American Italian: Dictionary

April 14, 2009 - 401 Responses

American Italian: Dictionary

aduzipach!/aduzipazz! – you’re crazy! (ma tu sei pazzo!) [aa-DOO-zee-PAACH]/[aa-DOO-zee-PAATS]

afanabola!/vafanabola!/a fa napule! – go to hell! (a fa Napoli!) [aa-faa-NAA-boe-laa]

agita – heartburn/indigestion (aciditá) [AA-jih-tuh]

ammonini! – let’s go! (andiamo!) [aa-moe-NEE-nee]

andosh!/andosc’ – let’s go! (andiamo) [aan-DOESH]

aunda/awunda? – where? (awundi?) [aa-WOON-duh]

aunda ciunca/awunda chunka? – where does it hurt? (awundi ciunca?) [aa-WOON-duh CHOON-kuh?]

assai – a lot (molto) [aah-SYE]

bacous’/bacouz – bathroom (backhouse) [buh-KOWZ]

basanagol/basanicol’ – basil (basilico) [baa-zaa-naa-GOAL]

bash/basc’ – down/downstairs (bascia) [baash]

bada bing! – bam!; Note: Popularized in the 1970s by The Godfather character Santino Corleone

biangolin’ – bleach (bianco lino) [byaan-GO-leen]

bicciuridu – my little boy/my little baby (piccolo bambino) [BEECH-oo-REE-doo]

bisgott’ – cookie (biscotti) [beesh-GAWT]

boombots – nickname for an idiot (u’ pazzo); Note: As in “Vinnie Boombots” [boom-BAATS]

boxugeddu – box (box per oggetti) [baax-oo-JED-oo]

braggiol’ – meat and sauce/male anatomy (bracciole) [BRAAJH-oel]

brosciutt’/prosciutt’ – italian ham (prosciutto) [BRAAJH-oot]/[PRAAJH-oot]

buttagots/butta’ gazz’ – annoying idiot (buttana u’ cazzo) [boo-taa-GAATS]

buttann’/puttann’ – b_tch/whore (putanna); Note: more mild than “sciaquadell” [boo-TAAN]

calabres’ – Calabrian (calabrese); Note: can refer to people, objects, customs, etc. [caal-uh-BRAYZ]

calamad – fried squid (calamari) [caal-uh-MAAD]

capidan/capitan’ – captain (capitano/capitan) [caap-ee-DAAN]

cazzo – balls (cazzo) [KAA-tso]

cendann’/cent’ ann’ – a hundred years (cento anni); Note: said before a toast [chen-DAAN]

che cozz’? – what the f— are you doing? (che cazzo fai?) [KAY-kaatz]

chefai? – what are you doing? (che cosa fai?) [ke-FYE]

chepreca! – what a shame! (che peccato!) [kay-preh-KAA]

chiove – raining (fa piove) [KYOH-vay]

chiove tropp’assai – it’s raining very hard (fa piove molto) [KYOH-vay-TROAP-aa-SAI]

chooch – jackass (ciuccio) [CHOOCH]

chunka – injured (ciuncare) [CHOON-kuh]

cing-u-bezz/cing’ u’ bezz’ – five dollars apiece (cinque un pezzo) [cheeng-oo-BETZ]

ciuri – flowers (fiori) [CHOO-ree]

colghioni/cogliones/gulgliones – male anatomy (colghioni) [coal-YOANZ]/[gool-YOANZ]

cornuto – husband whose wife is unfaithful (cornuto) [coar-NOO-toe]

cuore stuppau – heart stopped (cuore stopped) [KWOAW-ray-staa-POW]

ddojefacc/duyavatch – two faced (due facce) [doo-ya-FAATCH]

disgraziat’ – dirtball (disgraziato) [dees-graats-ee-AAT]

dzapp’ – gardening hoe (zappa) [DZAAP]

edi-conosc’? – do you know me?/do you know who I am? (e mi conosci?) [EE-dee-GAA-noesh]

facciabrutt’ – ugly face (faccia brutta) [FA-chuh-broot]

faccia di katzo – ball face (faccia di cazzo) [FAA-chaa-dee-KAA-tsoe]

facciadu/faccia du’ – two faced (facce due) [faatch-aa-DOO]

facciu fridda – it’s cold (fa freddo) [FAA-choo-FREE-daa]

fugeddaboudit – forget about it (forget about it)

fanabola!/vanabola! – shit! (a fa Napoli) [faa-NAA-boe-laa]

fatti gatti due!/vatoli vatoli due! – mind your own f—ing business! (fa ti cazzi tuoi) [FAA-tee-GAA-tee-doo-yay]

fattu napiridu – I farted [FAA-too-naa-pee-REE-doo] (ho fatto napiridu)

‘ffangul’! – go f— yourself! (vai a fare in culo) – [faan-GOOL]

fraggiol’ – beans (fraggiole) [FRAA-joal]

fratu – brother (fratello) [FRAA-too]

frittat’/fritad – fried egg dish (frittata) [frə-TAAD]

fugazi – fake (falso OR fake)

fuidi dogu! – get down from there! [FWEE-dee-DOW-goo]

gab’ – head (capo) [GAAB]

gabbadost’/gab’ a’ tost’ – hardhead (capa dura/capa tosta)

gabbagul/gabbagool – type of meat/food/idiot/fool (capicola/capocollo/capacolla) [gaa-baa-GOOL]

gabbaruss’/gab’ a’ russ’ – redhead (capo rosso) [gaa-baa-ROOS]

gabbadeegats/capa di cazz’ – ball face (capo di cazzo) [gaa-baa-dee-GATS]

gabish?/capish?/gabisc’? – (do you) understand? (capisci?) [gaa-PEESH]

gaguzz’ – muscles/idiot/money/squash (cucuzza) [gaa-GOOTS]

gaguzzalonga – big muscles (cucuzza lunga) [ga-GOOTS-aa-LOWN-gaa]

gambarell’/gambanell’ – (door)bell (campanello) [GAMBA-rell]

gandin’ – basement (cantina) [gaan-DEEN]

ganol’ – cannoli [gaa-NOAWL]

gavadeel’ – italian pasta (cavatelli) [gaa-vaa-DEEL]

gavone – gluttonous eater (cafone) [gaa-VOAN]

gettuzang/gett’ u’ sang’ – work hard/bleed (gettare il sangue) [get-oo-ZAANG]

ghiacchieron’ – blabbermouth (chiacchierone) [gyaa-kyaa-ROAN]

ghistu/chistu – this (questo) [GEE-stoo]

giambott’ – Italian stew (giambotta) [jaam-BAUWT]

giamoke/giamocc’/jamoke – idiot (giamope) [jaam-OAK]

gibude – onion (cipolla) [jaa-BOOD]

gomesegiam’?/comesegiam’?/gome se chiam’ – how do you say?/whatchamacallit? (come si chiama?) [go-maa-say-GYAM]

goopalin’ – snow hat (goobalini) [goo-paa-LEEN]

goombah – countryman/fellow comrade/godfather (compare) [goom-BAA]

gopp’ – up/top (coppa/capo) [gaap]

guacarunno – someone (qualcuno) [gwaa-kaa-ROO-no]

gul’/cul’ – ass (culo) [GOOL]

gumad – mistress/girlfriend (cumare/comare) [goo-MAAD]

guppin’ – ladle (coppino) [goo-PEEN]

guyasabbu? – who knows? (chissa?) [goo-yaa-ZAA-boo]

gidrul’ – stupid person (cetriolo) [jih-DROOL]

haicapid – do you understand? (hai capito) [eye-kaa-PEED]

how ya doin’? – how’s it going? (how are you doing?)

‘iamo – let’s go! (andiamo) [YAA-moe]

idu – he (lui) [EE-doo]

i-malano-miau! – I can’t believe it! (che malanova mi hai) [EE-maa-laa-no-mee-auw]

issu – she (lei) [EE-soo]

lascialui! – leave him alone! (lascilo!) [laa-shaa-LOO-ee]

lasordida!/asodida! – your sister!/your sister’s a _____! (la sorella!/tua sorella (è una putana)!) [laa-SA-dih-daa]

la vesa gazi – swear word [laa-VAY-zaa-gaa-ZEE]

ma che cozz’u fai?! – what the heck are you doing?! (ma che cozzo fai?!) [maa-KAY-kauwtz-oo-fai]

ma che bell’! – why, how beautiful! (ma che bella) [maa-KAY-bell]

ma che quest’? – what is this? (ma che cosa è questo?) [maa-KAY-quest]

maddiul’/mariul’ – fool/rascal (mariolo) [maa-dee-OOL]

maliocch’ – the evil eye (malocchio) [maal-YOAK]

mamaluke – idiot/fool (mamalucco) [maa-maa-LOUK]

mannaggia – damn/cursing (male ne aggia/male ne abbia) [MAA-NAA-juh]

mannaggia dial – curse the devil (male ne aggia il diavolo) [MAA-NAA-juh-dee-owl]

mannaggia la mort’ – cursing death (male ne aggia la morta) [MAA-NAA-juh-dee-owl]

mannaggia la miseria – cursing misery (male ne aggia la miseria) [MAA-NAA-juh-MEE-seh-ree-uh]

manigott’ – italian pasta (manicotti) [maa-NEE-gauwt]

mapeen/mopeen/mappin’ – napkin/towel (moppina) [maa-PEEN]

maranad – marinara sauce (marinara) [maa-raa-NAAD]

maron’! – damnit (madonna) [maa-ROAN]

maronna mia! – oh my God! (madonna mia!) [maa-ROAWN-aa-MEE-uh]

menzamenz – half and half (mezza mezza) [mehnz-AA-mehnz]

mezzamort’ – half-dead (mezzo morto) [METZA-moart]

minch’ – wow! (minchia) [meenk]

mortadell’ – Italian sausage/loser (mortadella) [moart-aa-DELL]

mortadafam’ – really hungy/starving (morta da fame) [moart-aa-daa-faam]

muccatori – tissue (fazzoletto) [moo-kaa-TOE-ree]

mudanz – pajamas [moo-DAANZ]

murudda – without a brain [moo-ROO-daa]

musciad – mushy (musciata/ammosciato) [moo-SHYAAD]

moosh-miauw – very mushy (musciata miau) [moosh-meow]

muzzarell’/muzzadell’ – Italian cheese (mozzarella) [mootz-aa-DELL]

medigan’ – non-Italian american/Italian who has lost his roots (americano) [meh-dee-GAAN]

napoleedan/napuletan’ – Neapolitan (napolitano) [naa-paa-lee-DAAN]

numu fai shcumbari! – don’t embarass me!/stop embarrasing me! (non fai scumbari) [NOO-moo fai shkoom-baa-REE]

oobatz’/patz’ – crazy person (un pazzo/u’ pazzu) [oo-BAATZ]

paesan’ – fellow Italian countryman (paesano) [pai-ZAAN]

panzagin’! – I’m full! [paan-zaa-GEEN]

pasta vasul’ – Italian soup (pasta fagioli) [pasta-faa-ZOOL]

pastin’ – small, star-shaped pasta (pastina) [paa-STEEN]

pizzagain’ – Italian meat pie (pizzagaina) [pizza-GAIN]

pizzolino – afternoon nap (pisolino) [peetz-o-LEE-no]

provalon’ – type of cheese (provalone) [pro-və-LOAN]

pucchiach’/bucchiach’ – b–ch (pucchiacha) [poo-KYAAK]

rigott’ – Italian cheese (ricotta) [ree-GAUWT]

salud’/salut’ – be in good health (salute) [zaa-LOOD]

shape-la-tass’ – shape of a cup (shape of la tazza) [shape-aa-laa-taatz]

scharol’/scarol – escarole/money (scarola) [shkaa-ROAL]

schif’/shkeeve – to be disgusted by something (schifo) [shkeef]

schifozz’ – disgusting thing (schifosa) [shkee-VOATZ]

scorchamend’/scocciament’ – a pain in the ass (scocciamento) [scorch-aa-MEND]

scooch – pest/move over [SKOOCH]

scoochi-di-bandanz – a real pain [scooch-ee-dee-baan-DANZ]

scustumad’ – stupid person (scostumato) [skoo-stoo-MAAD]

sciumara – river (fiumara) [shoo-MAA-raa]

scoba – broom (scopa) [SKO-baa]

scobendo – to sweep the floor (scopare) [sko-BEN-doe]

scubata/scupata – get laid (scopato) [SKOO-baa-taa]

sculabast’ – pasta strainer (scola la pasta) [skoo-laa-BAAST]

scungill’/scongigl’ – cooked snail (sconciglio) [skoon-JEEL]

sedeti/sededi – sit down (sedeteti) [SEH-daa-dee]

sesenta fame? – do you feel hungry?/are you hungry? (sei senti fame?) [seh-SEHN-taa-FAA-may]

sfacimm’ – bad person (sfacimma) [SVAH-CHEEM] [svaa-CHEEM]

sfogliadell’ – italian pastry (sfogliatella) [SHVOHL-ya-dell]

sciaquadell’ – whore (sciacquata) [shock-wa-DELL]

scumbari – disheveled (scumbari) [shkoom-baa-REE]

sigilian’ – Sicilian (siciliano) [sih-jeel-YAAN]

sorda – money (soldi) [SOAL-dee]

sorda – sister (sorella) [SOAR-duh]

spasciad’/scasciad’ – not talking (to someone) (spacciato/spasciau) [spaa-SHAAD]

spustad/spostat’ – spaced out (spostato) [spoo-STAAD]

strunz’ – sh_t (stronzo) [STROONZ]

stanna mabaych – son of a b—- (mispronounced “son of a b—-“) [STAA-naa-maam-BAYCH]

statagitt’!/stagitt’!/staizitt’!/staizii!be quiet! (stai zitto) [stah-tuh-JEET]

stendinz – intestines/guts (inglese: intestines) [stehn-DEENZ]

stugots/stugats – f___ it (questo cazzo/questu cazzu/’stu cazzu) [stoo-GAATS]

stunad – moron (stonato) [stoo-NAAD]

struppiau – extremely dimwitted (stupido) [stroo-pee-YAOW]

stuppiau – very dimwitted (stupido) [stoo-pee-YAOW]

stuppiad – dimwitted (stupido) [stoo-PEE-yaad]

stuppau – stopped [stoo-PAOW]

suprasa/suprasad – type of salami (soppressata) [soo-praa-SAAD]

suscia – blow (soffia) [SOOSH-yaa]

te fugo! – f— you! [tay-FOO-go]

ti voglio ben’assai – I love you so much (ti voglio bene) [tee-VOAL-yo-TROAP-aa-SAI]

un ada oda – another time (un altra volta/un altra ora) [oon-AA-daa-O-daa]

ue, goombah! – hey, man! (ue, compare!) [way-goom-BAH]

ufratu – your brother (il fratello/tuo fratello) [oo-FRAA-too]

umbriag’/umbriacc’/umbriago – intoxicated (ubriaco) [oom-bree-YAAG]

usorda – your sister (la sorella/tua sorella) [oo-SOAR-daa]

vaffangul’!/baffangul’!/ – f— you! (vai a fare in culo) [VAA-faan-GOOL]

vagaboom/vagabuma – vagabond (vagabonda) [vaa-gaa-BOOM]

vangopp’ – go up/go upstairs (fa in coppa) [vaan-GOAP]

veni ca/vieni qua – come (over) here (vieni qui) [veh-nee-KAA]

vedi caciunca/vidi cachunka! – watch out, you’re gonna get hurt! (vedi la ciunca?) [vee-dee-kaa-CHOON-kaa]

walyun/wayo/guaglion’/guaglio’ – young man (guaglione) [waal-YOON]

‘uarda/warda – look! (guarda!) [WAAR-daa]

‘uarda la ciunca! – watch out, you’re gonna get hurt! (guarda la ciunca!) (WAAR-daa-laa-CHOON-kaa]

zoot/zutt’ – down/downstairs (sotto) [zoot]

zutt’ u’ basciament’ – down to the basement (sotto u’ basement) [zoot-oo-baa-shaa-MENT]

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American Italian is an Italian-American pidgin language developed in the early 20th century by Italian immigrants settling in American cities and metropolitan areas, especially in New York and New Jersey. It is based on the Italian language, but it contains a mixture of Sicilian- and Neapolitan-inspired dialect words and phrases as well as English words. The language was prominent in United States cities on the East Coast, such as Newark, Paterson, New York City (especially Manhattan and Brooklyn), the cities of Long Island, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston, but I am finding that it was spoken very similarly in the other regions of the US as well as pockets of Canada. It was developed and spoken in tightly-knit Italian communities and neighborhoods.

Linguistically, a language is a complete form of communication, but American Italian is actually an incomplete language (a pidgin language) that needs to be supplemented with Italian (or English or both) in order to function. Many Gabbagool words are taken from Italian dialects, and different Italians in different areas spoke their dialects differently. Without a repository for these words, they will likely be lost, as pidgin languages are difficult to sustain. See the following definitions:

Language: a complete, independent form of verbal communication  (example: modern Italian or American English)

Dialect: a complete language derived from another complete language (example: Sicilian)

Pidgin: an incomplete, secondary language formed impromptu by people in an area who do not speak the main language (example: Gabbagool)

The spellings in this dictionary are somewhat arbitrary because these words do not truly belong to English or Italian; they are hybrid creations. I try to always utilize the Tuscan Italian (the official dialect on which the modern Italian language is based) as a guide to spelling, using commas for dropped vowels. If a word has an English origin, I will reflect its English spelling. If a word has unknown origins or a pronunciation that is difficult to spell in the Italian language, I will spell it phonetically using English as a guide.

This is the official dictionary and hub of American Italian (containing the approximate spellings, meanings, etymology, and pronunciations), so it is not lost forever. Much of this comes from memory and familial recollection. Putting this together in one succinct place was very fun, and I hope it is helpful. This dictionary will be updated, as it is an ongoing process.

In this dictionary, you will find tons of American Italian words and their Italian linguistic origins. This will be the official hub of everything related to American Italian. Please feel free to add to our ongoing comments section to share your words and stories! They will always be saved in the comments section, which itself is a living document of the culture.