DAD in Italian

Who’s your Daddy? Papà! Babbo!

What do Italians call Dads? Discover the two main ways Italians say Dad: papà and babbo, and the difference between them. You’ll also learn other ways to say Dad in Italian, and how to pronounce Dad in Italian correctly so you won’t call him Pope or mush by accident! You’ll find info on how to say father in Italian, and who Babbo Natale is. There’s information on Father’s Day in Italy, phrases for a Father’s Day Card, and how to tell Dad I love you and other loving phrases in Italian. You’ll also learn why when Italians say DAD these days, they are talking about school, not Dads! 

You may also want to read about how to say son and daughter in Italian.


Papà means Dad, Daddy, Pa, Pop, Papa, and Poppa in Italian. Italians call their dads papà their whole lives, not just as children. The plural of papà is papà (it doesn’t change).

Be sure to pronounce papà correctly by stressing the last syllable. 

The pronunciation of papà is: pah-PAH

Listen to how to pronounce papà here: 

Attenzione: Papà, Papa and pappa are three very similar words with completely different meanings! Papa, with stress on the first syllable, means Pope! And pappa, with emphasis on the first syllable and an Italian double p sound, which means mush, and is used to refer to food that babies eat.

Other words for Dad in Italian that are related to papà are papi, papino and. These are all affectionate terms for Daddy.

Use the word papà when speaking directly to your dad, or when speaking about him to someone you know well. 

For example:

Papà, chi ha vinto la partita ieri? Daddy, who won the game yesterday?

Il mio papà mi prende a scuola tutti i giorni. My dad picks me up from school every day.


Father walking with his two sons on a narrow stone street in Italy.

Babbo also means Dad, Daddy, Pa, Pop, Papa, and Poppa  in Italian. It means the same as papà and is used the same way. The plural of babbo is babbi.

The pronunciation of babbo is: BAHB-boh

Listen to how to pronounce babbo here: 


So what’s the difference between papà and babbo? It depends on where you are!

In Tuscany, other areas of central Italy, and pockets elsewhere, Italians call their dads babbo. In most other places, such as Sicily, papà is commonly used. However, there are certainly exceptions and there isn’t a hard and fast rule!

One thing to watch out for: in areas of southern Italy and pockets of Italy, as well as in Milan slang, babbo also means stupid, or dummy!

Just like with papà, use the word babbo when speaking directly to your dad, or when speaking about him to someone you know well. 

For example:

Babbo, che ore sono? Daddy, what time is it?

Conosci il mio babbo? Do you know my dad?

Papà aiutami a fare un castello di sabbia! Daddy help me make a sandcastle!

Il mio papà è bravo a raccontare le storie. My Dad is good at telling stories.


Babbino is an especially affectionate term for Daddy, which comes from babbo. You may recognize babbino from one of opera’s most famous arias, O mio babbino caro (Oh my dear papa) from Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.

Here O mio babbino caro is sung by the great Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi.


Boy sitting on Babbo Natale / Santa's lap in Italy.

The most famous babbo is Babbo Natale, which means Father Christmas, or Santa Claus. It is used throughout Italy, even in areas where people call their dads papà.


Padre means father in Italian. Italians use padre when speaking about their fathers.

Italians don’t use padre when speaking directly to their fathers. Instead, they use papà, babbo, or one of the related words above (like ).

For example:

Mio padre fa il pasticciere. My father is a pastry chef.

Salve Signora Bellini. Le presento mio padre. Hello Mrs. Bellini. This is my father.

Here are some other types of fathers in Italian:

Nonno Grandfather
Patrigno Stepfather
Suocero Father-in-law
Padrino Godfather


Father throwing his son in the air at the beach in Italy.  You can see a rock wall in the background and a few other sunbathers.  There is a green lighthouse in the distance of the left.  The water is calm.

In Italy Father’s Day, or La Festa del Papà, is celebrated on March 19th, which is the patron saint day of San Giuseppe: Saint Joseph’s Day or the Feast of Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph was Jesus Christ’s earthly father.

The holiday often overlaps with carnevale, or carnival. There are many region-specific traditions, as well as traditional foods that Italians enjoy on Saint Joseph’s day. Fried treats are eaten all over Italy, including frittelle (sweet rice fritters) in Tuscany and Zeppole di San Giuseppe (fried donuts with pastry cream) in Campania. 

To wish your Dad a Happy Father’s Day, say Buona Festa del Papà! or Auguri!


These phrases will come in handy to write a Father’s Day card, or just to talk with your Dad in Italian and tell him how much you appreciate him. 

Papà/babbo . . . 

Come stai?How are you?
GrazieThank you
Grazie milleA thousand thanks
PregoYou’re welcome
Mi manchiI miss you
Buon compleanno!Happy birthday!
Tanti auguri!!Best wishes (Happy birthday)!
Sei il miglior papà/babbo del mondo! You’re the best Dad in the world!
Sei numero uno!You’re number one!
Buona Festa del Papà!Happy Father’s Day!
Ti voglio beneI love you

Attenzione!! Italians use ti voglio bene to tell a family member or platonic friend I love you, not ti amo! The direct translation of ti voglio bene is I want you well and it’s used for friendly and familial love.

On the other hand, ti amo means I love you and is reserved for romantic love. Use it with your spouse, partner, lover, or significant other.


Figlio Di Papà – Spoiled Rich Kid In Italian

The direct translation of figlio di papà is daddy’s boy. In Italian, it refers to a spoiled rich kid

Tutti i figli di papà a scuola mia vanno a sciare in Svizzera. All the spoiled rich kids at my school go skiing in Switzerland.

Daddy Longlegs In Italian

Eek! As a kid I was terrified of them. Daddy longlegs spiders still make me squirm! In Italian, daddy longlegs have a few different names, including ragni gambalunga, and ragni ballerini

Some people also call crane flies daddy longlegs. The word for crane fly in Italian is tipula or zanzarone


When the Covid-19 pandemic hit Italy and the entire country went into strict lockdown in March 2020, all schools closed. For most Italian students, it was their first taste of DAD, which stands for didattica a distanza. It means distance learning, or online learning

Italian children went back to school countrywide in presenza (in person) in September 2020. Holding classes in person has been a priority for the Italian school system. But with classes frequently going into quarantine, and regional shutdowns, DAD has been used frequently. 

How is the term DAD used? Italians say they are in DAD to say they are online, doing distance learning

For example: 

La mia classe è in DAD questa settimana perché la prof ha il Covid. Fortunatamente non ha sintomi. My class is online this week because the teacher has Covid. Fortunately she doesn’t have symptoms. 


How do you say father in Sicilian?
The Sicilian word for father is patri.

Is learning Italian on your bucket list? Try my individual online lessons tailored to your level and goals, whether you’re just starting out or need to brush up your Italian. I have 15 years of teaching experience with students on two continents. Click here to set up a complimentary consultation and here to read more about GTKI.