Venetian Language

“Na ƚengua soƚa no ƚa xé mai bastansa.”
One language is never enough.

Italy is divided up into many, many dialects, one of which is the noble and awesome Venetian dialect.  The Florentines will tell you that Venetian is among the ugliest dialects, but this is simply not true.  It is the language of a globetrotting, cosmopolitan seafaring people who adopted words and concepts from everywhere they went.  Below are some things I’ve gleaned from various websites and dictionaries.  This is a work in progress.

Vocabulary Separate from Vernacular Italian

Venetian English Italian Venetian word origin
uncò, ‘ncò, incò, ancò, ancùo, incoi today oggi from Latin hunc + hodie
apotèca pharmacy farmacia from Ancient Greek ἀποθήκη (apothḗkē)
trincàr to drink bere from German trinken “to drink”
armelìn apricot albicocca from Latin armenīnus
astiàr to bore dare noia, seccare from Gothic 𐌷𐌰𐌹𐍆𐍃𐍄haifsts meaning “contest”
bagìgi peanuts arachidi from Arabic habb-ajiz
becàr to be spicy hot essere piccante from Italian beccare, literally “to peck”
bìgolo spaghetti vermicello, spaghetti from Latin (bom)byculus
bisàto, bisàta eel anguilla from Latin bestia “beast”, compare also Italian biscia, a kind of snake
bìssa, bìsso snake serpente from Latin bestia “beast”, compare also Ital. biscia, a kind of snake
bìsi peas piselli related to the Italian word
isarda, risardola lizard lucertola from Latin lacertus, same origin as English lizard
trar via to throw tirare local cognate of Italian tirare
calìgo fog nebbia foschia from Latin caligo
cantón corner/side angolo/parte from Latin cantus
catàr find + take trovare + prendere from Latin adcaptare
caréga, trón chair sedia from Latin cathedra and thronus (borrowings from Greek)
ciao hello, goodbye ciao from Venetian s-ciao “slave”, from Medieval Latin sclavus
ciapàr to catch, to take prendere from Latin capere
co when (non-interr.) quando from Latin cum
copàr to kill uccidere from Old Italian accoppare, originally “to behead”
carpéta miniskirt minigonna compare English carpet
còtoła skirt sottana from Latin cotta, “coat, dress”
fanèla T-shirt maglietta borrowing from Greek
gòto, bicèr drinking glass bicchiere from Latin guttus, “cruet”
insìa exit uscita from Latin in + exita
mi I io from Latin me (“me”, accusative case); Italian io is derived from the Latin nominative form ego
massa too much troppo from Greek μᾶζα (mâza)
morsegàr, smorsegàr to bite mordere derverbal derivative, from Latin morsus “bitten”, compare Italian morsicare
mustaci, mostaci moustaches baffi from Greek μουστάκι (moustaki)
munìn, gato, gatìn cat gatto perhaps onomatopoeic, from the sound of a cat’s meow
meda big sheaf grosso covone from messemietere, compare English meadow
musso donkey asino from Latin almutia “horses eye binders (cap)” (compare Provençal almussa, French aumusse)
nòtoła, notol, barbastrìo, signàpoła bat pipistrello derived from not “night” (compare Italian notte)
pantegàna rat ratto from Slovene podgana
pinciàr beat, cheat, sexual intercourse imbrogliare, superare in gara, amplesso from French pincer (compare English pinch)
pirón fork forchetta from Greek πιρούνι (piroúni)
pisalet dandelion tarassaco from French pissenlit
plao far truant marinare scuola from German blau machen
pomo/pón apple mela from Latin pomus
sbregàr to break, to shred strappare from Gothic 𐌱𐍂𐌹𐌺𐌰𐌽 (brikan), related to English to break and German brechen
schèi money denaro soldi from German Scheidemünze
saltapaiusc grasshopper cavalletta from salta “hop” + paiusc “grass” (Italian paglia)
sghiràt, schirata, skirata squirrel scoiattolo Related to Italian word, probably from Greek σκίουρος (skíouros)
sgnapa spirit from grapes, brandy grappa acquavite from German Schnaps
sgorlàr, scorlàr to shake scuotere from Latin ex + crollare
sina rail rotaia from German Schiene
straco tired stanco from Lombard strak
strica line, streak, stroke, strip linea, striscia from the proto-Germanic root *strik, related to English streak, and stroke (of a pen). Example: Tirar na strica “to draw a line”.
strucàr to press premere, schiacciare from proto-Germanic *þrukjaną (‘to press, crowd’) through the Gothic or Langobardic language, related to Middle English thrucchen (“to push, rush”), German drücken (‘to press’), Swedish trycka. Example: Struca un tasto / boton “Strike any key / Press any button”.
supiàr, subiàr, sficiàr, sifolàr to whistle fischiare from Latin sub + flare, compare French siffler
tòr su to pick up raccogliere from Latin tollere
técia, téia, tegia pan pentola from Latin tecula
tosàt(o) (toxato), fio lad, boy ragazzo from Italian tosare, “to cut someone’s hair”
puto, putèło, putełeto, butèl lad, boy ragazzo from Latin puerputus
matelot lad, boy ragazzo perhaps from French matelot, “sailor”
vaca cow mucca, vacca from Latin vacca
s-ciop, s-ciòpo, s-ciopàr, s-ciopón gun fucile-scoppiare from Latin scloppum (onomatopoeic)
troi track path sentiero from Latin trahere, “to draw, pull”, compare English track
zavariàr to worry preoccuparsi, vaneggiare from Latin variare


Words from Venetian to English

Venetian source English loanword Notes
arsenàl arsenal via Italian; from Arabic دار الصناعة dār al-ṣināʻah “house of manufacture, factory”
artichioco / articiòco artichoke from Arabic الخرشوف al-kharshūf
balòta ballot ball used in Venetian elections; cf. English to “black-ball”
casìn casino “little house”; adopted in Italianized form
s’ciào ciao cognate with Italian schiavo “slave”; used originally in Venetian to mean “your servant”, “at your service”
contrabando contraband
gazéta gazette a small Venetian coin; from the phrase gazeta de la novità “a pennysworth of news”
g(h)èto ghetto hypothesized as from either (bor)ghetto “little city”, or from the Venetian term for “foundry”
ziro giro “circle, turn, spin”; adopted in Italianized form; from the name of the bank Banco del Ziro
gnòco, -chi gnocchi lump, bump, gnocchi; from Germanic *knokk– ‘knuckle, joint’
góndoła gondola possibly related to dondolare “to rock”
laguna lagoon from Latin lacus “lake”
lazaréto Lazaretto, lazaret a quarantine station for maritime travellers, ultimately from the Biblical Lazarus of Bethany, who was raised from the dead
Lido lido from Latin litus “shore”
lò(t)to lotto from Germanic *lot– “destiny, fate”
malvasìa malmsey ultimately from the name Monemvasia, a small Greek island off the Peloponnese once owned by the Venetian Republic and a source of strong, sweet white wine from Greece and the eastern Mediterranean
marzapàn marzipan from the name for the porcelain container in which marzipan was transported, from Arabic موثبان mawthabān, or from Mataban in the Bay of Bengal where these were made (these are some of several proposed etymologies for the English word)
Negropónte Negroponte Greek island called Euboea or Evvia in the Aegean Sea
Montenégro Montenegro “black mountain”; country on the Eastern side of the Adriatic Sea
Pantalón pantaloon a character in the Commedia dell’arte
pestàcio / pistàcio pistachio ultimately from Middle Persian *pistak
quaranténa quarantine “forty”, referring to the number of days a ship with plague victims must remain isolated
regata regatta originally “fight, contest”
scampo, -i scampi from Greek κάμπη “caterpillar”, lit. “curved (animal)”
zechìn sequin Venetian gold ducat; from Arabic سكّة sikkah “coin, minting die”
Zanni zany


Categories: Language, Uncategorized, Venice

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