BUON GIORNO: The Real Translation

Buon giorno principessa

Hello princess! 
Good morning princess! 
Good day princess!

Despite what the internet may tell you, the Italian phrase buon giorno does not have just one translation. Keep reading to find out how to translate buon giorno, how to pronounce it, and how to use it.

Buon giorno is also written as one word, buongiorno.


Buon means good in Italian, and giorno means day, so the direct translation of buon giorno is good day.

The pronunciation of buon giorno is: boo-OHN jee-OHR-noh

Listen to the pronunciation of buon giorno here:


Man waving and smiling and saying in a graphic speech bubble, "buon giorno!"

If you look up the translation of buon giorno, you will probably find that it also means good morning. In fact, often good morning is the first or only translation listed. How is that possible? It comes down to how Italians actually use buon giorno in day-to-day life. 

Buon giorno is a greeting that Italians use for most of the daytime, until after lunch (about 2 or 3 pm) in much of Italy. In other parts of Italy it is used as a greeting as long as there is daylight. In any case, since it is used throughout the morning, often buon giorno is translated to mean good morning, even though that is not its only translation.

In fact, buon mattino is the literal translation of good morning, but Italians never use it! To say good morning, Italians always say buon giorno

Italians also use buon giorno as a formal way to say hello during the day, instead of saying ciao, which is an informal greeting that means hello, or hi. After lunch, or about 2 or 3 pm, if they are being formal Italians usually say buona sera, which means good evening, instead of ciao

When do Italians speak formally? To show respect when talking to people older than they are, elderly people, teachers, doctors, clients, bosses, and people they do not know well.

Italians use the greeting buon giorno when entering a shop, restaurant, bar or any public office during the day. When a customer enters a shop, shopkeepers will greet customers with buon giorno during the day. They may also use buon giorno during the day as a parting greeting when you leave.

At noon: 

Barista: Buon giorno Signore.
Signor Rossi: Buon giorno. Vorrei un caffè.
Barista: Subito Signore.

Barista: Hello sir.
Signor Rossi: Hello. I’d like a coffee.
Barista: Right away sir.

To say hello to family members and good friends, Italians may say buon giorno the first time they see them in the morning, for example upon waking up, or in the street, to point out specifically that it is morning time. Otherwise, they will say ciao, the informal greeting. 

Mother to her daughter at 7 am: Buon giorno tesoro mio, è l’ora di alzarsi. Good morning my treasure, it’s time to get up.
Mother to her daughter at 11 am: Ciao amore, sono tornata! Hi love, I’m back!

Read more about Time in Italian.

If you’re interested in learning even more about the ins and outs of Italian greetings, read How to Say Hello in Italian.


You will also hear many Italians say simply giorno or ‘ngiorno as a shortcut, or an abbreviation of buon giorno. The translation of giorno and ‘giorno is the same: good morning or good day


Just like buon giorno, the direct translation of buondì is good day: buon means good, and means day. Buondì is used exactly the same way as buon giorno, except you will hear it much less, as it has a more old-fashioned ring. 


In Italian there is a well loved saying: Il buon giorno si vede dal mattino.

The direct translation is You can tell it will be a good day from the morning.

My mother-in-law said this to me often when my children were little, for example on the first day of school, or when they tried something new.

The meaning is All’s well that begins well, or You can tell how something will go by how it starts out. 


What is bon giorno?

You may hear Italians say what sounds like bon giorno, but they actually are saying buon giorno, which means good day or good morning. Both the u and o are pronounced in the word buon (boo-OHN), but often when speaking fast it can sound like bon

What is bonjour?

Bonjour is the French word for good day, or hello. The translation of bon is good, and jour means day. Its use in French is similar to how buon giorno is used in Italian.