Is there an Italian equivalent word for "cool"?

30

8

I always had trouble translating "cool" in Italian.

It's tempting to translate the English term "cool" with "figo"; this seems to convey the wide meaning of cool well enough (surely better than other common translations like "fantastico" or "forte"), but the register is often inappropriate.

"Cool" is less colloquial than "figo", and, most importantly, it doesn't have any vulgar connotation; I can say that something is "figo" when talking with a friend, but I would never say it to my boss or write it in an advertisement (while I've seen "cool" used in almost any non-extremely-formal context).

So: is there some way to convey both the wide meaning and the register of "cool" in Italian?

Matteo Italia

Posted 2013-11-12T14:14:50.850

Reputation: 1 361

Some relevant remarks about the possible Italian words for “cool”: http://blog.terminologiaetc.it/2015/09/21/traduzione-cool/

DaG 2015-09-21T11:54:38.103

In the dialect from Naples you can say frisco which litterally translates cool. IE omm' frisco is a good translation for cool man. Anyway nobody outside the southern Italy will understand this translation.N74 2015-09-21T10:30:19.280

A livello nazionale mi accodo alla ottima risposta di Gabriele Petronella. Aggiungo, a Taranto si usano i termini "a uerre" e "a uerre probbie", tradotto in italiano: <code>a uerre = la guerra a uerre probbie = proprio la guerra (viene usato il termine proprio come pleonastico) </code>Joe Taras 2015-03-09T14:53:39.560

2In Tuscany we say "ganzo" and its meaning is really near to "cool", but it's a regional word. It's understood by all Italians, but it's normally used only in Tuscany, I think. "ganzo" sometimes (and still in Tuscany, I believe) is used also to identify an extramarital lover. For example, you can say "Luisa ha il ganzo", "Lorenzo ha la ganza", though I don't hear it very often, it's mostly used by old people and it depends on a location.Andrea 2014-05-28T10:41:11.740

I heard "ganzo" used often in translations, since it has the same semantic and a similar register of "cool" (IIRC in Italian translations of Calvin & Hobbes it's used very often), but, at least to me (I'm from Milan) it sounds a bit "forced" (I don't know why, but it feels a bit like adult people who try to imitate teen slang).Matteo Italia 2014-05-28T11:39:50.090

(OTOH, I agree that it's often a "safe" translation with generally no negative/vulgar perceived connotation, so +1 :) )Matteo Italia 2014-05-28T11:48:37.353

As i said, only in Tuscany is used normally, it sounds more normal than "forte!" or "grande!", as in the northern italy, but only in a colloquial conversation is normal to say "figa" with the meaning of "accidenti!" and here "figa" sounds very strange.Andrea 2014-05-28T12:16:10.737

thx for grammar editing.. i'm not so pro in written english..Andrea 2014-05-29T10:53:22.793

In provincia di Perugia si usa la parola "bulo".rikpg 2015-03-09T11:42:14.880

What about "pazzesco"? Is that not used for "cool"? – None – 2016-03-30T15:37:07.290

@user2338: "pazzesco" is more like "incredible"; also, you don't usually say "pazzesco" of a person.Matteo Italia 2016-03-30T16:55:18.227

2

I find the alternatives (even the ones proposed in the accepted answer) almost terrible: if forced to translate "cool" in an advertisement, for example, either I'd try to find some workaround, or I'd go for "cool", untranslated. See: http://www.garzantilinguistica.it/ricerca/?q=cool

gd1 2014-06-06T12:41:21.907

1To the answerers giving replies about local terms used in specific towns: while they are interesting in and of themselves, they are OT in a site about Italian language, and specifically in response to a question asking how to express a particular concept in Italian. At most, they are comments.DaG 2015-03-09T15:00:47.347

Answers

28

I'm afraid there's no way of conveying both meaning and register.

Here's a few options, each one of them has issues

  • figo, vulgar connotation, possibly NSFW
  • fico, slightly less vulgar than figo, but probably not enough
  • bello, appropriate in some contexts, but it generally loses the meaning
  • forte, only works in some sentences (Forte quel tipo!, Forte!), but it can have other meanings
  • tosto, again, works only with specific sentences

The only word I know people have being using to translate cool almost directly is togo.

I came to know it as an expression used in the popular sitcom Camera Cafè by the character Silvano, but it apparently has older origins. According to the comments it was used a lot in the 80's, but I don't know the etymology of it.

It has basically the same meaning of figo, without the vulgar connotation. However it sounds a little bit weird/lame, and I wouldn't feel comfortable in using it nowadays. Nonetheless I've heard people saying it in exclamations (and I always look at them suspiciously...)

Gabriele Petronella

Posted 2013-11-12T14:14:50.850

Reputation: 3 259

1my cousins from Cosenza were using togo a lot 10-20 years ago, I think it's still usedmucio 2013-11-12T17:45:05.487

thanks for the input, I wasn't aware of it. Do you know something else about the regional diffusion of such word?Gabriele Petronella 2013-11-12T17:46:15.560

1togo was widely used in the 80's in Lombardy. I would also add "figata" as a lighter version of "figo"Sklivvz 2013-11-12T17:49:08.933

1@Sklivvz thanks, I added a note about the use of togo, since apparently you and mucio agree on it being used in the 80s. However I'm not sure that figata is lighter than figo.Gabriele Petronella 2013-11-12T17:53:28.830

2Well done, answer accepted; I thought that this could probably be a very common question, so now we have something to link.Matteo Italia 2013-11-12T19:27:26.523

1

I'm not sure that the difference between “figo” and “fico” is so much in degree as it is in regional origin, the former being more of a northern form, the latter central-southern, as in “cagare” vs. “cacare”. Cf. http://youtu.be/HJ0Yh5wZjpc

DaG 2013-11-12T22:29:22.330

You may be right, even though I effectively use it in that sense. To my ear fico sounds slightly less harsh than figoGabriele Petronella 2013-11-12T22:53:32.457

I think figata it's just the noun derived from figo, I have also heard ficata, but less oftenmucio 2013-11-12T23:57:32.990

Please note that "togo" is (was) prevalently used in the north. Never heard it in southern Italy except form the guy in Camera Cafe ;)algiogia 2015-01-14T16:18:42.003

6

You can use "bello" or "grande" (beside "fantastico" and "forte" that you've mentioned) to translate "cool".

mucio

Posted 2013-11-12T14:14:50.850

Reputation: 830

2Their meaning is not the same as "cool". Bello is too generic, it doesn't convey the "coolness". "Forte" would work just as an exclamation ("Cool!" -> "Forte!"). How would you translate all those hideous titles like "the 10 coolest gadgets", "the coolest place to work" & co.?Matteo Italia 2013-11-12T16:23:55.363

5in these cases "cool" means something between "molto interessante" and "alla moda/del momento", but also "attraente": I 10 gadget del momento or Il posto di lavoro più attraente. Unfortunately transalation is never 1 to 1mucio 2013-11-12T16:48:26.790

2another way to translate cool can be also "giusto", but it sounds to me quite old fashioned. "The Fonz is cool" can be transalted "Fonzie è uno giusto". So "I 10 gadget più giusti del momento", "Il posto di lavoro più 'giusto'", but in the second case better specify with quotation marksmucio 2013-11-12T16:51:37.507

1Eh, "giusto" could have been a great candidate... 30 years ago :) +1 anyway, I know there's no universal solutionMatteo Italia 2013-11-12T19:24:25.590

4

"splendido!", can be used, too.

It refers to something being wonderful. It´s origin is the infinitiv "splendere" which means "shine"

It is used more by adult people but can be used for every situation where something stands out from the usual.

Hiatus

Posted 2013-11-12T14:14:50.850

Reputation: 159

Welcome to Italian.SE! This, more than an answer, looks like a comment. Would you please try and expand it?egreg 2014-06-06T17:27:33.257

1you should explain when "splendido" may be used.mau 2014-06-07T08:17:53.337

4

You could say

forte

bello

Fantastico

Or

Buono

Buono is used more for good even though

Tia27

Posted 2013-11-12T14:14:50.850

Reputation: 567

2

"Splendido" is a perfect translation of cool; of course only one of them. In the Free Dictionary Online you will find "excellent" and "first rate" (from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 2011) and "sophisticated" and "elegant" (from the Collin's English Dictionary). Sometimes that is exactly what "cool" means.
The use of "splendido" has also another advantage: whoever wants to learn our language does not really need to learn fico, figo and figata, which I simply find ghastly.

I imagine that the downvote does not refer to the first paragraph. So there must be somebody around who actually prefers the definitions: fico, figo and figata. My warmest wishes (real, not joking) for the future.

Just two days ago I recommended to two teachers of our primary and secondary schools, where the use of those words is unfortunately common, to try all they can to explain to their students that ours is a beautiful language which has much better words for the same meaning, so there is no need to use vulgar expressions.

And here's the Italian:

"Splendido" è una perfetta traduzione di "cool"; naturalmente solo una fra le tante. Nel Free Dictionary Online possiamo trovare "excellent" e "first rate" (dall'American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 2011) e "sophisticated" ed "elegant" (dal Collin's English Dictionary). A volte quello è esattamente ciò che si intende per "cool".
L'uso di "splendido" ha anche un altro vantaggio: chiunque voglia imparare la nostra lingua non ha davvero bisogno di imparare fico, figo and figata, che trovo semplicemente terribili.

Immagino che il voto negativo non si riferisca al primo partagrafo. Quindi ci deve essere qualcuno che preferisce davvero le definizioni: fico, figo and figata. I miei più sentiti auguri (sinceri, non scherzo), per il futuro.

Proprio due giorni fa ho raccomandato a due insegnanti delle nostre scuole elementari e medie, dove l'uso di quelle parole è sfortunatamente comune, di cercare di fare tutto quello che possono per spiegare ai loro studenti che la nostra è una bella lingua che ha parole molto migliori con lo stesso significato, quindi non c'è bisogno di usare espressioni volgari.

alsa

Posted 2013-11-12T14:14:50.850

Reputation: 465