How do you say POOR in Italian?

How exactly do you say poor in Italian?

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


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Poor in Italian


Povero is how you translate poor into Italian (as a synonym for “not rich“). Let’s listen to how this adjective is pronounced.

Its pronunciation is similar to poh-VEH-roh and it comes from the Latin word pauper, “poor, needy”. Make sure the final -o has a clean sound, because Italian vowel sounds are clean!


man finding a money trap

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


If a man is poor, you would say povero because man, uomo, is a masculine noun in Italian.

Likewise, you will say povera, if you’re talking about dinner, cena, which is a feminine noun.

Plural nouns behave the same way: if you want to describe some poor men (uomini, masculine plural), use poveri. If you’re talking about some poor women (donne, feminine plural), use povere instead.

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For example, you could say…

È rimasto povero nonostante fosse un gran lavoratore.
He remained poor despite being a hard worker.

Siamo poveri, ma siamo felici.
We are poor, but we are happy.

Le persone povere vivono in condizioni difficili.
Poor people live in difficult conditions.

La mia famiglia è molto povera.
My family is very poor.

poor family with nothing to eat for dinner

Poor can also be translated as scarso, meaning “bad, mediocre”.

Luca ha voti molto scarsi in matematica.
Luca has very poor grades in math.

If you want to say to get poor in Italian, use either the reflexive verb impoverirsi or the expression diventare povero. Use impoverire to translate “to impoverish”.

Claudio è diventato povero giocando d’azzardo.
Claudio became poor by gambling.

La crisi economica ha impoverito le famiglie.
The economic crisis has impoverished families.

Povertà, poverty, is derived from povero and is a feminine noun.


Milioni di persone vivono sotto la soglia di povertà.
Millions of people live below the poverty line.

poor man beside a rich man

Idioms with povero in Italian

There is a number of common idioms associated with the word for poor in Italian. Some of them are…

  • povero in canna (dirt poor)
  • povero Cristo (poor devil)
  • povero diavolo (poor devil)
  • povero me! (oh dear! poor me!)
  • cibo povero (poor man’s meal)

For example, you could say…

Povero me! Faccio sempre gli stessi errori!
Poor me! I always make the same mistakes!

I miei parenti sono tutti poveri in canna.
My relatives are all dirt poor.

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

What next?

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

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