Italian expressions with body parts

In this lesson you’ll learn the most common and interesting Italian expressions with body parts.

Let’s start!

Italian expressions with body parts using avere

These Italian expressions with body parts are used daily.

Avere polso

It means to be decisive, to be able to lead. Polso is wrist.

Avere polso
To keep a firm hand
Literally: to have wrist

Bisogna avere polso per dirigere un’azienda.
You need a firm hand to manage a business.

Avere fegato

It means to be brave. Fegato is the liver.

Avere fegato
To have guts
Literally: to have liver

Non ho abbastanza fegato per provare a fare bungee-jumping.
I don’t have enough guts to try bungee jumping.

Italian expressions with body parts - balls of steel

Avere cervello

It means to be intelligent. Cervello is the brain.

Avere cervello
To have a brain
Literally: to have brain

Se lui avesse cervello, ti chiederebbe scusa.
If he had a brain, he would apologize to you.

Avere orecchio

It means to be good at melodies and rhythms. Orecchio is the ear.

Avere orecchio
To have an ear
Literally: to have ear

Ho orecchio per le lingue straniere.
I have an ear for foreign languages.

Avere stomaco

It means to tolerate unpleasant things. Stomaco is the stomach.

Avere stomaco
To tolerate unpleasant things
Literally: to have stomach

Avrai lo stomaco di provare un uovo centenario?
Will you have the stomach to taste a century egg?

Italian expressions with body parts - stomaco di provare

Avere naso

It means to be intuitive. Naso is the nose.

Avere naso
To be intuitive, to have head for
Literally: to have nose

Quell’uomo non ha naso per gli affari.
That man has no head for business.

Avere cuore

It means to be kind. Cuore is the heart.

Avere cuore
To have the heart
Literally: to have heart

Non ho avuto cuore di dirglielo.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that.

Avere culo

It means to be lucky. Culo is a vulgar term for the buttocks.

Avere culo
To be lucky
Literally: to have ass

Che culo che hai!
How lucky you are!

Italian expressions featuring the eyes

Essere un pugno in un occhio

It means to be an eyesore.

Getting punched in the eye hurts badly. When something is a punch in the eye, it means that it’s aesthetically very ugly and doesn’t blend in with the environment.

Essere un pugno in un occhio
To be an eyesore
Literally: to be a punch in the eye

Quell’edificio è un pugno in un occhio. Andrebbe demolito.
That building is an eyesore. It should be demolished.

In un batter d’occhio

It means in the blink of an eye and is used in the same manner as the English idiom.

In un batter d’occhio
In the blink of an eye
Literally: in a blink of eye

Sparì in un batter d’occhio.
He disappeared in the blink of an eye.

Italian expressions with the throat and the neck

Avere il cuore in gola

It means to have one’s heart in one’s mouth.

Avere il cuore in gola
To have one’s heart in one’s mouth
Literally: to have the heart in throat

Ho corso fino a qui. Ora ho il cuore in gola.
I ran all the way over here. My heart’s in my mouth now.

Italian expressions with body parts - cuore in gola

Avere l’acqua alla gola

It means to be in dire straits.

Author’s note: Personally, I’ve always found this idiom terrifying because I can’t swim. Kudos to whoever came up with this nightmare material.

Avere l’acqua alla gola
To be in dire straits
Literally: to have the water at the throat

Ho sempre l’acqua alla gola, non ne posso più.
I’m always in dire straits, I can’t take this anymore.

Stare con il fiato sul collo

It means to breathe down someone’s neck.

Stare con il fiato sul collo
To breathe down someone’s neck
Literally: to stay with the breath on the neck

Il mio capo mi sta sempre con il fiato sul collo.
My boss is always breathing down my neck.

Italian expressions with the stomach

Avere un buco nello stomaco

It means to be starving.

Avere un buco nello stomaco
To be starving
Literally: to have a hole in the stomach

Ho un buco nello stomaco. Quando è pronta la cena?
I’m starving. When is dinner ready?

Italian expressions with body parts - buco nello stomaco

Avere un nodo allo stomaco

It means to have a pit in one’s stomach.

Avere un nodo allo stomaco
To be anxious, to have a pit in one’s stomach
Literally: to have a knot in the stomach

Quando sono in ansia, ho un bruttissimo nodo allo stomaco.
When I’m anxious, I have a very bad pit in my stomach.

What next?

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