Italian expression of the day: ‘Tizio, Caio e Sempronio’

Jessica Lionnel
Jessica Lionnel - [email protected]
Italian expression of the day: ‘Tizio, Caio e Sempronio’
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Here's a saying that anyone should know.


Tizio, Caio e Sempronio. Three hypothetical people, three names and one perfect expression in Italian.

Meaning the same as ‘Tom, Dick and Harry’ in English or ‘Pierre, Paul ou Jacques’ in French, it indicates any generic group of people.

This phrase supposedly dates back to the Middle Ages; more specifically to Bologna and jurist Irnerio, who wrote ‘Titius et Gaius et Sempronius’ back when these were everyday names.

Obviously, the main language of the country is no longer Latin, and the Italian versions are hardly the most typical names around today, so let’s break down how to say them:

  • Tizio (Ti-Z-io)
  • Caio (C-A-io)
  • Sempronio (Sempr-O-nio; make sure the ‘o’ is short).

As you can see in the examples below, the phrase is used in exactly the same way as the English equivalent:

Ogni Tizio, Caio e Sempronio dovrebbe conoscere le parole della canzone Mamma Mia.

Every Tom, dick and Harry should know the lyrics to the song Mamma Mia.

Non mi piace pubblicare foto delle vacanze su Instagram; non voglio che Tizio, Caio e Sempronio lo sappiano.

I don’t like publishing photos of my holiday on Instagram; I don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harry knowing.


You can also use Tizio alone to mean any one generic person rather than a group of generic people. It usually means ‘guy’. You cannot do the same with Caio or Sempronio.

Il Tizio laggiù sta fumando.

The guy over there is smoking.

Next time you want to talk about just anyone in Italian, you'll know exactly what to say.

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