How do you say OLD in Italian?

How exactly do you say old in Italian?

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


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Old in Italian


Vecchio is how you translate old into Italian when you refer to inanimate objects. Let’s listen to how this adjective is pronounced.

Its pronunciation is similar to VEHk-kyoh and it comes from the Latin word vetulus, “old” or “elderly”. Make sure the final -o has a clean sound, because Italian vowel sounds are clean!

Also, don’t use vecchio to describe people. That’s rude!


old and polished car

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


If a boot is cold, you would say vecchio because boot, stivale, is a masculine noun in Italian.

Likewise, you will say vecchia, if you’re talking about a shoe, scarpa, which is a feminine noun.

Plural nouns behave the same way: if you want to describe some old sweaters (maglioni, masculine plural), use vecchi. If you’re talking about some old photos (foto, feminine plural), use vecchie instead.

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For example, you could say…

Ho trovato un libro molto vecchio in soffitta.
I found a very old book in the attic.

C’è una vecchia fotografia appesa al muro.
There is an old photograph hanging on the wall.

Sullo scaffale ci sono alcune vecchie riviste.
There are some old magazines on the shelf.

Questi stivali sono vecchi.
These boots are old.

a pair of mutton boots

If something is very old in a negative way, you can use the adjective obsoleto, “obsolete” or “outdated”.


Anziano is how you translate old in Italian when referring to people. It can also translate into English as “elderly”.

Using vecchio to describe an old man is considered rude.

Old (people), elderly

an elderly couple walking

For example, you could say…

Un anziano signore si è offerto di aiutarmi.
An elderly man offered to help.

L’anziana signora camminava con un bastone.
The elderly woman walked with a cane.

Gli anziani possono avere difficoltà a comprendere le nuove tecnologie.
The elderly may have difficulty understanding new technologies.

Idioms with vecchio in Italian

There is a number of common idioms featuring the word for old in Italian. Some of them are…

  • gallina vecchia fa buon brodo (the old bull knows best)
  • un vecchio amico (an old friend)
  • pane vecchio (stale bread)
  • vecchia volpe (wily old fox)
  • vecchio come il cucco (as old as dirt)
two old friends smiling

For example, you could say…

Michele è un vecchio amico d’infanzia.
Michele is an old childhood friend.

Quel cellulare è vecchio come il cucco. Dovresti comprarne uno nuovo.
That cell phone is as old as dirt. You should buy a new one.

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

What next?

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

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