How do you say RIVER in Italian?

How exactly do you say river in Italian?

In this lesson, we will take a look at the different words you can use to talk about a river in Italian and you will even learn a few expressions featuring this word. Read on to learn them all!

Fiume
River

Let’s start! Iniziamo!


How do you say river in Italian?

Fiume

Fiume is how you translate river into Italian.

Il fiume
The river

flowing river with some fish

It is a masculine noun, so it uses the articles il (definite, the river), and un (indefinite, a river).

Un fiume
A river

Dei fiumi
Some rivers

Il fiume
The river

I fiumi
The rivers

Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

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Its pronunciation is similar to fee-oo-meh and it comes from the Latin word fluĕre, “to flow”. Make sure the final -e has a pure sound, as Italian vowel sounds are clean!

Qual è il fiume più lungo del mondo?
What is the longest river in the world?

Il Nilo è lungo più di 6.000 chilometri.
The Nile is more than 6,000 kilometers long.

La foce del fiume si estende per 2.000 chilometri quadrati.
The mouth of the river covers 2,000 square kilometers.

Domenica siamo andati a pescare al fiume.
On Sunday we went fishing on the river.

fish that's about to take the bait

Torrente? Ruscello?

Depending on its size, a river may not be always translated as fiume.

Torrente and ruscello translate “creek” or “stream” and are used to describe small rivers. They both are masculine words.

Il torrente
The creek, the stream

Il ruscello
The creek, the stream

The difference between the two is that a torrente depends on seasonal rains. It is very steep and it can dry up completely during the summer months. A ruscello, however, is a small river with calm waters.


Mouths

There are two kinds of river mouths in Italian:

  • foce a delta (delta mouth)
  • foce a estuario (estuary mouth)

Foce a delta
Delta mouth

Foce a estuario
Estuary mouth

You have a foce a delta when the mouth has a triangular shape, with multiple little streams dividing the main flow of water. The Po river, the longest river in Italy, has a delta. You have a foce a estuario when the river flows directly into the sea.

drawing depicting the cycle of water

Idioms with the word for river in Italian

There are a number of popular idiomatic expressions featuring the word for river in Italian. Among these are:

  • versare un fiume di lacrime (to shed a river of tears)
  • scorrere a fiumi (to flow freely)
  • un fiume / una fiumana di gente (a flood of people)

For example, you could say…

La birra scorreva a fiumi alla festa.
Beer was flowing freely at the party.

Quando il semaforo diventa verde, un fiume di gente attraversa la strada.
When the traffic light turns green, a flood of people crosses the street.

And that’s it, now you know how to say river in Italian!


What next?

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