Translations dictionary

ciao bella

or ciao bello [chou bel-lah] or [chou bel-loh]

What does ciao bella mean?

Ciao bella is an informal Italian expression literally meaning “goodbye (or hello), beautiful.”

Where does ciao bella come from?

ciao bella

Ciao bella is a friendly, sometimes flirtatious way to address a singular woman or a friendly way to greet a close female friend.

Ciao is an old Italian dialectical word that comes from a Medieval Latin word, perhaps surprisingly, meaning “slave.” It can mean “hello” or “goodbye,” depending on the context. Bella is the feminine singular for “beautiful” in Italian. Taken together, ciao bella is a colloquial, familiar way of saying “hello” or “goodbye” to one woman (as opposed to a group). The masculine version of the expression is ciao bello. Generally, this greeting or parting expression is used by a woman to address a man. A man may more likely address a male friend with ciao grande, literally “good bye, great (person)” but with the casual force of “See ya, boss (or big guy).”

A variant of the expression, bella ciao, is the name of a song used by the anti-facist resistance in Italy during World War II, based on an older version dating to the early 1900s. In the song, a resistance fighter is saying goodbye to the “beautiful world” (bella ciao) as he prepares to die for freedom. French-Spanish artist Manu Chao recorded a popular Spanish-language version of this song in 1999.

Ciao bella has become intimately associated, if not stereotyped with, Italy. It has inspired the name of a 2008 Swedish-Iranian film, a 2009 reggaeton song by Don Omar, and countless products related to Italian language and culture, from gelato and shoe brands to Italian language-learning programs and travel guides.

Examples of ciao bella

When my sweetie turns to me and says "ciao bella" I melt 😍
@CarlaHas2, April, 2018
Austin, Texas...did a bit of painting, did a bit of acting, all work[s] in progress...and had a hell of a good time doing it all. Ciao bella Austin.
Pierce Brosnan quoted in Andy Jechow, KXAN, April, 2018
"Ciao, bello!" The coal-eyed beauty who had kissed Jason through the Fiat's window appeared through the crowd, her pretty red mouth smiling. Utterly ignoring Storm, she perched herself on the table next to Jason. "Ciao, bella," he smiled.
Madeline Ker, Virtuous Lady, 1983

Who uses ciao bella?

Italians generally use ciao bella/o among close friends or acquaintances—not with strangers, superiors, or elders—and roughly as an equivalent to the English “See ya, lovely” or Later, buddy.”

In Rome, ciao bella has been known to be used as a catcall to attractive women, drawing on the meaning of bella as “beautiful.” In Milan, however, ciao bella is heard less often, and use of the phrase by visitors there might sound out of place or stereotyping of Italians.

Outside of Italy, people may colloquially say or write ciao bella to evoke an Italian air for rhetorical effect or to demonstrate worldliness. In the US, ciao bella is often used more flirtatiously, meant to impress or compliment an attractive woman, more in line with its Roman applications.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of ciao bella like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of ciao bella that will help our users expand their word mastery.