How to Say FAMILY in Italian + Other Family Terms

Per la famiglia si fa tutto.
For our family, we’ll do anything.

This rings especially true in Italy, where the family has such a strong pull and gives structure to most of cultural life. Dive in and learn all about Italian family words, how to pronounce famiglia, the Italian word for family, and how to use it in phrases and important family terms. 

Discover the words for family members in Italian, like madre and padre (mother and father), as well as how to pronounce them. Find out how to talk about the nuclear family (la famiglia nucleare), extended family (la famiglia allargata), and in-laws (la famiglia acquisita) and all Italian relatives, including marital status. There are plenty of examples to help you out, and there’s even information about some of the most important families in Italian history. 


Famiglia is the word for family in Italian. It derives from the Latin word famǐlia.

Una famiglia is a family.

The pronunciation of una famiglia is OO-nah fah-MEE-ylee-ah

Listen to how to pronounce una famiglia here: 

La famiglia is the family.

The pronunciation of la famiglia is lah fah-MEE-lyee-ah

Listen to how to pronounce la famiglia here: 

Famiglia is very similar to the Spanish word for family, familia, so make sure to pronounce it carefully- practice makes perfect! It all comes down to pronouncing the “gli” in famiglia, which is not pronounced like a “gli” in English. GLI in Italian makes a kind of LYEE sound, almost like the LLI in million. Listen to how to pronounce the GLI sound:

To say the Johnson family in Italian, use la famiglia Johnson. To say the Johnsons, use i Johnson, or the correct plural definite article + the name of the family. Read the section on Famous Italian Families for some important names.

La Famiglia is the name of a 1987 film directed by the great Italian screenwriter and director Ettore Scola, featuring Vittoria Gassman, Stefania Sandrelli, Fanny Ardant and Sergio Castellito. It is the portrait of a Roman family, spanning from 1906 to 1986, and unfolds inside their Roman apartment. Here is the opening scene.

In Famiglia, In the Family, is the name of a weekly Italian soft news magazine. Famiglia Cristiana, Christian Family, is another weekly Italian magazine that reports on current events from a purportedly Catholic perspective.


What do Italians call their family? They call it la mia famiglia, which means my family.

The pronunciation of la mia famiglia is lah MEE-ah fah-MEE-lyee-ah

Listen to how to pronounce la mia famiglia here: 

La mia famiglia cena alle 20.
My family eats dinner at 8 pm.

Here’s the rundown on how to use possessives for describing family: 

la mia famiglia  is my family
la tua famiglia is your family (informal you) 
la sua famiglia is his/her/your family (formal you) 
la nostra famiglia is our family
la vostra famiglia is your family (plural you) 
la loro famiglia is their family


Famiglie is the word for families in Italian

Le famiglie means the families.

The pronunciation of le famiglie is leh fah-MEE-lyee-e

Listen to how to pronounce le famiglie here: 



In Italian, the immediate family, or close relatives, are called i parenti stretti, and the nuclear family is la famiglia nucleare. Here are the words for nuclear family members in Italian, along with how to pronounce them.

dadpapà, babbopah-PAH, BAHB-boh

Attenzione! There are sneaky false friends to avoid when talking about parents and relatives in Italian! Even though it sounds and looks like the word for parents, parenti actually means relatives in Italian. Genitori is the Italian word for parents. If you really want to sound Italian, say i miei (mine) to say my parents, as in:

Questo weekend i miei vanno a Roma. This weekend my parents are going to Rome.


The extended family in Italian is called la famiglia allargata. Here are the words for extended family members in Italian, along with how to pronounce them.

relativesparenti, familiaripah-REHN-tee, fah-meel-ee-AH-ree
grandmother, grandmanonnaNOHN-nah
grandfather, grandpanonnoNOHN-noh
cousin (female)cuginakoo-JEE-nah
cousin (male)cuginokoo-JEE-noh
great grandmotherbisnonnabeez-NOHN-nah
great grandfatherbisnonnobeez-NOHN-noh
An extended family sitting down at an outdoor lunch.


La famiglia acquisita means acquired family, and is the term for family by marriage in Italian, or in-laws. Here are the words for family members in Italian who are related through marriage, along with how to pronounce them.

parents-in-lawsuoceri, suoceresoo-OH-cheh-ree, soo-OH-cheh-reh

The Italian words for stepfamily members are usually just used for technical clarification. However, since these terms can have a negative ring to them, it is common to drop the step- distinction when talking about family, and simply use the terms for mother (madre), father (padre), sister (sorella), brother (fratello), daughter (figlia) and son (figlio).  

When talking about your own stepmother or stepfather, you can say my mother’s husband (il marito di mia madre), my mother’s wife (la moglie di mia madre), my father’s wife (la moglie di mio padre), or my father’s husband (il marito di mio padre). 


Here are some Italian adjectives that come in handy when talking about family members’ marital status. I’ve explained how to pronounce them.

unmarriedcelibe (m), nubile (f)CHEH-lee-beh, NOO-bee-leh
marriedsposato (m), sposata (f)spoh-ZAH-toh, spoh-ZAH-tah
separatedseparato (m), separata (f)seh-pah-RAH-toh, seh-pah-RAH-tah
divorceddivorziato (m), divorziata (f)dee-vohr-tsee-AH-toh, dee-vohr-tsee-AH-tah
widowedvedovo (m), vedova (f)VEH-doh-voh, VEH-doh-vah


I miei genitori sono divorziati.
My parents are divorced.

Elena è vedova.
Elena is widowed.

Rocco è sposato.
Rocco is married.


There are many different types of families. Here are the Italian terms to have handy::

A large family is una famiglia numerosa
A small family is una famiglia piccola
The extended family is la famiglia allargata
The family by marriage (in-laws) is la famiglia acquisita
The immediate family, or close relatives, is i parenti stretti
The nuclear family is la famiglia nucleare
A patriarchal family is una famiglia patriarcale
A matriarchal family is una famiglia matriarcale
The Holy Family is la Sacra Famiglia
The Royal family is la famiglia reale


Here is a roundup of some important terms about family in Italian:

The head of the family is il capo famiglia (m) or la capo famiglia (f)
The family business is l’azienda di famiglia
The family crest is la stemma di famiglia
Family life is la vita familiare
A family name, or surname, is un cognome
The family tree is l’albero genealogico



Time to use the word famiglia in Italian phrases about family:

Essere di famiglia means to be like family

I Mori sono di famiglia, li conosciamo da vent’anni.
The Moris are like family, we’ve known them for twenty years.

Fare in famiglia means to do something as a family

Festeggiamo Natale in famiglia, ma passiamo Pasqua con gli amici al mare.
We celebrate Christmas as a family, but we spend Easter with friends at the seaside.

La famiglia di means the family of (someone)

Ieri ho conosciuto la famiglia di Salvatore.
Yesterday I met Salvatore’s family.

Essere una grande famiglia means to be (like) a big family

Ho nove cugini, siamo una grande famiglia!
I have nine cousins, we’re a big family!

Noi della squadra di basket siamo una grande famiglia!
Our basketball team is like a big family!

Mettere su famiglia means to start a family

Ancora mi voglio concentrare sulla carriera, non sono pronta a mettere su famiglia.
I want to keep focusing on my career, I’m not ready to start a family.

Tenere famiglia means to have a family, or to support one’s family

Tengo famiglia, non mi posso permettere di perdere il lavoro.
I support my family, I can’t afford to lose my job.

Essere di buona famiglia and Venire da una buona famiglia mean to be/come from a good/upstanding family, or a wealthy family.

Riccardo viene da una buona famiglia ma non ha imparato le buone maniere.
Riccardo comes from a good family but he hasn’t learned good manners.


Italians have many proverbs about family. Here are some Italian sayings with the approximate translations that capture their meanings:

I panni sporchi si lavano in famiglia
Don’t air your dirty laundry in public.

Beata quella famiglia che ha per primo una figlia.
A lucky family’s first born is a daughter.

Della famiglia se ne vorrebbe dire, e non se ne vorrebbe sentir dire.
About one’s own family there’s plenty to say, but you don’t want to hear it from other people.

Qualche macchiolina in famiglia l’abbiamo tutti.
We all have a smirch or two in our family.


As explained above, to say the Rossi family in Italian, use la famiglia Rossi. To say the Rossis, use i Rossi: the correct plural definite article + the name of the family.

Important Italian families created dynasties that influenced the shape of history in various parts of what are now modern-day Italy, through art, politics and culture. Many have descendants that are alive and well, carrying on the family legacy. These are some of the names you will see on Italian castles, palaces and art galleries:

In Milan:
I Visconti are the Viscontis, La famiglia Visconti means the Visconti family
Gli Sforza are the Sforzas, La famiglia Sforza means the Sforza family

In Florence:
I Medici are the Medicis, La famiglia Medici means the Medici family
Gli Strozzi are the Strozzis, La famiglia Strozzi means the Strozzi family
I Corsini are the Corsinis, La famiglia Corsini means the Corsini family
Gli Antinori are the Antinoris, La famiglia Antinori means the Antinori family

In Rome:
I Farnese are the Farneses, La famiglia Farnese means the Farnese family
Gli Orsini are the Orsinis, La famiglia Orsini means the Orsini family
I Borghese are the Borgheses, La famiglia Borghese means the Borghese family
I Barberini are the Barberinis, La famiglia Barberini means the Barberini family

In Northern Italy and Mantua:
I Gonzaga are the Gonzagas, La famiglia Gonzaga means the Gonzaga family