altogether in an ebook.

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Italian word of the day: ‘Tirocinio’

Let us offer you some (unpaid) experience with this Italian word.

Italian word of the day: 'Tirocinio'

If you’re entering the world of work in Italy, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll be offered a tirocinio (pronunciation available here). Should you accept?

That all depends on whether you think you’ll get enough benefit (and money – in the unlikely event there is any) out of an internship, which is what this slightly odd-sounding word means.

According to the Accademia della Crusca, Italy’s oldest linguistic academy and the guardians of the Italian language, it comes from the Latin word tirocinium, which has two components.

The first part of the word comes from tirone, the name for a recruit to the Roman military (tirare means – among others things – ‘to shoot’ in Italian).

The second, cinium, comes from canere, meaning ‘to sound’ (a horn) or ‘to play’ (music); a tubicinium was a horn or trumpet player.

Joined together, the two words meant something like ‘a rousing of the recruits’, in the sense of an initiation or learning experience. An intern is a tirocinante.

Tirocinio isn’t the only Italian word for internship: you’ll also hear people talk about a stage (pronounced the French way, like this, as it’s borrowed from French); an intern is a stagista.

That’s the title given to Alessandro, one of the main characters in the Italian comedy series Boris, who starts an internship on the set of the medical soap opera Eyes of the Heart 2 and is soon initiated into the bizarre and dysfunctional world of Roman TV production.

Ho dovuto lavorare presso la mia azienda per sei mesi come stagista prima che mi offrissero un lavoro.
I had to work at my company for six months as an intern before they offered me a job.

Domani inizierò il mio tirocinio – auguratemi buona fortuna!
I start my internship tomorrow – wish me luck!

If you do end up working as a tirocinante or stagista, hopefully it will be less surreal and better remunerated than that of Boris’s protagonist.

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.