How do you say EXPENSIVE in Italian?

How exactly do you say expensive in Italian?

In this lesson, we will take a look at the different words you can use to talk about being expensive in Italian. Read on to learn all you need to know!


Let’s get started! Iniziamo!

Expensive in Italian


Caro is how you translate expensive into Italian. Let’s listen to how this adjective is pronounced.

Its pronunciation is similar to cah-row and it comes from the Latin word carus, meaning “precious, loved”. Make sure the final -o has a clean sound, because Italian vowel sounds are clean!

Caro is also used to translate “dear”.

Expensive, dear

man surprised by his empty wallet

Like all other adjectives in Italian, caro needs to match the gender and number of the noun.


If a bracelet is expensive, you would say caro because bracelet, braccialetto, is a masculine noun in Italian.

Likewise, you will say cara, if you’re talking about a necklace, collana, which is a feminine noun.

Plural nouns behave the same way: if you want to describe some expensive hats (cappelli, masculine plural), use cari. If you’re talking about some expensive shoes (scarpe, feminine plural), use care instead.

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For example, you could say…

Ho comprato un vaso molto caro.
I bought a very expensive vase.

I negozi sul Corso vendono abiti molto cari.
The stores on the Corso sell very expensive clothes.

Queste sedie sono molto care.
These shoes are very expensive.

Trovo questa collana troppo cara.
I find this necklace too expensive.

some expensive gadgets

Costoso is another way to translate expensive in Italian. It literally means “that, which costs”.


For example, you could say…

Luca sorprende Marta con un regalo costoso.
Luca surprises Marta with an expensive gift.

Le verdure fresche sono molto costose in inverno.
Fresh vegetables are very expensive in the winter.

An informal translation for expensive in Italian is also salato, which literally means “salty”.

Ho pagato una multa salata per eccesso di velocità.
I paid a hefty fine for speeding.

As we’ve already said, caro also translates “dear”.

Caro Alessandro, è da molto che non ci sentiamo. Come stai?
Dear Alessandro, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard from you. How are you doing?

Common expressions featuring expensive in Italian

There are some common idiomatic expressions featuring the word for expensive in Italian. Among them, you can find…

  • pagare a caro prezzo, to pay a high price for sth
  • tenersi caro, to hold sth or sb dear
  • vendere cara la pelle, to fight tooth and nail, to fight for your life
  • pagarla cara, to pay for it
  • perdere una persona cara, to lose a dear one

For example, you could say…

Questa la pagherai cara!
You will pay dearly for this one!

Paolo ha pagato a caro prezzo la sua arroganza.
Paul paid dearly for his arrogance.

very angry businessman

And that’s the end of our lesson on how to say expensive in Italian!

What next?

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

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