[Research Guidance: Italian - Genealogical Word List] Research Guidance Version Of Data : 6/8/2001
 R E S E A R C H   G U I D A N C E

Genealogical Word List

Table of Contents
Language Characteristics
Additional Resources
Key Words
General Word List
Dates And Time

This list contains Italian words with their English translations. The words included here are those that you are likely to find in genealogical sources. If the word you are looking for is not on this list, please consult an Italian-English dictionary. (See the "Additional Resources" section.)

Italian is a Romance language derived from Latin. Many of the words resemble those of Latin. See Latin Genealogical Word List (34077).

Italian is spoken in Italy and the southern part of Switzerland in the cantons of Ticino and Graubünden. Italian is also spoken in Yugoslavia near the border with Trieste. Some of the records of Corsica, Nice, and Savoy were written in Italian before those areas became part of France. Clusters of Italian immigrants in major cities like New York, Chicago, Montreal, Toronto, and Melbourne also speak Italian.

Sicilian, Neapolitan, Romanesque, and Venetian are major dialects of Italian, and they use words similar to the words on this list. Several other minor dialects are spoken in the various provinces of Italy.


In Italian, the endings of most words vary according to the way the words are used in a sentence. Who— whose—whom or marry—marries—married are examples of words in English with variant forms. This word list gives the most commonly seen form of each Italian word. As you read Italian records, be aware that almost all words vary with usage. Only some variations are explained in this guide.

Gender. Italian nouns are designated as masculine or feminine. For example, vicinanza (neighborhood) is a feminine word, and villaggio (village) is a masculine word. Generally, nouns ending in -a are feminine, nouns ending -e may be either masculine or feminine, and nouns ending in -o are masculine.

Adjectives and articles (a, an, the) will have either masculine or feminine endings for the noun they modify: -a for feminine singular nouns, -o for masculine singular nouns. For example, in Italian you write ava paterna (paternal grandmother) or avo paterno (paternal grandfather).

Plurals. For nouns ending with -a, the plural is formed by replacing the last letter with -e; for nouns ending in -o or -e, replace the last letter with -i to form the plural. For example, figlia (daughter) becomes figlie (daughters), and padrino (godfather) becomes padrini (godparents).

Articles and adjectives take -e as the feminine plural ending, and -i as the masculine plural ending. Buona figlia becomes buone figlie (good daughters) and buono padrino becomes buoni padrini (good godparents).

Verb tense. Verbs also vary depending on mood, who is acting, and whether the action is in the past, present, or future. For example, the Italian verb sposare (to marry) could appear with various endings:

  Present Past Tenses
  marry married, was married
(she/he) sposa è sposato, fu sposato, sposò
(they) sposano sono sposati, furono sposati, sposarono

Diacritic Marks

The Italian language has several additional letters with diacritic marks: à, è, ì, ò, and ù. These diacritic marks indicate a change in pronunciation, but do not affect alphabetical order. They are more often used in recent documents.


Spelling rules were not fixed in earlier centuries when records of our ancestors were written. The k, j, and w are only used in foreign words. The following spelling variations may be found:

y or j used for i
i used for j

Return to top of page


This word list includes words most commonly found in genealogical sources. For further help, use an Italian- English dictionary. At the Family History LibraryLook this term up in the glossary., the Italian dictionaries are cataloged with the call number 453.21. The following dictionary is also available on microfilmLook this term up in the glossary. for use in Family History Centers:Look this term up in the glossary.

Orlandi, Giusseppe. Dizionario Italiano-inglese, Inglese-italiano [Italian-English, English-italian Dictionary]. Milano: Carlo Signorelli, 1957. (FHL film 1,181,660 item 5.)

Return to top of page


To find and use specific types of Italian records, you will need to know some key words in Italian. This section gives key genealogical terms in English and the Italian words with the same or similar meanings.

For example, in the first column you will find the English word marriage. In the second column you will find Italian words with meanings such as marry, marriage, wedding, wedlock, unite, and other words used in Italian records to indicate marriage.

English Italian
banns pubblicazioni, notificazioni
baptism(s) battesimo, -i
birth(s) nata, nascita, -e
burial(s) seppellimento, sepolto, sepolture, -i
child neonato, neonata, infante, bambino
christening(s) battesimo, -i
confirmation(s) cresima, -e
death(s) morte, morire, decesso, -i
father padre
husband marito, sposo
index indice
marriage(s) matrimono, sposato, coniugato, maritato, -i
month mese
mother madre
name nome
parents genitori
parish parrocchia
surname cognome
wife sposa, moglie
year anno

Return to top of page

Next Document

©1998, 2001 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the USA. No part of this document may be reprinted, posted on-line, or reproduced in any form for any purpose without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. FamilySearch is a trademark of Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
[FamilySearchTM: Research Guidance
Version of Data: 6/8/2001]