Cheers in Italian

Every culture has its own cheering and toasting formula. We say cheers! in English, kanpai! in Japanese and santé! in French: three and many other words to share happiness and celebrate.

Since eating out at restaurants and celebrating is a huge part of the Italian culture, it comes at no surprise that toasting in Italian is even a larger part of the lifestyle in the country.

Knowing how to say cheers in Italian is essential if you ever end up attending a wedding or a birthday party or any other occasion worth celebrating.

alla salute - cheers in italian - two men toasting with glasses

How do you say cheers in Italian? In this lesson we’ll take a look at toasting traditions in Italian with many native audio recordings and real life examples. We’ll also take a look at the rules for drinking toasts you have to watch out for.

By the end of this lesson, you’ll know everything you need to start toasting in Italian like a real pro. Let’s start!


How to say cheers in Italian?

There’s more than one way of toasting in Italian. Generally speaking, there are three toasting expressions that can be used in any situations: cin cin, salute and alla nostra/tua/vostra.

First formula for toasting in Italian: Cin cin

This is the most common (and funniest) way to say cheers in Italian.

It’s pronounced as chin chin, something closer to “cheen cheen”, and you say this while making the glasses clink. Cin cin!

This toasting exclamation is particularly common because it reminds us of the sound the glasses make when they clink together.

Where does cin cin come from? It comes from the Chinese qǐng qǐng, meaning “you’re welcome, you’re welcome”.

Cin cin
“Chin chin”

cin cin - cheers in italian - toasting with female friends around a restaurant table

Second way to say cheers in Italian: (Alla) salute!

Salute! is as common and universal as cin cin. Taken by itself, salute translates “health”.

A slightly longer variant of this is alla salute, which we could literally translate as “to the health!”. It’s an exclamation that wishes good health on the other people attending the toast.

Salute!
“Health!”

Alla salute!
Here’s to your health!
“To the health!”

Salute and saluti are NOT the same thing.
Saluti means greetings, as in cordiali saluti, kind greetings.
Don’t confuse the two. Cheers in Italian use salute!.

salute - health - doctor office

Third way to say cheers in Italian: Alla nostra!

There’s three ways to say this toast, which are all suitable for any drinking occasions:

  • alla nostra (to our [health])
  • alla tua (to your [health])
  • alla vostra (to your [health])

Use alla nostra when you want to include yourself in your toast. Nostra means our, ours.

Use alla tua when you’re cheering another person. Tua means your, yours in the singular.

Use alla vostra when you’re toasting with a group of people. Vostra means your, yours in the plural.

Alla nostra!
To our health

Alla tua!
To your health (singular)
Here’s to you!

Alla vostra!
To your health (plural)
Here’s to you!

A Michele, che abbia sempre successo!
To Michael, may he always be successful!

A Dario e Paola, che siano sempre felici!
To Dario and Paola, may they always be happy!

toasting in italian - two boys cheering with glasses

Toasting in Italian… how to ask for it?

Let’s say nobody has shared cheers in Italian yet. How do you invite people to make a toast in Italian?

You clear your throat (ti schiarisci la gola), you raise your glass (alzi il bicchiere) and… words fail you because you don’t know how to ask to make a toast yet. What a bummer.

I’m here to help, so don’t panic! Here’s what you can say to prompt a round of cheers in Italian:

Vorrei fare un brindisi.
I would like to make a toast.

Vorrei proporre un brindisi.
I would like to propose a toast.

Facciamo un brindisi!
Let’s make a toast!

If you want to engage in a toast that’s already in action, it means you want to…

Partecipare a un brindisi
To participate in a toast

Unirsi a un brindisi
To join a toast

Laura era troppo triste per partecipare al brindisi.
Laura was too sad to participate in the toast.

Ehi, Marco, unisciti al nostro brindisi!
Hey, Marco, join our toast!

facciamo un brindisi! - older man raising a beer to toast

Brindare, brindisi?

To toast is most commonly translated as brindare, while brindisi translates toast as a noun.

Brindare
To toast, to cheer

Brindisi
Toast

Why are cheers in Italian called a brindisi? It comes from German’s bring dir’s, “I’m taking it to you”, meaning I’m raising your glass towards you to toast to your good health.

A common expression with brindare is brindare alla salute di + someone’s name. With this formula, you’re basically wishing someone good health (salute).

Brindare alla salute di…
Here’s to the health of…

Brindiamo alla salute del nostro nuovo direttore! Cin cin!
Here’s to the health of our new director! Cheers!

A variation of this formula is brindare in onore di, which translates as “to toast in honor of”.

Brindare in onore di…
Toasting in honor of…

Brindiamo in onore del più grande scrittore di tutti i tempi! Cin cin!
Let’s raise a glass in honor of the greatest writer of all time! Cheers!

Aiuta Lingookies con un 👍!


Specific phrases when toasting in Italian

Saying cheers in Italian is a way of celebrating. You celebrate a victory, a wedding, the aftermath of your graduation ceremony.

People can also share a round of cheers in Italian when they go out for a drink before dinner (aperitivo… this is another big part of the Italian culture!), during engagement parties, job promotions… any occasion is good to toast for.

So along with the many clinking glasses and cin cin‘s and salute‘s, you’ll hear many other common and specific exclamations such as…

Congratulazioni!
Congratulations!

Viva!
Cheers!

Common phrases during a birthday party

If it’s a birthday party you’re attending, you’ll often hear…

Auguri!
Wishes!

Tanti auguri!
Best wishes!

Buon compleanno!
Happy Birthday!

Cento di questi giorni!
One hundred such days!

cheers in italian - boy celebrating birthday with a funny pair of glasses on

Common phrases during a wedding

If it’s a wedding you’re attending, you’ll often hear…

Viva gli sposi!
Long live the newlyweds!

Congratulazioni agli sposi!
Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Common phrases during the holidays

You’re out drinking at New Year’s eve or at Christmas. Here’s what you’re most likely to hear and say:

Buon anno!
Happy new year!

Buon Natale!
Merry Christmas!

buon natale - santa claus and a reindeer - merry christmas

Rules for cheers in Italian

Celebrations are a time of laughter and happiness between people, and any social situation has its own rules. Toasting in Italian is no different.

These rules for cheers in Italian will depend on the degree of formality between the people making a toast. Drinking rules between friends are less strict than those between coworkers.

In any case, watch out for all of these.

1) The host goes first

This is not a problem if you’re between friends, but don’t invite for a toast if you’re not the host at a formal event. Even during a wedding, it’s common for the first man to ask for a drink.

It’s tradition for the host to stand up just before cheering and for people to fall silent to listen to what they have to say. See rule no. 6.

2) Cin cin is outdated… isn’t it?

Many say you shouldn’t use cin cin as your way to say cheers in Italian because it distorts a Chinese expression (see Cin cin paragraph). From my experience, however, Italian people have been cin cin…ning for years and have no intention of stopping for a salute! instead.

In a formal setting you might prefer to say salute!, though.

cin cin - people cheering with beers

2) Fill that glass!

Your toasting glass doesn’t need to be filled with drink or champagne to the brink, but it needs to hold some liquid. Otherwise, bad luck will come and find you.

If you forget about this rule during a round of cheers in Italian, your neighbors at the table will give you a heads up about this and wait for you to fill the glass a little.

Yes, there’s a lot of superstition involved while toasting in Italian.

4) Many clink glasses, but should raise them instead

All my life I’ve seen and heard people and relatives clinking their glasses. Officially though, you should just raise your hand holding the glass while you and all the other people around the table say their cin cin.

I’m not even sure many Italian know of this rule. You could say you could even look the odd one out if you raise your glass instead of clinking it.

If you don’t know what to do at first, follow suit with what the others around you are doing. Are they clinking their glasses together? Clink away!

When clinking occurs, you usually clink all glasses within reach, one at a time.

5) Don’t cross arms

This especially applies when you’re clinking glasses.

Don’t cross arms with other people. It can lead to spilled drinks, wet hands and just plain awkward situations. Don’t get in anyone’s way when they’re sharing a toast with another person.

crossing one's arms - newlyweds crossing their arms to toast to each other

6) Don’t hit the glass with that fork

Whatever you do, wherever you are, do not clink your glass with silverware. Get attention in other ways, other less rude ways.

7) Exploding bottle of wine

This is another don’t rule. When opening any bottle of wine, make sure you don’t make the cork “pop” as some consider it bad manners.


Cheers in Italian with… what drink?

It might be useful to know the most common kinds of drink you can exchange a toast with in Italian. Here they are:

Birra
Beer

Spumante, champagne
Champagne

Vino rosso
Red whine

green bottle of champagne, spumante

Italians don’t toast with water, but if you’re a nondrinker, they’ll close an eye.

Now that you know how to say cheers in Italian, you can finally celebrate together with your Italian friends!


What next?

Now that you’ve seen how to say cheers in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

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