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Italian word of the day: ‘Simpaticone’

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
Italian word of the day: ‘Simpaticone’
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Learning this word will be a good laugh.


Do you know someone who’s just extremely likeable and fun to be around, and whose company alone never fails to put you in a good mood?

Then you most likely know a simpaticone: the Italian equivalent of a real ‘hoot’, ‘charmer’ or ‘nice guy’.

As you may have already guessed, simpaticone (pronounce it asˈ, with the accent falling on the ‘o’) comes from the union of simpatico – the standard Italian adjective for ‘friendly’ – and the augmentative suffix -one, which is also found in nouns like furbone (a sly person), mammone (a mummy’s boy) and nasone (a big nose). 

It is mostly used in informal conversations and in reference to someone that the speaker knows very well. 

Può essere un pò schivo all’inizio, ma in realtà è un vero e proprio simpaticone quando lo cominci a conoscere bene.

He can be a bit timid and quiet at first, but he’s a real hoot when you get to know him well.

Cosa ne pensi di Mario?

E’ un simpaticone e buono come il pane. 

What do you think of Mario?

He’s a really nice guy and very kind-hearted.

Remember: (un) simpaticone is only the male singular form of the noun, which means you’ll have to use (una) simpaticona when referring to a woman (simpaticoni and simpaticone are male and feminine plural respectively).


As with most Italian adjectives, simpaticone can (and is often) used in a sarcastic way to mean the exact opposite of what it actually means.

For instance, you can use che simpaticone! to reply to a joke or comment you find particularly unfunny or low-grade.

Non ti farebbe male mangiare una insalata ogni tanto eh.

Ma che simpaticone che sei! Grazie mille…

It wouldn't hurt you to eat a salad every now and then, huh?

Oh, what a charmer you are! Thanks a lot…

For another example on how you can use simpaticone in an ironic way, you can also look up this (slightly cringeworthy) video of Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini using it against one of his detractors during an Instagram live.

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