12 Italian Terms of Endearment For The (Little) Ones You Love

May 30, 2014

No one does terms of endearment like Italy. Surprise your sweethearts back home or add to the mealtime Italian lessons you’ll take on a Me + Mom in Tuscany retreat with these popular nicknames for children and special someones. Ranging from heart-melting to playful, they’ll help you articulate your love in an original way — with romance language flair!

1. Amore! (ah-MOH-reh)

Direct, meaningful, and probably the most popular term of endearment in Italy, amore translates to “love” in Italian.

2. Tesoro! (teh-SOH-roh)

Call those you really cherish, tesoro; you’ll be referring to them as “treasure.”

3. Cuore Mio! (COOWOH-reh MEE-oh)

“My heart!” is an emphatic way to address loved ones that have stolen yours.

4. Vita Mia! (VEE-ta MEE-ah)

Vita mia is one of the most powerful Italian terms of endearment. It literally means, “My life!”

5. Luce dei Miei Occhi! (LOO-chee deyee mee-EHYEE OHK-kee)

“Light of my eyes!” One of my favorite, incredibly poetic nicknames for anyone that illuminates your world.

6. Cucciolo/a! (COO-choh-loh/lah)*

This one is especially sweet because it touches on the bond between parents and children. Cucciolo means “puppy,” “cub,” or any type of baby animal in general.


7. Passerotto/a! (pahs-seh-ROT-toh/tah)*

An affectionate metaphor for anyone who’s “learning to fly,” passerotto translates to “little sparrow.”

8. Topolino/a! (toh-poh-LEE-noh/nah)*

Continuing with the animal theme, Topolino means “little mouse” and is also what Mickey Mouse is called in Italy.

9. Patatino/a! (pah-tah-TEE-noh/nah)*

Translating to “little potato,” this is one of the most common terms of endearment for children in Italy.

10. Piccolo/a! (peek-KOHL-loh/lah)*

If you’ve noticed, “little” is part of most Italian nicknames. Piccolo is “small” in it’s purest form; it simply means, “little one.”

11. Mimmo/a! (MEEM-moh/mah)* baby

Mimmo is the shorter, sweeter, and very Tuscan phonetic equivalent to bambino (bahm-BEE-noh), the Italian word for “child” or “baby.”

12. Polpetto/a! (pohl-PEHT-toh/tah)*

Of course this would be a nickname used in Italy. For the larger “little ones” in your life, it lovingly translates to “meatball.”

*End the word in “o” for boys, “a” for girls

I’ve always called my son “Pippolo” (PEEP-poh-loh). I don’t really know where it came from or what it means, but it just fits him.

What special nicknames do you use for your loved ones?

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