[ih-tal-yuh n]


of or relating to Italy, its people, or their language.


a native or inhabitant of Italy, or a person of Italian descent.
a Romance language, the language of Italy, official also in Switzerland. Abbreviation: It, It., Ital.

Origin of Italian

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Medieval Latin word Italiānus. See Italy, -an
Related formsI·tal·ian·esque, adjectivean·ti-I·tal·ian, adjective, nounhalf-I·tal·ian, adjectivenon-I·tal·ian, adjective, nounpro-I·tal·ian, adjective, nounpseu·do-I·tal·ian, adjective, noun

Pronunciation note

The pronunciation of Italian with an initial [ahy] /aɪ/ sound (pronounced like the word eye ) and often with level stress on the first and second syllables: [ahy-tal-yuh n] /ˈaɪˈtæl yən/ is heard primarily from uneducated speakers. This pronunciation is sometimes facetious or disparaging in purpose and is usually considered offensive. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for italian

Contemporary Examples of italian

Historical Examples of italian

  • He was received with joy for the service he had rendered to the Italian people.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • Yet we have just seen that the Greeks of old were too self-contained for their Italian brethren.

    The Dramatic Values in Plautus

    Wilton Wallace Blancke

  • Rico could soon speak Italian as if he had always spoken it.

    Rico and Wiseli

    Johanna Spyri

  • In any case, it was evident that Italian opera was a precarious enterprise.


    Edward J. Dent

  • The Corsicans speak Italian, and this would never do for a French schoolboy.

British Dictionary definitions for italian



the official language of Italy and one of the official languages of Switzerland: the native language of approximately 60 million people. It belongs to the Romance group of the Indo-European family, and there is a considerable diversity of dialects
a native, citizen, or inhabitant of Italy, or a descendant of one


relating to, denoting, or characteristic of Italy, its inhabitants, or their language
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for italian



early 15c., "native of Italy," from Italian Italiano, from Italia "Italy" (see Italy). As an adjective from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper