Into the Wolf's Mouth! 4 Ways to Say Good Luck in Italian (2022)

Into the Wolf's Mouth! 4 Ways to Say Good Luck in Italian (1)

By Into the Wolf's Mouth! 4 Ways to Say Good Luck in Italian (2)Stevie D. Last updated:

Making lots of Italian friends isn’t difficult.

It can be as simple as saying, “Good luck!”

So, in this post, I’m going to help your cause by giving you four ways you can encourage any native Italian speaker.

Throw these terms their way, and you’ll surely charm them into being your buddy for life.

Contents

  • 4 Friendly Ways to Wish Someone Good Luck in Italian
    • 1. Buona fortuna!(Good luck!)
      • What It Means
      • Good Luck vs. Bad Luck: The Unlucky Italian Number
    • 2. In bocca al lupo!(Into the wolf’s mouth!)
      • What It Means
      • Where It Comes From
      • Pronunciation Tips
    • 3. In culo alla balena!(In the whale’s bottom!)
      • What It Means
      • Where It Comes From
    • 4. Auguri!(Best wishes!)
      • What It Means

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

4 Friendly Ways to Wish Someone Good Luck in Italian

1. Buona fortuna!(Good luck!)

What It Means

“Buona fortuna” is the literal translation of “good luck.” It’s the equivalent of the Spanish “Buena suerte” and the French “Bonne chance.”

The Italian “buon” or “buona” (good) is often used when you want to greet someone or wish someone well.

For example:

“Buon viaggio!” (Have a nice trip!)

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“Buon appetito!” (Have a good meal!)

“Buon compleanno!” (Happy birthday!)

“Buona notte!” (Goodnight!)

“Fortuna” is the Italian word for “luck.”

Good Luck vs. Bad Luck: The Unlucky Italian Number

Speaking of luck, did you know that while the rest of the world cowers at the number 13 (and the bad luck it supposedly brings), your Italian friends actually think 13 is a lucky number? It’s the number 17 that sets their spines tingling.

Why?

Well, the number 17, when written in Roman numerals, is XVII. That looks innocent enough, but rearrange the letters and you’ll get VIXI. And no, that’s not an Italian luxury brand. It’s Latin for “I have lived.”

“Lived,” as in the past tense. Meaning, your life is over. Meaning, you’re dead.

That’s why there’s sometimes no row 17 on Alitalia planes and no room 17 or 17th floor in Italian hotels.

You can call it superstition, but it seems that Italy’s experience with the number 17 is not so hunky-dory. Take football, for example. Do you remember that gut-wrenching, divinely-awful penalty loss against Brazil in the ’94 World Cup final?

(Video) How to Say "Good Luck" in Italian | Italian Lessons

Right! That happened on July… the 17th.

If you need a refresher, check out this recap from FIFATV.

2. In bocca al lupo!(Into the wolf’s mouth!)

What It Means

Many believe that wishing someone good luck directly will only jinx the situation and bring about the complete opposite: bad luck. (Lady Luck, it seems, is fiendishly fickle and can only be coaxed, not commanded.)

So instead, the phrase “In bocca al lupo” is used by many Italians to wish a friend good luck. Maybe they’re about to go in for an interview or take an exam. You can offer the phrase “In bocca al lupo,” which is akin to the English “break a leg.” Your friend is supposed to answer “Crepi il lupo” (may the wolf die) or just “Crepi!” for short.

Where It Comes From

Nobody’s really sure how the use of “In bocca al lupo” got started. There are a couple of theories regarding the origin of the phrase, but just like “break a leg,” we can’t really pinpoint it with complete certainty.

Supposedly, “In bocca al lupo” was used to send off hunters going on an expedition. “Lupo” (wolf) here represents any danger, challenge or difficulty one may meet along the way. Yes, in life, you’ll find yourself in the wolf’s mouth, but by responding, “Crepi!” (die), you’re saying that you’ll overcome whatever challenge lies ahead of you.

Another traditional explanation for this Italian phrase harks back to the very origins of Rome. It’s said that Romulus and Remus, the mythological twin brothers who founded Rome, were brought up by a she-wolf. They were originally left to die on a riverbank, but a wolf nurtured and even suckled them back to health.

In this narrative, the wolf is of a benevolent nature, unlike in the previous account where it represents danger or an obstacle. If we assume the phrase comes from the story of Romulus and Remus, then being in the wolf’s mouth is a good thing, as wolves carry their pups in their mouths. In other words, the safest place for a helpless pup is in the mouth of its mother, where it’s protected from all the wiles of the world.

The response “Crepi!” throws a bit of a wrench into this explanation, however, because you wouldn’t want the wolf to die if it represented safety. Perhaps, if this second origin story is true, the reply phrase evolved centuries later when the rest of the story had been forgotten.

In any case, you can use “In bocca al lupo” to wish your friend good luck.

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Pronunciation Tips

A note on pronunciation: Italians love to contract sounds, and “In bocca al lupo” is a good example of this.

The sequential “As” in “bocca” and “al” and the sequential “Ls” in “al” and “lupo” allow the phrase to be pronounced as “in bocalupo.” (This is essentially what you’ll hear from fast-talking native speakers.)

In the same tradition, the response, “Crepi il lupo” (may the wolf die), with its series of “Is” in “crepi” and “il” and “Ls” in “il” and “lupo,” can simply sound like “crepilupo” in conversation.

3. In culo alla balena!(In the whale’s bottom!)

What It Means

If you think “Buona fortuna” is too dry and “In bocca al lupo” is too common, you might want to throw your friend something a little bit cruder, with more than a hint of vulgarity.

Needless to say, don’t use this one on strangers or people you’re not close to. The expression assumes a certain kind of familiarity with the person you wish it on—especially when you consider that the standard reply for “In culo alla balena” (in the whale’s bottom) is “Speriamo che non caghi” (let’s hope it doesn’t poop). So yeah, that just happened.

Where It Comes From

Nobody really knows where this phrase comes from. Some say it first came from the mouths of sailors.

Others are quick to point out the Biblical story of Jonah, who was on a boat that got caught in a terrible storm. The long and short of it is that the boat’s crew determined that Jonah carried bad luck and if they wanted to survive those gale force winds, they had to throw him overboard. So that’s exactly what they did! And the sea became calm again.

Meanwhile, Jonah was quickly swallowed by a whale and lived inside of it for three days until he was delivered to dry land.

While we can’t really ascertain this as the source of the expression, it does have some parallels—like the concept of bad luck and the whale.

Besides, English speakers shouldn’t get too bent out of shape over the origins of “In culo alla balena” when they have idioms like “it’s raining cats and dogs” and when sayings like “fat chance” and “slim chance” both mean the same thing.

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4. Auguri!(Best wishes!)

What It Means

“Auguri!” can be a catch-all term for when you want to wish someone well. It comes from the verb “augurare,” which means “to wish.”

For example, if your friend has a birthday, you can greet him with “Auguri!”

For Christmas or Easter, you can also use “Auguri!” It’s short for “Auguri di Buon Natale!” (Merry Christmas!) and “Auguri di Buona Pasqua!” (Happy Easter!).

Simply say “Auguri!” and the context of the occasion will be taken into consideration. Whether it’s a new job, a new baby or a new house, your good wishes will be noted.

Now you have four different ways to say “good luck” in Italian and win over those new friends.

The best way to master these phrases is to hear them being used by real Italian native speakers. That way, you can commit them to memory and ensure you’re using them correctly.

If no native speakers are around, then look out for these phrases in Italian media (TV shows, movies, podcasts and so forth). You can also use language learning programs like FluentU that show Italian phrases in context. In FluentU’s case, you can see and learn words and expressions from authentic Italian videos equipped with interactive subtitles, flashcards and quizzes.

Use the phrases as often as you want, and start building genuine bonds with native Italian speakers.

In bocca al lupo!

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

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FAQs

How do you respond to good luck in Italian? ›

But that's not all because the person you're wishing good luck to must immediately reply Crepi il lupo! or simply Crepi! meaning “Death to the wolf!” It's pronounced kre-pee al loo-poh and is an essential part of the good luck ritual.

How do you say good luck in Italian? ›

If you want to say “good luck” in Italian, you would usually say “buona fortuna.” To be a bit less formal, you would instead say “in boca al lupo.” While it literally means “into the wolf's mouth,” think of it like the English expression “break a leg.” Both sound pretty extreme to non-native speakers, but they're ...

How do you respond to Buona fortuna? ›

To complete the good luck ritual, the person, who has been told that, has to answer 'Crepi il lupo' which means 'die the wolf'. The short version of the answer is 'Crepi', the lupo is implied.

How do you say wish me luck in Italian? ›

The most common way of wishing good luck in Italian is buona fortuna.

How do I respond to Ciao? ›

Of course, when you're introduced to someone, you need to know how to reply. People usually simply say piacere (nice to meet you), whether in formal or informal situations. Piacere – Piacere.

What is the response to In Bocca al Lupo? ›

In bocca al lupo – “In the mouth of the wolf”

Some Italians think wishing people luck in the good old fashioned way by saying “good luck” brings in fact bad luck. They therefore say “in bocca al lupo” or “in the mouth of the wolf” to which you should respond with “crepi il lupo” or “the wolf shall die”. Crazy, I know!

What is a word for good luck? ›

In this page you can discover 29 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for good-luck, like: best wishes, godspeed, good-fortune, bonne chance (French), shalom (Hebrew), pax vobiscum (Latin), luckiness, lucky-break, god-bless-you, affluence and midas-touch.

What does ciao mean in Luca? ›

Ciao = Hello and Bye.

What do you reply to Grazi? ›

The response to grazie that you're most likely to use or hear is prego (you're welcome), or you could say di niente (not at all). For greater emphasis you can use s'immagini or si figuri in the formal form, and figurati informally (don't mention it).

What is a popular Italian saying? ›

Mamma mia is a common Italian saying

This Italian saying is an exclamation usually implying surprise or impatience, similar to the phrase “my goodness” in English.

What does Crepi mean in Italian? ›

(IPA: [ˈkrɛːpi il ˈluːpo]; "may the wolf die") or, more commonly, simply crepi! ("may it die"). It has been proposed, for example by animal welfare activists, to instead reply with viva il lupo! (IPA: [viva il lu:po]; “may the wolf live”), but this is not a standard or common reply.

What is the best wish in Italian? ›

Tantissimi auguri! – “Best wishes!”

What are good Italian wishes? ›

Contents
  • Basic Ways to Say Congratulations in Italian.
  • Complimenti! Bravo/a! Congratulazioni! Felicitazioni!
  • Congratulations in Italian: Well Wishes for the Future.
  • Tanta felicità! Cento di questi giorni! Auguri! Auguroni!
9 Mar 2022

Why do Italians always say Prego? ›

You are welcome

The “grazie”-“prego” combination is a must in the Italian language. It basically is an automatism and it is considered the cornerstone of basic politeness. If someone says “grazie” to you and you don't reply “prego,” you might be considered rude, so watch out for that!

What does ciao Mi Bella? ›

Ciao bella is an informal Italian expression literally meaning “goodbye (or hello), beautiful.”

Can I say ciao Bella? ›

You can use 'ciao Bella' when staying hello or goodbye, the meaning is interchangeable.

Is ciao Bella a compliment? ›

Ciao bella! Complimenting Someone's Look. Italians can be very particular about looks, and they'll definitely notice a person's hairstyle, tan, and clothing choices and comment about it. This can be a genuine compliment or just a way to—subtly—point out if something is off… But don't worry.

What is the meaning of Bocca? ›

Italian, mouth, from Latin bucca cheek, mouth.

Why Is In Bocca al Lupo good luck? ›

The expression originates from the hunting world, where hunters wished in bocca al lupo to their comrades so that they would not end up being eaten by a wolf!

What do you reply to all the best? ›

I'd say And you or You too or The same to you.

What is the luckiest word? ›

fortuitous, timely, fortunate, auspicious, opportune, propitious, providential, adventitious They are now desperate for a lucky break. fortuitous unlucky, untimely.

How do I say good luck to my boyfriend? ›

Wishes
  • “Best of luck at your race tomorrow! ...
  • “Good luck today! ...
  • “Good luck and good wishes.”
  • “All the luck in the world, all wished for you.”
  • “Good luck, you! ...
  • “Love and luck to you on your first day at work. ...
  • “Sending good vibes to take with you to your treatment.”
  • “I know how important this is for you.
16 Jul 2018

What does Ragazzi mean in Luca? ›

Giulia says Ragazzi and it means “Boys” or “Guys” Signora Marsigliese says Tutti and it means “Everyone”

What does Silencio Bruno mean in Luca? ›

The expression 'Silencio Bruno! ' translates from Spanish to 'Silence Bruno! ' It comes from a Disney Pixar movie, Luca. The characters in the film use the phrase as a way of silencing their inner voice when they have to take a risk.

What is a Bruno in Luca? ›

In Luca, Bruno becomes a stand-in character for the internal voice that tells you you can't do something, personifying Luca's doubts. This internal fear propels the story of Luca forward, with Alberto confidently telling Luca: “Don't listen to stupid Bruno.” and “Silenzio, Bruno!” during their adventures.

What is Grazie tutti? ›

English translation of Grazie a tutti in context

TRANSLATION. thank you all.

Why do Italians answer the phone with Prego? ›

Pronto literally means “ready”. So, when we answer the phone, we let the person on the other end know that we are ready to talk. This is why we say pronto to answer the phone.

Why do Italians say Grazia? ›

Grazie is thanks in Italian

The most popular and straightforward way to say thanks in Italian is a hearty grazie. This Italian word is a catch-all that covers both formal and informal situations with just about any audience.

How do Italian express their love? ›

There are two very different ways to say “I love you” in Italian: ti voglio bene and ti amo. This is different from English where we have only one way to say “I love you”, so it's important to understand the difference. Ti voglio bene could be translated as “I wish you well” or “I want what's good for you”.

What is a beautiful Italian word? ›

1. Bello. /bèl·lo/ Perhaps the most straightforward and recognised translation for beautiful in Italian is bello (masculine). Even those who aren't learning Italian have probably encountered the cliché phrase Ciao bello! / Ciao bella!

What is the hardest Italian word to say? ›

  • pèsca. feminine. (n) peach. Le pesche provengono originariamente dalla Cina, ma ora sono coltivate in tutto il mondo. ...
  • ghiaccio. masculine. (n) ice. ...
  • pésca. feminine. (n) fishing. ...
  • cinque. masculine. (n) five. ...
  • già (a) already.
  • scherzo. masculine. (n) prank.
  • chiacchierare. (v) chat.
  • segno. masculine. (n) sign.

What does Fache brute mean in Italian? ›

In Italian it stands for dumb and dumber. and the girl from the neighborhood with the reputation is a facia-bruta, puttana or a skifosa. IT faccia brutta = ugly face.

What does Aho mean in Italian? ›

Ahó – This roughly translates to “Hey” and is heard all over town. This informal exclamation/sound is used to catch someone's attention and is often drawn out to sound like 'Aooooooo'. Bella!

What does Boto mean in Italian? ›

[ˈbɔtto ] masculine noun. (di mortaretti) thud. (spari) rattle.

Do Italians say Buona fortuna? ›

The literal translation of “good luck” into Italian is buona fortuna. Unfortunately, sometimes wishing a person good luck in this way is actually considered bad luck!

How do you respond to Prego in Italian? ›

Italian Word Prego: You're Welcome, Come in, Please, and More

Why do Italians say Prego? ›

It can be used to say “you're welcome” in Italian, to give permission, or to ask to repeat something. All these meanings of prego are somehow linked to the idea of wishing for something to happen. Or, if we want to try a more literal translation: “[I] pray [that you… / that this…]”.

Why do Italians answer the phone Prego? ›

You are welcome

The “grazie”-“prego” combination is a must in the Italian language. It basically is an automatism and it is considered the cornerstone of basic politeness. If someone says “grazie” to you and you don't reply “prego,” you might be considered rude, so watch out for that!

Why do Italians always say Alora? ›

Allora (so, then, well) is one of those filler words that's highly useful when thinking of what to say in Italian. It buys you a little time and tells the listener you're thinking things over, especially when used by itself, or to introduce a sentence.

Is it rude to say ciao in Italy? ›

Now, it is used throughout the globe as a salutation a greeting, both in writing and speech. In Italy, however, it is still a very informal greeting. To use it with a stranger or an elder is an easy and unknowing way to offend.

Do you say Prego after Grazie? ›

The response to grazie that you're most likely to use or hear is prego (you're welcome), or you could say di niente (not at all). For greater emphasis you can use s'immagini or si figuri in the formal form, and figurati informally (don't mention it).

What is Grazie tutti? ›

English translation of Grazie a tutti in context

TRANSLATION. thank you all.

What does Pregor mean? ›

please / you're welcome , after you , don't mention it. - “Grazie mille” – “prego” “Thank you so much” – “You're welcome”

What is Prego short for? ›

PREGO means "Pregnant."

What is Grazie Prego? ›

If you've just said Grazie to someone, they may reply with Prego literally meaning You're welcome or My pleasure.

Is ciao flirting Bella? ›

Ciao bella is a friendly, sometimes flirtatious way to address a singular woman or a friendly way to greet a close female friend. Ciao is an old Italian dialectical word that comes from a Medieval Latin word, perhaps surprisingly, meaning “slave.” It can mean “hello” or “goodbye,” depending on the context.

Why do Italians say Grazia? ›

Grazie is thanks in Italian

The most popular and straightforward way to say thanks in Italian is a hearty grazie. This Italian word is a catch-all that covers both formal and informal situations with just about any audience.

What does Prego mean in Sicilian? ›

The most common translation is 'you're welcome': prego is what you say when someone else thanks you. – Grazie mille! – Prego. – Thanks very much!

What does bedda mean in Italian? ›

"Bedda" is Sicilian dialect for the Italian "bella" meaning beautiful.

Is it rude to ask for the check in Italy? ›

Asking for for the check

Unless you are eating in a touristic restaurant, the waiter/waitress will not come to you asking if he/she can bring the bill. You will have to speak up and ask directly for it! Indeed, in Italy it is consider rude “rushing” the guests with the payment.

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