How to Talk About the Parts of the Body in Italian

Learn vocabulary & phrases for le parti del corpo

Feet dangling from dock
Feet dangling from dock. Ascent Xmedia / Getty Images

While chatting about body parts isn’t something that’s often a part of small talk, the necessity of knowing body part vocabulary pops at the most unexpected times. Besides the typical doctor situation, it comes up in many Italian proverbs, when describing physical characteristics of a person, and in famous children’s songs.

Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes

Below you’ll find an extensive list of body parts in the singular form along with examples to demonstrate the various ways to use your newfound vocabulary in real life.

ankle

la caviglia

arm

il braccio

armpit

l'ascella

artery

l'arteria

body

il corpo

bone

l'osso

brain

il cervello

calf

il polpaccio

chest

il torace

collarbone

la clavicola

elbow

il gomito

finger

il dito

foot

il piede

hand

la mano

heart

il cuore

heel

il calcagno

hip

l'anca

index finger

l'indice

knee

il ginocchio

larynx

la laringe

leg

la gamba

middle finger

il medio

muscle

il muscolo

nail

l'unghia

nerve

il nervo

pinkie

il mignolo

rib

la costola

ring finger

l'anulare

shoulder

la spalla

skin

la pelle

spine

la spina dorsale

stomach

lo stomaco

thumb

il pollice

vein

la vena

wrist

il polso

When you change some of the body parts from the singular into the plural form, they might seem strange at first because they don’t follow the regular rules of the ending of a feminine, plural word ending in the letter -e or a masculine, plural word ending in the letter -i.

Per esempio:

–  L’orecchio (ear) becomes le orecchie (ears)

– Il braccio (arm) becomes le braccia (arms)

– Il dito (finger) becomes le dita (fingers)

– Il ginocchio (knee) becomes le ginocchia (knees)

Esempi:

  • Mi fa male lo stomaco. - My stomach hurts.

  • Ho mal di testa. - I have a headache.

  • Ho la testa altrove. - My head is somewhere else; I’m not focused.

  • Siamo nelle tue mani. - We’re in your hands; We’re trusting you.

  • L’hai visto? Ha gli addominali a tartaruga! - Did you see him? He has six-pack abs!

  • Devo farmi le unghie. - I need to do my nails; I need to get a manicure.

  • Sei così rosso in viso! - You’re so red in the face!; You’re blushing.

  • Ho un ginocchio messo male. - I have a bad knee.

Finally, here are a few of my favorite proverbs with body parts:

Alzarsi con il piede sbagliato – To get up with the wrong foot; idiomatic meaning: to get up on the wrong side of the bed

  • Stamattina, mi sono svegliato/a con il piede sbagliato e finora ho avuto una giornataccia! - This morning I got up with the wrong foot and since then I’ve had such a bad day!

Non avere peli sulla lingua – To have no hairs on the tongue; idiomatic meaning: to speak frankly

  • Lui sempre dice cose sprezzanti, non ha davvero peli sulla lingua! - He always says rude things, he truly doesn’t have any hair on the tongue!

Essere una persona in gamba/essere in gamba – To be a person in leg; idiomatic meaning: to be a really great, upstanding person

  • Lei mi ha sempre aiutato, è veramente una persona in gamba. – She’s always helped me, she’s really a good person.