Male Anatomy & the Italian F-word

Male Anatomy & the Italian F-word

We start things off with the most popular and most-used Italian swear word: cazzo. Cazzo [CAHT-zoh] is a word that you will want to become familiar with because of its many uses in expressing oneself. The literal meaning of the word is penis, but it is often used as a general purpose expletive, like the English fuck. Let’s take a look at the many uses of cazzo:

Che cazzo fai!?
What the fuck are you doing!?

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Che cazzo vuoi?
What the fuck do you want?


Testa di cazzo

Non me ne frega un cazzo.
I don’t give a fuck.

Fatti cazzi tuoi.
Mind your own fucking business.
(lit. Do your own dicks)

Stare sul cazzo
To annoy or bother
(lit. to be on one’s dick)

Pissed off or angry

So cazzo is used as an all-purpose swear word, even though it literally means penis. If you want to tone down the vulgarity while in polite company, replace cazzo with cavolo and cazzi with cavoli. Cavolo [CAH-voh-loh] literally means cabbage, and it is used like heck or darn. Of course, Italian, expressive language that it is, has many other words for that part of the male anatomy. Minchia [MINK-ee-ah] is a Sicilian slang term for penis or cock, but it is widely known and used throughout Italy. It is often used as an expression indicating surprise: Minchia! Pirla [PEER-lah] is a word from the Milanese dialect that means penis, dick, or dickhead.

Italian also has a number of words for another part of the male anatomy. Palle [PAHL-leh] means balls or testicles, and it has a number of uses:

Che palle!
What a pain in the ass! or What a drag!
(lit. What balls!)

Non mi rompere le palle.
Don’t bust/break my balls.

Someone who busts/breaks your balls, pain in the ass

Stare tra le palle
To be a pain in the ass
(lit. To stay between the balls)

Another common word meaning testicles is coglioni [cohl-YOH-nee], which is plural for coglione [cohl-YOH-neh]. The word comes from the same Latin root as the Spanish cojones.

Avere i coglioni
To have the balls (to do something)

Fuori dai coglioni
Get off my balls or Don’t bother me

Non mi rompere i coglioni.
Don’t bust/break my balls.

Coglione can also be used when in reference to a person, in which case it means that the person is an idiot, fool, or stupid. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi famously referred to people who did not vote for him as coglioni.

Che coglione!
What an idiot!

Essere un coglione
To be an idiot/fool

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