10 False Friends in English and Italian

Every language learner needs to watch out for false friends. These are words that sound very similar in both languages but in fact mean completely different things! Take a look at the ten most common and important ones for English and Italian.

1. Annoiare and Annoy

The translation for the verb annoiare in English is actually to bore which means to make someone feel bored. Annoy however means to make someone angry!

2. Pretendere and Pretend

Pretendere in Italian translates into English as to expect, which means to want and hope something, or in other cases to predict something will happen. However to pretend in English means to behave in a certain way to make others believe something that is not true.

3. Grosso and Gross

Many people know that the adjective grosso in Italian actually means large or big in English, while the American word gross definitely means something that is disgusting or unpleasant.

4. Morbido and Morbid

The translation for morbido in English is actually soft, something that sounds very strange to English speakers because morbid means something sad, unpleasant and usually associated with death.

5. Camera and Camera

Here we have the exact same word with completely different meanings. The word camera in Italian translates as room or bedroom whereas the English camera is the device for taking photographs!

6. Argomento and Argument

In Italian the word argomento means a subject, theme or topic, something quite different to the English argument, which means an angry disagreement, or a set of reasons to demonstrate a point of view.

7. Fabbrica and Fabric

There is a slight tenuous connection here but it’s still a bit of a stretch. Fabbrica in Italian means a factory in English, while fabric in English is the soft material that you use to make clothes and other things. Many factories make fabric, but they still mean completely different things!

8. Magazzino and Magazine

Magazzino in Italian translates in English as a warehouse, the large place you store manufactured goods, whereas a magazine in English is a monthly or weekly paper cover book containing articles and photographs!

9. Rumore and Rumour

Rumore in Italian is the noise your neighbour next door will not stop making while an English rumour is actually a story about someone or something that no one knows if it’s true or not!

10. Attualmente and Actually

This looks like a perfect translation for an adverb but then you realise that attualemente really means currently or at this moment, whereas actually is used to emphasise a fact, or used to correct someone!


Do you know any more false friends? Write in the comments below!

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