Milan Slang

Milan Slang: Speak like a real local!

In Italy there are lots of dialects: there are regional ones and there could even be two neighboring cities that speak two different dialects and could have a hard time understanding each other. In Milan there is a very typical accent, the dialect is going out of fashion and it is spoken mainly by grandparents. There are, actually, a lot of “Milan slang” expressions used mostly amongst young people.

Some of the following Milan slang words are quite normal while some others are really weird. Here you can discover some of the most famous slang expressions between locals listed alphabetically:


This word means “father” in many parts of Italy and it is commonly used in Tuscany by all the children. Also in Milan young people say it a lot, but for unknown reasons, here its slang meaning is completely different. In fact, if someone calls you “babbo”, they are telling that you are a loser!


It is literally feminine for “beautiful”, but in Milan this word is not only used for girls. In fact, it is a slang way young people use to greet each other and/or to express agreement. So even if you are a male, don’t worry if when you meet an italian friend he shakes your hand saying “bella!”: he’s not trying to seduce you, he’s just saying hello (probably)!


This expression means “wasting time in activities of little or no importance”. For example, “ho cazzeggiato tutto il pomeriggio su facebook” means “I wasted all afternoon on facebook”.

Di Brutto:

Literally “in an ugly way”, means “very much”. For example “ieri mi sono divertito di brutto” (literally “yesterday I had fun in an ugly way”) means in fact “yesterday I had lots of fun”.  It is considered sort of a street slang expression, so saying for example “ti amo di brutto” shall not be considered the most romantic way of saying “I love you a lot”. Other common Milan slang expressions for saying “very much” are “a nastro” (“as tape”), “a manetta” (“as throttle”), “a bestia” (“as beast”).

In bocca al lupo:

Italians are very superstitious. For example, openly wishing someone “buona fortuna” (“good luck”) is actually thought to bring them bad luck so don’t do it. In order to overcome this, a few strange expressions have been created. The most common is “in bocca al lupo”, literally meaning “in the mouth of the wolf”.

So if somebody tells you “in bocca al lupo per il tuo esame” (“in the mouth of the wolf for your exam”), he’s wishing you good luck for your exam and, for the scaramanzia to work out, you have to answer “crepi!” (“may he die!”). We know it sounds like nonsense, but this is how these things work everywhere in Italy (not just in Milan slang).


Literally, “to lemon”, it refers to the act of french-kissing (kissing with the tongue). Therefore, a “limone” (lemon) is a french kiss. This slang word is very common and used all over Italy… You will probably even hear a song during your nights-out here called “limonare”!


Literally “fear”, is commonly used by Milan youngsters as an adjective to express enthusiasm for something. For example “stasera c’è un concerto paura” doesn’t mean that tonight there is a satanic concert, but an awesome one. Sometimes you can also use “da paura” or “pauroso” (“frightening”).


It literally it means something like “to get yourself back” as in the process of recovering the health of body and/or mind after a hard situation, like a shock, an injury or maybe just several drinks and a crazy night out. A variation of this term, with exactly the same meaning, is “riprendersi”.


Short for “sbattimento”, it refers to anything that prevents a Milanese from enjoying life lightheartedly, and also defines the very condition of uneasiness that it causes. Hence the most common expression of displeasure in Milan, which you’ll hear every time something stresses, worries or scares a local: “che sbatti!

Tanta roba:

Literally means “lots of stuff” and, much like “paura”, it is used to express enthusiasm for something. An example would be “quel film è tanta roba” (literally “that movie is lots of stuff”), which actually means “that movie rocks!”.


“Top” in Milan is a one-word sentence used to express approval for something. Sometimes it replaces “ok”, mostly in the mobile chats. In fact, every real Milanese must have the emoticon TOP in their most recently used Whatsapp icons!


A “zarro” is a person, or the stereotype of a class of people, mainly from the suburbs or out of town, who tends to be loud and straightforward. “Zarri” are normally seen by other people as gross, harassing and ignorant. The term can also be used as an adjective for things that relate to the zarro lifestyle, such as pimped-out cars and scooters, some dance or techno songs, certain clothes etc.

Other common terms to refer to a zarro are “tamarro”, “truzzo” and  “tabbozzo”.


Literally “uncle”, is a slang word to address somebody, pretty much like “mate” in english. Originally used by the zarri (see “Zarro”), this expression has now spread amongst many young people of all kinds. If somebody calls you his uncle, it means he’s relating to you in the most informal possible way, like if you have been friends for a long time.

A lot of people use it every other word: the risk (often happens to Milanese guys) is to say “zio” to your girlfriend or to your brother or sister. It could be kind of awkward!

Now that you know a bit of Milan slang, you may want to learn also a very typical italian habit: speaking with hands! Take a look at the article SPEAK ITALIAN… WITH YOUR HANDS!

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