Learn Italian with Squid Game

The 2021 craze. To date it’s the most viewed Netflix series ever, and its popularity is anything but waning. Good chances are you’ve watched it already and liked it enough to anxiously wait for the second season, so how about combining business with pleasure… and learn Italian with Squid Game?

In this lesson, we’ll take a look at some concepts and words that are prominent in the series and we’ll see what their translations are in Italian along with many native Italian audio clips and example sentences.

Of course, there are spoilers ahead, so beware.

Let’s learn Italian with Squid Game!

Learn Italian with Squid Game: Introductions

Let’s start from the title itself. How do you say squid in Italian?

Il calamaro
The squid

squid - calamaro - learn italian with squid game

A popular object from the series that people are trying to replicate in real life is the Squid Game business card (biglietto da visita). You know, the one with the three shapes on it.

Il biglietto da visita
The business card

Let’s keep to learn Italian with Squid Game.

Seong Gi-hun, the series’ protagonist, is handed this card as his life is falling apart (cadendo a pezzi). He’s poor (povero), he’s wretched, he lives in poverty (povertà).

And his mother is sick (malata).

Cadere a pezzi
To fall apart
Literally: To fall to pieces

La vita di Gi-hun sta cadendo a pezzi.
Gi-hun’s life is falling apart.

Sick (masculine)

Poor (masculine)

La povertà, l’indigenza

Vivere nella povertà, vivere nell’indigenza
To live in poverty

Milioni di persone vivono in povertà assoluta.
Millions of people live in absolute poverty.

On this business card, we can find a…


Il cerchio
The circle

Il triangolo
The triangle

Il quadrato
The square

And a phone number too (numero di telefono) that Gi-hun ends up calling.

Il numero di telefono
The phone number

Hai già chiamato questo numero di telefono?
Have you already called this phone number?

Before you continue to learn Italian with Squid Game, read this Trivia box. You will find another one later on with interesting information about the series.

You know a funny but not so funny trivia fact about the phone number you can see on this business card? This number actually belongs to a South Korean woman who for this reason was harassed with thousands of calls.

Tempestare di telefonate
To harass someone with phone calls

Tempestare comes from tempesta, meaning storm.

La tempesta
The storm

L’ho tempestato di telefonate, ma non mi ha mai risposto.
I bombarded him with calls, but he never picked up.

shapes squid game

Even if we don’t know the name of the man who played the Korean Ddakji game with Gi-hun at the subway station, we can tell that our man was slapped (schiaffeggiato) dozens of times before finally winning the game.

So, let’s continue to learn Italian with Squid Game and see what the Italian translation for slap is.

We have three choices.

Lo schiaffo
The slap (standard)

Il ceffone, la sberla
The slap (informal)

Most commonly you will translate slap with schiaffo. If you want to go for a more informal language register, however, either choose ceffone or sberla.

It’s interesting to notice the difference in how Italian conveys the action of slapping someone.

Dare uno schiaffo
To slap someone
Literally: To give someone a slap

Schiaffeggiare qualcuno
To slap someone

The first translation is much more common than the other. More often than not, Italian will give a slap to someone, instead of slapping them directly.

Let’s continue to learn Italian with Squid Game. We’re about to enter the game itself. Are you ready?

Learn Italian with Squid Game: Challenges

456 players compete for a staggering 28m prize contained within a transparent piggy bank (maialino salvadanaio) hanging from the ceiling of their dorm (dormitorio).

Il giocatore
The player

Il montepremi
The jackpot, the prize money
Literally: Mountprizes
(Compound word made up of monte + premi)

I giocatori si contendono il montepremi.
The players compete for the prize money.

Il maialino salvadanaio
The piggy bank

Il dormitorio
The dorm

piggy bank - maialino salvadanaio
Il maialino salvadanaio
The piggy bank

All the players are dressed in a dark turquoise uniform with their number sewn on top.

La divisa
The uniform

Indosso sempre la divisa quando sono a lavoro.
I always wear a uniform when I’m at work.

Verde ottanio
Dark turquoise

Who thought that we could find such interesting words as we learn Italian with Squid Game? Ottanio is a very particular color in Italian.

But let’s move on.

The players start chatting (chiacchierare) to each other and our protagonist has a nasty encounter with a bully (bullo).

To chat

Gli studenti chiacchierano allegramente.
The students are happily chatting.

Il bullo
The bully

Il bullo sceglie le sue vittime tra i più deboli.
The bully chooses their victims among the weakest.

dark turquoise suit - learn italian with squid game
Divisa verde ottanio
Dark turquoise uniform

The people supervising the players also wear uniforms. They wear black masks (maschere) and strong pink suits (divise di colore rosa acceso).

La maschera
The mask

L’uomo indossava una maschera.
The man wore a mask.

Rosa acceso
Strong pink

dark pink suit - squid game
Rosa acceso
Strong pink

And then the first game’s on.

Let’s dive into the Squid Game challenges – don’t worry, it will be harmless! – and continue to learn Italian with Squid Game.

Learn Italian with Squid Game: Red light, green light

The first game in the series is a gruesome version of Red light, green light.

The Italian name for this popular children’s game is actually un, due, tre, stella!. One, two, three, star!

Un, due, tre, stella!
Red light, green light
Literally: One, two, three, star!

In Squid Game, the “tagger” is a mechanical doll (bambola meccanica) with unsettling eyes (occhi inquietanti).

Bambola meccanica
Red light, green light
Literally: One, two, three, star!

Learn Italian with Squid Game: Dalgona (honeycomb toffee)

Honeycomb toffee is primarily made of sugar (zucchero), and Dalgona is a popular version of it in South Korea.

Lo zucchero

Although it’s still sold nowadays, Dalgona candy was a very popular street food (cibo di strada) in South Korea in the 70’s and 80’s and children would try to cut out the shapes that the vendor would stamp onto the candy.

Squid Game trivia
How Gi-hun wins the game (by licking the candy) is actually the way the director would win the game during his childhood.

Il cibo di strada
The street food

Hai mai assaggiato il cibo di strada coreano?
Have you ever tasted Korean street food?

La caramella
The candy

Of course, the unluckiest shape to cut out here is…

The umbrella

street food - cibo di strada
Cibo di strada
Street food

Learn Italian with Squid Game: Tug-of-war

Let’s continue to learn Italian with Squid Game. We are now at the third round.

The Italian translation for tug-of-war is tiro alla fune, where fune is rope.

Il tiro alla fune
Literally: The pull at the rope

La fune
The rope

For this game, the players competing in Squid Game divide up in teams (squadre).

La squadra
The team

And the team who loses is pushed over the edge (orlo) of a suspended platform (piattaforma sospesa).

The edge

Piattaforma sospesa
Suspended platform

Learn Italian with Squid Game: Marbles

Fourth challenge. Let’s continue to learn Italian with Squid Game.

Marbles (biglie) is a quite game.


It’s in this moment, however, that truth (verità) comes out and you see the real face (faccia) of the people you thought were your friends (amici).

La verità
The truth

La faccia
The face

The friend

If it’s a matter of life and death (una questione di vita e di morte), even a friend can betray you (tradirti).

To betray

Il tradimento
To betrayal

Una questione di vita e di morte
A matter of life and death

marbles - biglie

Learn Italian with Squid Game: Stepping on glass

Stepping on transparent (trasparente) glass panels can be a traumatic experience (esperienza traumatica) as is, even without a 50% chance that the glass (vetro) might break.

Il vetro


L’esperienza traumatica
The traumatic experience

Il pannello di vetro
The glass panel

Glass can be tempered (temperato), so as to withstand stronger blows.

Il vetro temperato
Tempered glass

learn italian with squid game - glass - vetro

What next?

Now that we’ve seen how you can learn Italian with Squid Game, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these other free Italian resources:

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