Robert writes informative articles about language and culture.
How Do You Say Goodbye in Italian?
If you are visiting Italy, there are a few essential words and expressions you should learn in order to get to know the locals and get the most out of your trip.
If you are meeting or being introduced to an Italian person you should know how to say hello, as well as how to politely say goodbye when the time comes. In fact, one of the most essential words to know after "hello" is "goodbye" because it sums up the tone and mood of your interaction with the other person, and whether you will see each other again.
However, the way you say goodbye varies depending on the context, social situation, and who you are speaking to. Understanding when to use a certain word is just as important to having the right vocabulary.
This is a brief tutorial that explains how to say goodbye in Italian.
Goodbye in Italian
Just like in English, Italian has many ways to say goodbye, depending on whether you are in a formal or informal setting.
The Most Common Ways to Say Hello in Italian
Here are some of the main words you should learn:
- arriverderci / arrivederla - goodbye
- ciao - bye / goodbye
- addio - farewell / goodbye
- buongiorno - goodbye (during day time)
- buona sera - good evening (only in late evening or at night)
- a presto - see you soon
- a domani - see you tomorrow
- a dopo - see you later
- a fra poco - see you in a bit
- salve - farewell
- buona notte - sleep well / goodnight
- fanculo! - F-off! (Very rude. Do not use unless you want to get in a fight.)
- sparisci! - Disappear! Get Lost! Beat it! (Very rude.)
- buona fortuna - Good luck!
- in bocca al lupo - Good luck! (Sort of equivalent to "break a leg")
- A risentirci/risentirla - Until we talk again. A formal (especially if using resentirla) way to end a meeting or a telephone conversation.
Arriverderci / Arrivederla - Goodbye
Arrivederci or Arrivederla literally means "till we see each other again" but it is used in the same way and context as "goodbye". It both a formal and informal expression in the sense that no one will consider you too stiff or pretentious if you use it with friends or in a more formal meeting such as a business lunch. When in doubt, use arriverderci or arrivederla.
Arrivederci is more informal and is used among people who are friends or relatives, and people of your own age or social status. You would use the more formal "arrivederla" when saying goodbye to someone you do not know socially or is older than you or outranks you socially. For example, you would say arrivederla to a doctor you have only dealt with professionally, but arrivederci to someone you have just shared a meal with at the local pizzeria.
Ciao is a very versatile word. Depending on the context it can mean "hi" or "bye." It is less formal than "arrivederci" but can be used interchangeably.
Addio literally means "to God" and comes from an old expression commending the person who is leaving to the care and protection of God. Overtime, the expression is no longer used literally but instead is used as the equivalent of farewell. This expression is not used that often to say goodbye but it is not obsolete. You would not use this word, except maybe in an ironic way, if your friend was just going to the store and was going to be back in half an hour; you could however use it to say goodbye if they were leaving on a long journey and you did not expect to see them for a long time.
Buongiorno / Buona sera
Buon giorno and buona sera are ways of saying goodbye depending on the time of the day. You would say "buon giorno" during the day and "buona sera" during the late evening or at night.
Both of these expressions are somewhat formal and can also be used to say hello, depending on the context. In other words, you can say "buona sera" if you are first meeting someone during the evening, but you can use the same expression to also say goodbye when you are leaving.
A presto means "(see you) soon" and is used to say goodbye when you not only expect to see the other person soon, but hope they come back shortly. In other words, this way of saying goodbye implies, come back soon because I will miss you or I look forward to seeing you again.
A domani means "see you tomorrow" and is used to say goodbye when you expect to see the other person the next day. It conveys that your interaction will continue tomorrow.
A Fra Poco
A fra poco is an expression that means "(see you) in a bit" and is used to say goodbye when you expect to see that person again very soon, usually the same day.
Salve can be used both as a greeting to say hello and to say goodbye, depending on the context. It is a formal geeting/farewell and you would not use it among friends or relatives.
Buona notte means "good night" and is used to say goodbye to someone when they are going to go to bed soon after. It has a more restrictive use than "buona sera" which means good evening.
Fanculo! is an extremely rude and insulting way to say goodbye. It is the Italian equivalent of "F-off!" or "Go F Yourself!" You should never use this unless you want to be a complete jerk and get into a verbal or physical altercation.
Even if someone says this to you, you should avoid escalating the situation by saying it back to them.
Buona fortuna literally means good luck. You would use this expression when saying goodbye to someone who is leaving in order to do something difficult or important. So for example, you would not use this phrase to say goodbye if they are going to buy milk at the store because this is a simple routine activity, but you could use it if your friend is leaving in order climb a mountain, or meet with the real estate agent to negotiate a price reduction in the house that they want to buy.
In Bocca al Lupo!
This is a difficult phrase to translate into English. It is an idiomatic way to say "good luck" and would be used to say goodbye when the other person is leaving to do something or is going to attempt something.
"In bocca al lupo" literally means "in the mouth of the wolf" in the sense of getting devoured by one. But when someone says this they are not wishing you will meet an untimely end; it has exactly the opposite meaning. The closest English equivalent is "break a leg" which comes from the world of the theater, where it was considered bad luck for actors to wish each other good luck. So to get around this superstition, the custom arose of saying "break a leg" on the theory that if you wished someone ill fortune the opposite would happen. The same reverse logic applies to the use of this phrase: if you say "in bocca al lupo" you are wishing the other person good luck and a positive outcome to their endeavor or journey.
In bocca al lupo can be used to say goodbye to someone, particularly when they are leaving for the purpose of going to do something that requires skill, effort or good luck. For example, if your friend is leaving your company to go study for exam, you could say goodbye and wish him or her good luck at the same time by saying "in bocca all lupo!"
A Risentirci / A Risentirla
A risentirci literally means "until we hear speak again." It is a somewhat formal expression, especially if you use the "risentirla" form. You would use this phrase when ending a business meeting or telephone call.
Although the expression is formal, it can be given an informal tone by context or vocal inflection, depending on whom you are speaking with. You could, for example, say goodbye by saying "a risentirci" to a friend, in which case the meaning would be more equivalent to "talk to you later" or "talk to you soon."
|Italian Word for Goodbye||English Equivalent||When to Use It|
arriverderci / arrivederla
A bit formal but very commonly used.
Bye / Goodbye
Formal. Not used very much.
See you soon.
See you tomorrow.
Somewhat formal. Used when you expect to see the person the next day.
See you later / so long
Colloquial / Informal
a fra poco
See you in a bit.
Colloquial / Informal
Farewell / Goodebye
Formal and somewhat pretentious.
Good night / Sleep well.
Used to say goodbye when the person is going to sleep soon after.
F-off or F-you!
Very rude fighting words. Do not use.
Rude. Avoid using.
Used to say goodbye when someone is leaving in order to do something.
in bocca al lupo!
Good luck! or Break a leg!
Same as "buon fortuna" but more idiomatic.
a risentirci / a risentirla
till we speak again
Formal way to end a conversation or telephone call.
Robert is fluently bilingual in English and Italian. He writes tutorials aimed at teaching Italian expressions in the correct context.
See also his tutorial on how to say hello in Italian.
© 2019 Robert P
Robert P (author) from Canada on March 12, 2019:
Grazie mille! @John Bolt
John Bolt from Portsmouth, UK on March 12, 2019:
Bravo! Molto Bene! Ci vidiamo dopo!
(Great work, love it!)