How to Say FRIEND in Italian

Gli amici sono preziosifriends are precious.

Read on to learn all about:

  • how to say friend in Italian
  • the difference between amico and amica and how they’re pronounced
  • how to say, pronounce and use the Italian words for friends (amici and amiche)
  • the words for boyfriend and girlfriend
  • important words for describing special friends, like a best friend (un migliore amico), a childhood friend (un amico d’infanzia), a true friend (un vero amico), and a friend on Facebook (un amico su Facebook)
  • the word compagno, and how to use it for different kinds of buddies, as well as a significant other
  • terms of endearment and the common types of nicknames that Italians call their friends
  • how to talk to your friends in Italian and tell them how you feel
  • Italian sayings about friends, like chi trova un amico trova un tesoro
  • Italian culture references about friends

FRIEND: AMICO and AMICA

Amico means friend in Italian. But it’s not so simple. In Italian, nouns end differently depending on gender. So there are two different words for male friend and female friend

Un amico is a male friend (pronounced ah-MEE-koh):

Un’amica is a female friend (pronounced ah-MEE-kah):

Amico and amica are very similar to the Spanish words for friend, amigo and amiga, so make sure to pronounce them carefully.

Fun Fact: Amico comes from the Latin amicus (friend), which in turn is similar to the Latin amare (to love).

Fun Fact: AMICA is the name of a popular monthly Italian women’s magazine that has been in publication since 1962.  

Il mio amico (m) and la mia amica (f) mean my friend:

Un mio amico (m) and una mia amica (f) mean a friend of mine:

There are plenty of Italian songs with the word amico or amica in them, but my favorite right now is Il Mio Amico (My Friend), the 2021 single by rapper and singer-songwriter Madame:

You may recognize the word amica from the title L’amica geniale (My Brilliant Friend), Elena Ferrante’s best-selling novel that was also turned into a television series.

Good To Know: In Italian the words for boyfriend and girlfriend don’t contain the word amico for friend. Il mio ragazzo means my boyfriend, and la mia ragazza means my girlfriend. A fidanzato is a serious boyfriend, and a fidanzata is a serious girlfriend.

HOW TO SAY FRIENDS IN ITALIAN

There are two words for friends in Italian, amici and amiche. Again, it depends on the gender of the friends. The difference between amici and amiche is:

Amici is the masculine plural. It means friends, with at least one male in the group (ah-MEE-chee)

Amiche is the feminine plural form. It means friends that are all female (ah-MEE-keh)

Yes, you read that right: one boy makes the noun masculine plural. Even if there are one hundred female CEOs and one young boy, you have to use the masculine plural form amici.

Amici di Maria de Filippi is Italy’s longest-running talent show, on the air since 2001. It follows talented young singers, dancers and actors as they train and are critiqued by a jury of famous showpeople.  

KINDS OF FRIENDS: USING THE WORD AMICO

BEST FRIENDS

My best friend: Il mio migliore amico (m) and la mia migliore amica (f):

My best friends: I miei migliori amici (m. plural) and le mie migliori amiche (f. plural)  

You can also say amico per la pelle to talk about your best friend.

SPECIAL FRIENDS

A great friend: un grande amico (m), una grande amica (f)

A dear friend: un caro amico (m), una cara amica (f)

A true friend un vero amico (m), una vera amica (f)

A very old friend: un amico (m)/un’amica (f)  di vecchia data

A bosom buddy (lit: a friend of the heart): un amico (m)/un’amica (f) del cuore

A close friend: un amico intimo (m), un’amica intima (f)

A childhood friend: un amico (m)/ un’amica (f) d’infanzia

A friend forever: un amico (m)/un’amica (f) per sempre

A friend with benefits: scopamico (m), scopamica (f)

To be good friends: essere molto amici (m. plural), essere molto amiche (f. plural)

OTHER FRIENDS

A friend on Facebook: un amico (m)/un’amica (f) su Facebook

An imaginary friend: un amico immaginario (m), un’amica immaginaria (f)

A pen pal: un amico (m)/un’amica (f) di penna

A friend in common: un amico (m)/un’amica (f) in comune

A LOT/A FEW FRIENDS

To talk about how many friends you have, you can use these phrases:

Avere molto/tanti amici (m), avere tante amiche (f) means to have many friends
Avere pochi amici (m), avere poche amiche (f) means to have few friends

As an alternative, you can use amicizie, the Italian word for friendship:

avere molte amicizie means to have a lot of friends
avere poche amicizie means to have few friends

AMICHETTO

Amichetto (m) and amichetta (f) mean little friend, and they are often used to talk about small children. An amichetto/a can also refer to a small child in puppy love. Small children often have an amichetto/a del cuore, or a best friend (a friend of the heart).

AMICONE

An amicone is a very good friend. It is also used for that guy or girl who seems to be friends with everyone.

OTHER WORDS FOR FRIEND IN ITALIAN

COMPAGNO

The words compagno and compagna mean friend, or companion in Italian.  

Un compagno is a male friend, buddy, or companion (pronounced kohm-PAH-nyo):

Una compagna is female friend, buddy, or companion  (pronounced kohm-PAH-nya):

Compagno/a is used when talking about mates from school:

Compagno/a di scuola: schoolmate
Compagno/a di classe:  classmate
Compagno/a di banco: desk mate

Compagno/a is used to talk about buddies for certain activities:

Compagno/a di viaggio: travel partner/buddy
Compagno/a di bisboccia: drinking buddy
Compagno/a di merenda literally means snack buddy, but now it mainly translates as partner in crime

A compagno or compagna is also a life partner, like a boyfriend or girlfriend. 

Ti presento Marco, il mio compagno. Abitiamo insieme da quindici anni. This is my boyfriend Marco. We’ve lived together for fifteen years.

SLANG WORDS FOR FRIEND 

You may have heard the word paisan, to mean a friend, particularly a fellow countryman. Paisan is used in Italian American and Sicilian American slang. The corresponding Italian word is paesano/a, which means fellow countryman/countrywoman, as well as villager

Today, kids and teenagers call out to each other with ragà, which is short for ragazzi (kids). The closest equivalent is guys. For example: 

Ehi ragà! Andiamo a vedere la partita! Hey guys! Let’s go watch the game!

TALKING TO YOUR ITALIAN FRIENDS

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT 

There are a few terms of endearments that Italians use for their friends, and there are scores of others which are reserved for family members and children.

amico mio (m), amica mia (f): my friend (when addressing a friend)

caro (m), cara (f): dear

bello (m), bella (f), bello mio (m), bella mia (f): gorgeous

gioia, gioia mia: my joy

Ciao caro, come stai? Non ci vediamo da tanto tempo! Hi dear, how are you? We haven’t seen each other in a long time!

NICKNAMES

Italians often have nicknames, or soprannomi, for their friends. These are often simply the person’s last name, or a play on their last name. My husband refers to many of his closest friends by their last names.

If a friend’s last name has the name of an animal in it, for example Galletti (little roosters) or Merlini (little blackbirds), the person’s nickname is the animal: Gallo (Rooster) and Merlo (Blackbird). 

Sometimes nicknames play on a certain quality a person may have, or a specific characteristic about the person. Now that a friend of ours has been promoted to bank manager, our circle of friends calls him Il Direttore (The Manager).

TELLING YOUR FRIENDS HOW YOU FEEL

Here are some phrases to show what kind of friend you are:

Puoi contare su di me. You can count on me.
Ne vuoi parlare? Do you want to talk about it?

Here are some phrases to show your Italian friends how you feel about them:

Sono contento/a che siamo amici/amiche I’m glad we became friends.
Sono contento/a di averti nella mia vita I’m glad to have you in my life.
Sei un grande amico/Sei una grande amica You’re a great friend.
Ti voglio bene I love you (as a friend).

Good To Know: In Italian there are two ways to say I love you, so make sure you use the right one to avoid a super awkward exchange! Ti voglio bene (literally, I want you well), is reserved for friends and family. Ti amo is for telling a special someone that you love them in a romantic way.

ITALIAN SAYINGS ABOUT FRIENDS AND FRIENDSHIPS

Pochi ma buoni This is a saying about friends that translated directly means A few… but good. The gist is, you just need a few friends, but they have to be good ones. Quality, not quantity.

Chi trova un amico trova un tesoro A friend is a treasure, or translated directly: One who finds a friend, finds a treasure. This saying is the name of a 1981 film directed by Sergio Corbucci. It stars the famous Italian comedy duo Terence Hill and Bud Spencer. Here is the trailer for Chi trova un amico trova un tesoro:

Patti chiari amicizia lunga means Clear rules make for lasting friendships.

Dagli amici mi guardi Iddio che dai nemici mi guardo io: May God guard me from my friends, I can protect myself from my enemies. A friend’s betrayal is worse than an enemy’s.

In the 1954 film Totò Cerca Pace (Totò Seeks Peace), Totò faces trouble with his grandchildren’s meddling. In this scene Totò, perhaps the most important Italian comic actor of all time, makes a joke by changing nemici to parenti, which means relatives: Dagli amici mi guardi Iddio che dai parenti mi guardo io May God guard me from my friends, I can protect myself from my relatives. 

We leave you with a video of the migliori battute, or best lines from the iconic TV show Friends, dubbed in Italian: