How do you say DARK in Italian?

How exactly do you say dark in Italian?

As you will see in this lesson, there’s more than one way to translate this word into Italian. Dark chocolate uses a different word than dark sky or even it’s dark outside. Why is that? Read on to find out!

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How do you say dark in Italian

Dark can be either a noun or an adjective.

Il buio

Buio is the direct translation for dark in Italian when it’s used as a noun. It is a masculine noun and it is uncountable, so it has no plural form and it is preceded only by its definite singular article.

Il buio
The dark

Etymology: dark in Italian comes from the Latin word burius, “dark red”.

how do you say buio in italian - starry night sky in the city

Its pronunciation is similar to boo-ee-oh. Be careful not to add a -w sound to the final -o. Italian vowel sounds are clean.

Mio fratello più piccolo ha paura del buio.
My younger brother is afraid of the dark.

C’era buio nella stanza, così ho acceso la luce.
It was dark in the room, so I turned on the light.

Quando fa buio, gli animali escono per cacciare.
When it gets dark, the animals come out to hunt.


In poetry and literary works, you can also use oscurità to translate dark in Italian. This is a feminine noun and again, it is uncountable. You will not often find it in everyday speech.

The dark

woman afraid of the dark

Its pronunciation is similar to oh-skoo-ree-tah. Be sure to stress the final -a!

Il corridoio era avvolto dall’oscurità.
The corridor was shrouded in darkness.

L’oscurità era molto fitta all’interno della foresta.
The darkness was very thick inside the forest.

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Scuro is the most common translation for dark in Italian when it’s intended as an adjective. All adjectives in Italian agree with the number and the gender of the noun they modify, so you will find four variations of scuro.

Dark (m, sing)

Dark (m, pl)

Dark (f, sing)

Dark (f, pl)


Its pronunciation is similar to skoo-roh.

scuro - how do you say dark in italian - dark cityscape at night

La maglietta è di un bel colore blu scuro.
The T-shirt is of a beautiful dark blue color.

Hai una faccia così scura! È successo qualcosa?
You have such a dark face! Did something happen?

Ho molti nei scuri sulla schiena.
I have many dark moles on my back.

Le foglie di questa pianta sono molto scure.
The leaves of this plant are very dark.


Buio can also be used as an adjective in Italian. It has a more threatening meaning than scuro.

Dark (m, sing)

Dark (m, pl)

Dark (f, sing)

Dark (f, pl)

Era una notte buia e tempestosa…
It was a dark and stormy night

La caverna era buia e umida.
The cave was dark and humid.

The shadow

La notte
The night

La tenebra
The darkness

For example, you could say…

Intravedo un’ombra oltre il vetro opaco della porta.
I can glimpse a shadow behind the opaque glass of the door.

Un tuono rimbombò nel cuore della notte.
Thunder rumbled in the middle of the night.

L’edificio era ammantato nelle tenebre.
The building was shrouded in darkness.

lightning hitting a tree at night

Buio pesto
Pitch black

Cioccolato fondente
Dark chocolate

Umorismo nero
Dark humor

Capelli scuri
Dark hair

Occhio nero
Dark eye

Pelle scura
Dark skin

For example, you could say…

Non mi piace il cioccolato fondente, preferisco quello al latte.
I don’t like dark chocolate; I prefer milk chocolate.

Marco ha occhi e capelli scuri.
Marco has dark eyes and dark hair.

Vincenzo ha un occhio nero per aver ricevuto un pugno.
Vincenzo has a black eye from having received a punch.

C’è buio pesto qua dentro. Accendi la luce!
It’s pitch black in here. Turn on the light!

man coming home from work when it's night outside - how do you say dark in italian

Sayings with dark in Italian

Let’s wrap up our lesson on how to say dark in Italian with a couple of sayings that feature this word.

Al buio tutti i gatti sono bigi
“All cats are gray in the dark”

Meaning: Just as most things look gray at night because of insufficient lighting, it’s hard to distinguish between truth and falsehood when information is lacking.

Chi nasce di gatta piglia i topi al buio
“Those who are born of a female catches mice in the dark”

Meaning: Left to their own devices, people will follow their instincts.

cat chasing mouse - how do you say dark in italian

That’s the end of our lesson on how to say dark in Italian!

What next?

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

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