Tattoo Ideas: Italian Words and Quotes

Updated on February 20, 2019
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I have thirteen tattoos and think they're all pretty cool (and definitely don't qualify as "bad-quality").

Strength/force in Italian.
Strength/force in Italian.

Italian tattoos come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including the Italian cross, the Italian horn, and the green, white, and red Italian flag (including a number of variations of it, like the flag condensed in an outline of Italy or in an outline of stars). I've even seen a partially completed sleeve dedicated solely to Italian food; it features a plate of macaroni and meatballs, a jug of wine, and a cannoli.

Luckily, unlike Latin (which is an extinct language), or Hebrew, or Arabic (both very complex languages that use specific character sets in lieu of letters, requiring an exact knowledge of calligraphy), or Gaelic (which has numerous different dialects), Italian is a fairly easy language to translate, and most words that exist in English can be translated into Italian without much difficulty.

Getting the Italian Spelling and Translation Right

However, be extra careful to make sure you get the Italian spelling correct. Reverse two letters and your beautiful, inspirational tatt becomes nonsensica and silly. I once saw an episode of Miami Ink on the TLC channel where the customer wanted "per sempre" tattooed on his arm, which is Italian for "forever." It wasn't the tattoo artist's fault, because the customer had designed the lettering for the tatt himself, but when it was finished it read "pre sempre" instead. It's only one letter off but unfortunately means nothing in Italian.

Exercise caution when it comes to the popular Italian phrase "life is beautiful" which many people, including Lindsay Lohan, have been getting recently. "La vita e bella" is the correct translation, but some people have been getting "la bella vita" which translates as "the beautiful life" and is used in Italy to describe someone who is living a life of wealth and excess, throwing posh parties, and spending extravagant amounts of money.

As with any tattoo that is done in a language that's not your own, make sure you do your homework. Double-check your translation with several sources. A native speaker is your best bet, someone who speaks Italian as their first language and English as their second. If a native speaker is not available to you, your next best bet is a Italian scholar who has studied the language extensively. Last but not least, there are several online translators who offer their services for free. Although the automated translators can be very useful, keep in mind that it is important to ensure the translation is correct by either using several different online translators or confirming its accuracy with native speakers on an Italian forum or message board.

Italian Sayings and Phrases to Get You Started

Esse nufesso qui dice male di macaruni. (Who speaks badly of macaroni is a fool.)

Quest' la vita e qui il gioire; un' ora di abbrezzo e poi moire. (This is life and this is joy; an hour of embracing and then to die.)

L'amore domina senza regole. (Love rules without rules.)

Chi più sa, meno crede. (The more one knows, the less one believes.)

Finchè c'è vita c'è speranza. (Where there's life, there's hope.)

L'amore e cieco. (Love is blind.)

Meglio un giorno da leone che cento da pecora. (Better one day as a lion than a hundred as a sheep.)

Smuovere mare e monti. (To move heaven and earth.)

Tale il padre, tale il figlio. (Like father, like son.)

Tutto è permesso in guerra ed in amore. (All is fair in war and love.)

Val più la pratica della grammatica. (Experience is more important than theory.)

Vivi e lascia vivere. (Live and let live.)

Tattoos of Italian Words and Phrases

Click thumbnail to view full-size
"a beautiful life""believe, trust, dream""do not harm and have no fear""girl""have faith""have faith""love""one step closer""sister""strength and honor""strength/force""strength of the tiger""the simple truth""truth"
"a beautiful life"
"a beautiful life"
"believe, trust, dream"
"believe, trust, dream"
"do not harm and have no fear"
"do not harm and have no fear"
"girl"
"girl"
"have faith"
"have faith"
"have faith"
"have faith"
"love"
"love"
"one step closer"
"one step closer"
"sister"
"sister"
"strength and honor"
"strength and honor"
"strength/force"
"strength/force"
"strength of the tiger"
"strength of the tiger"
"the simple truth"
"the simple truth"
"truth"
"truth"
Lindsay Lohan's Italian tattoo meaning "the beautiful life" was supposed to say "life is beautiful"
Lindsay Lohan's Italian tattoo meaning "the beautiful life" was supposed to say "life is beautiful"

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    • profile image

      Lucone 

      2 months ago

      You are welcome, glad to help. You can choose "Ciò che semini raccogli" or "Quello che semini raccogli". There is also a similar saying from the bible: "chi semina vento, raccoglie tempesta" which means "he who sows wind shall reap tempest". They are both commonly used as proverbial phrases.

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      Mmonti 

      2 months ago

      Sorry, I meant “You reap what you sow”

    • profile image

      Mmonti 

      2 months ago

      Thank you for the response. How about “What you reap is what you sow” Would there be a proper translation for that in Italian?

    • profile image

      Lucone 

      2 months ago

      @Mmonti You are right but that's the actual meaning. I can't think of a better way to express it. Maybe you'd like the latin "Ad astra per aspera" (through adversities to the stars)

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      Mmonti 

      2 months ago

      Hello, I am looking to get a tattoo in Italian with the english saying of

      "Strength through adversity", however it translates to "Forza attraverso le avversità". It doesn't roll off the tongue well in my opinion. What would be the proper way to write/explain this meaning in Italian.

      Thank you

    • profile image

      Lucone 

      3 months ago

      @Danielle

      I can't see any spelling. The literal translation is "indistruttibile". If you tell me what you've found and what you want your tattoo to say, maybe I can help you more.

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      Danielle 

      3 months ago

      Hoping to get a tattoo in Italian fir ''unbreakable'. Can you confirm the correct spelling?

    • profile image

      Lucone 

      4 months ago

      @ Brad

      Litteraly it would be: "Vivo la vita un giorno alla volta"

      I'd suggest: "Vivo la vita giorno per giorno" or "Vivo la vita un giorno dopo l'altro" (more like I live life day by day but imho it sounds better).

    • profile image

      Brad 

      4 months ago

      How do you say "i live life one day at a time" in italian.

      Thank you

    • profile image

      Lucone 

      8 months ago

      @Victoria

      My dark beautiful life (Why?) could be "La mia vita (è) oscura e bella" but it sounds really awful... What do you mean? That your life is beautiful but you also have a dark side (sadness or evil?). A more poetic way would be: "Tenebra e bellezza è la mia vita" My life is beauty and darkness.

    • profile image

      Lucone 

      8 months ago

      @bxxcixx

      Yes, they essentially are synonyms, but there is a slight difference. I'll try to explain: gentilezza today means more kindness of the heart. You are very kind = sei molto gentile. (It probably reminds you of gentle in english, gentilis/e = noble in latin). Cortesia is maybe a kindness that comes from good manners, it's a sort of chivalry (it reminds you the court, from latin cors/cortis). You can but it's unusual to say "sei cortese" meaning kind. But it depends on the contest.

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      Victoria 

      8 months ago

      How are you the different ways to translate " my dark beautiful life " in Italian or latin

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      bxxcixx 

      8 months ago

      thank you for your response :)

      it also suggests the word cortesia.

      Do gentilezza and cortesia mean the same thing ?

    • profile image

      Lucone 

      9 months ago

      @ bxxcixx

      Hi, Gentilezza is correct! If you want I can check the other words google suggested, just write them here.

      @ salamonnancy3@gmail.com

      Always do what is right: "fa sempre ciò che è giusto".

      To give you an example: Spike Lee's movie "Do the right thing" in italian is translated "Fa la cosa giusta"

      "Fa sempre il tuo dovere" litteraly translates "Always do your duty".

      What you wrote for "getting old is a bitch" makes no sense.

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      bxxcixx 

      9 months ago

      what’s the italian word for “kindness” ? If i google it i get a few different words . Is it gentilezza ?

      Thank you and I love your post and thanks for the effort and time you put in this post and all the responses xx

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      diane leach 

      16 months ago

      I Would love a saying for a mother who lost her adult daughter? Murdered at 25. Something that is strong..a mother or an observer would say ? When they see her or a mother would say herself..on how she misses her daughter with every heartbeat. Is thete an italian saying? Thank you.

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      salamonnancy3@gmail.com 

      17 months ago

      my father has always said in italian "always do what is right". Would you give me the correct spelling? I think it is "Fi Sempre Lo Do Vere".

      He also frequently said in italian "getting old is a bitch" which I think is "La vi chia ec coronia".

      Thank you

    • profile image

      Lucone 

      19 months ago

      @Susan

      Of course:

      1) (lei) vive con forza e coraggio.

      I wouldn't add "lei" in the beginning, it sounds better without it.

      2) Quale il padre, tale la figlia

      or you could say: Tale padre, tale figlia.

      It's more usual with father and son. It's actually a translation from from the latin motto: qualis pater, talis filius.

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      Susan 

      20 months ago

      I’d like to get one of these in Italian. Can you translate?

      She lives with strength and courage

      -or-

      Like father, like daughter

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      Lucone 

      21 months ago

      @Suzanne poole

      It depends on what you mean. It could be:

      -Per causa tua / A causa tua (becouse of you something happened = you made it happen; cause and effect)

      -Per merito tuo / Grazie a te (becouse of you... = thanks to you)

      -Per te (you are the purpose: I did something becouse of you = becouse I care for you = for you) It's a cause but a a final cause.

      If you need to know more, just tell me.

    • profile image

      Suzanne poole 

      21 months ago

      How do you write "Because Of You" correctly in Italian.

    • profile image

      Lucone 

      22 months ago

      @Danon

      No, it would be a mistake! Comminare (una pena) is mostly a legal term. It means to inflict, to deliver a punishment.

      You could translate: "CAmmina con coraggio" which is imperative (if you mean it in an exortative way), while camminare is infinite. The latter would sound more like "Walking with courage" in italian.

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      Danon 

      23 months ago

      Is this the correct form in Italian "comminare con coraggio " for this quote "walk with courage" ?

    • profile image

      Dannique 

      2 years ago

      Thank you, Lucone!

    • profile image

      Lucone 

      2 years ago

      @Dannique

      "Più forti insieme"

      "Uniti siamo più forti" = united we are stronger

      Together = insieme

      Maybe you'd like: "L'unione fa la forza" which means "Unity makes strength" or Eendracht maakt macht.

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      Dannique 

      2 years ago

      Hey! I'm looking for the correct spelling/grammar for the combination 'Stronger together', or 'together' in that context. For the Dutchies the saying 'Samen Sterker'. Thanks! I have a few versions already via translators, but I would like as many options as possible..

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      Lucone 

      2 years ago

      @Becky Well the standard italian language is one thing. What your aunt call "Dialects" are actually different (culturally significant) languages that have their own rules and vocabulary. For instance in the Godfather movies you hear people speaking sicilian "dialect", not italian.

      But this doesn't affect you. "Run deep" can not be litterally translated in italian, so you probably found a periphrasis to express the same meaning.

      It could be:

      "Amore e Fedeltà sono legami più profondi del sangue"

      (Litterally: Love and loyalty are deeper bonds than blood)

      "Amore e fedeltà uniscono più del sangue"

      (Love and loyalty unite (bond) more than blood)

      etc.

      Post what you found and I'll tell you if it's correct.

    • profile image

      Becky 

      2 years ago

      Ok, so I have been reading up on getting an tattoo in Italian. My family is Italian but only my aunts speak it as I lost my father. So I wanted to get "Love and loyalty runs deeper than blood" and every site gives me something different. My aunt said there are different dialects? Anyone know where to look to make sure it's correct?

    • profile image

      Lucone 

      2 years ago

      @ Dana

      A decent translation would be: "E' coraggiosa e bellissima"

      Litterally: "E' senza paura e bellissima"

    • profile image

      Dana 

      2 years ago

      What is the correct translation of 'she is fearless and beautiful'

    • profile image

      Lucone 

      2 years ago

      @Ashmelissa

      If you mean it in an exhortative way then:

      Love life! = Ama la vita!

    • profile image

      Lucone 

      2 years ago

      @Shannon: "Can anyine translate love conquers all i have seen lamore conquista tutto but not sure if its right"

      They forgot the apostrophe: Lo + amore = l'amore (2 different words)

      so the correct translation would be:

      L'amore conquista tutto

      You might also be interested in the original latin version:

      amor vincit omnia (Virgilio)

    • profile image

      Shannon 

      2 years ago

      Can anyine translate love conquers all i have seen lamore conquista tutto but not sure if its right

    • profile image

      AshMelissa 

      2 years ago

      How do you say "love life"?

    • profile image

      Marco 

      5 years ago

      I'm an Italian mother tongue and the half of those traslation are awful...do not tattoo any of those word before you check it.Maybe the traslation is quite good but the real meaning is far by a simple translation done litterally.Sorry for my english but I'm Italian.bye

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      Gianni 

      5 years ago

      @Muriel: I love you daddy = "Ti amo papà" or "Papà, sei la mia vita" (literally= "dad, you're my life")

      @Juliano: "La mia famiglia è la mia vita"

    • profile image

      Juliano 

      5 years ago

      Hello,

      What is the correct form of: "My family, my life" : "Mia famiglia, mia vita" or "La mia famiglia, la mia vita"?

    • profile image

      Muriel 

      5 years ago

      Can someone tell me how I would say I love you daddy in Italian? I just lost my Dsd and I'm looking for the correct phrasing for a tattoo

    • profile image

      Gianni 

      5 years ago

      @Lorenzo:

      Family first = La famiglia prima di tutto

    • profile image

      lorenzo 

      5 years ago

      something short and strong for FAMILLY FIRST im getting it tattoo on my forearm (inside )

    • profile image

      Gianni 

      5 years ago

      @Jessica:

      Felicità = happiness

      Inner strenght = forza interiore or la forza interiore

    • profile image

      jessica12 

      5 years ago

      is felicità happiness

      and inner strength La forza interiore

      ??

    • profile image

      Gianni 

      5 years ago

      @Jessica: inner happiness is "La felicità interiore"; be happy is "Sii felice"; be strong is "Sii forte" or "Fatti forza" or "Resisti!" (literally: resist!")

    • profile image

      jessica12 

      6 years ago

      or what would be 'be happy' and 'be strong'

    • profile image

      jessica12 

      6 years ago

      what would be 'happiness' and 'strength' as in inner strength

    • profile image

      Gianni 

      6 years ago

      @Laura: "Questa la vita e questo è gioia: un'ora di abbracciare poi morire" or the one used above ^ in this site: "Quest' la vita e qui il gioire, un' ora di abbrezzo e poi moire"?

      Never heard of this in italian, maybe you mean: "Nell'abbraccio di un'ora, la gioia della vita. Poi la morte", quite poetical I have to say.

      @Jessica12: inner strenght is "La forza interiore"

      @capelli "how to say "unspeakable truth" or "unspoken truth" in italian? please help :("

      The unspeakable truth could be "Le verità indicibili", literally "The unspeakable truths", I think the plural is better for the sense of what you mean.

      @Krissy "I took Italian for 2 years and this is the best I came up with although I think it's off/incorrect "Lei si amera se stessa prima."

      No, it would be "Amerà prima se stessa"

      I am italian.

    • profile image

      tcomberiati 

      6 years ago

      @Julie how do you say "my beautiful family" I have looked everywhere but they are all different! Thanks

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      bobaz 

      6 years ago

      ala- means mind freedom

      harry- abbi fede, sii forte

      anthony- vivi la tua vita

      krissy- amerà sè stessa anzitutto

      bella- yes, is bella vita

    • profile image

      ala 

      6 years ago

      hej, what does it mean Mente Liberta?

      Tnx:)

    • profile image

      harry 

      6 years ago

      how to say "have faith,be strong" in italian?

    • profile image

      Ivelina 

      6 years ago

      How to say "always believe" in italian not refer to a religion? thank you

    • profile image

      anthony 

      6 years ago

      how would u say live your life in Italian im trying to get a tattoo of it. please and thank u for helping...

    • profile image

      Krissy 

      6 years ago

      I would like to get a tattoo about loving myself first before anyone else. How do you translate "she will love herself first." I took Italian for 2 years and this is the best I came up with although I think it's off/incorrect "Lei si amera se stessa prima." I used futuro because loving myself is something that will come with time--learning process. Thoughts please (: thank you!

    • profile image

      bella 

      6 years ago

      so my name is bella, and i was thinking of getting a tattoo that just simply says 'beautiful life' in Italian. would it be 'bella vita' ? cause i would like a two word phrase with includes my name.. (:

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      Greg 

      6 years ago

      Ok Julie, can you help me out and tell me what, "I'd rather live than live forever" is in Italian? Thanks! And yes, I hope these people are asking multiple different sources for a translation and not just trusting one person.

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      Julie 

      6 years ago

      Good Lord...half of those tattooes are WRONG! O_O I can't believe people got a tattoo without asking a real Italian first. I'm Italian, born and bred and I can assure you that 100% of the translations in the first couple of replies are wrong.

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      capelli 

      6 years ago

      how to say "unspeakable truth" or "unspoken truth" in italian? please help :(

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      jessica12 

      6 years ago

      i want something along the lines of 'strength' as in 'inner strength' as for helping me overcome my depression.

      any italian quotes or phases that connect with inner strength?

      could somebody please tell me what theses words mean?

      Effettivo

      Potenziale

      Speranza

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      Laura 

      6 years ago

      Please help :(

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      ines 

      6 years ago

      Yes, it does.

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      julie 

      6 years ago

      ti amo means i love you in italian

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      Andrea 

      6 years ago

      "Every day in every way, miracles are everywhere"

      Ogni giorno in ogni modo, i miracoli sono ovunque.

      "Life is full of magic"

      La vita è piena di magia.

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      Andrea 

      6 years ago

      "We don't remember days, we remember moments"

      Non ricordiamo i giorni, ricordiamo i momenti.

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      Vaida 

      6 years ago

      Hi, can anyone translate please..

      "Every day in every way, miracles are everywhere" and "Life is full of magic"

      thank you ;*

    • profile image

      Julianne 

      6 years ago

      Anyone know how to translate

      "We don't remember days, we remember moments"

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      Marco 

      6 years ago

      @Tauree its sounds better: "La famiglia è vita e la vita è bellissima"

      I'm italian :D

    • profile image

      Tauree 

      6 years ago

      Hi i wanna get a tattoo that says family is life and life is beautiful in Italian. I researched it and it came back with famiglia e la vita e la vita e bella.... Just wondering if anyone knows if this is right

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      laura 

      6 years ago

      la vita e bella il mio amico ... is this correct for life is beautful my friend?

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      Andrea 

      6 years ago

      How do u say " my kids my heart" in Italian ?

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      Jill 

      6 years ago

      Italy with love translated to Italian please

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      Cicia 

      7 years ago

      Gemma, you can translate"my beautiful daughters, i love you forever" like this "amerò per sempre le mie bellissime figlie"

      I'm Italian.

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      gemma 

      7 years ago

      HELP me please..getting my tat done at the wkend,thought i had the correct translation but now i'm finding different wording everywere!! i need 'my beautiful daughters,i love you forever' in italian..someone please help..

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      Greg 

      7 years ago

      "Nothing is true, everything is permitted" Anyone know that in Italian? Thanks.

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      Danielle 

      7 years ago

      Hi, my grandmother was from Italy. And she passed away and I want a tattoo that says...my guardian angel...in Italian. Is it 'Il mio angelo custode?

    • profile image

      Rachel 

      7 years ago

      anyone know 'always return home' in italian please? :)

    • profile image

      Georgie 

      7 years ago

      Just an fyi people, google translator should give you the correct quote if it is a single word or two, for proper translations of phrases and quotes you will need to find someone who speaks italian, an english/italian dictionary or something along those lines.

    • profile image

      john 

      7 years ago

      I wanna get simply "have no fear" i'm just double checking, that sounds best as "non avere paura" correct?

      thank you!

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      aster 

      7 years ago

      Thanks so much for your generous help, alexis! you're the best!

      due to the font spacing, tattoonist suggested me to go with 'Luminoso e radioso come il sole'. =D

    • profile image

      alexis 

      7 years ago

      "Walk with faith" - Camminare con la fiducia

      "To love a beautiful disaster" - Amare un disastro bello

      "I love you to the moon and back" - Ti amo alla luna e ritorno

      "my precious life" - la mia vita preziosa

      aster- yes, that's correct

      alexis - insieme siamo meglio (together we're better), insieme per migliorare (together to get better), insieme è meglio (together it's better), meglio insieme (better together)

      tattoo*

    • profile image

      aster 

      7 years ago

      'Luminoso e raggiante come il sole' does it mean bright and radiant as the sun?

      'walk with faith' in italian?

      Thanks with lots of loves

    • profile image

      sunflowerhaze 

      7 years ago

      Or "To love a beautiful mess"

    • profile image

      sunflowerhaze 

      7 years ago

      Anyone know the correct translation to:

      "to love a beautiful disaster"?

    • profile image

      lala 

      7 years ago

      how do you say "i love you to the moon and back" in Italian?

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      aster 

      7 years ago

      'Splendente come il sole'? anything wrong with the grammer? I love how this quote turns out in curvy font =D

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      aster 

      7 years ago

      @Stephy,

      how do you say 'Radiant as the sun' or 'As radiant as the sun' in italian?

      Babylon suggested 'Radioso come il sole' is it accurate?

      Thanks so much in advance!

    • profile image

      alexis 

      7 years ago

      I'm gonna make a tatto with 3 of my beloved friends. we want to get a tatto in Italian words for " TOGETHER TO BE BETTER" ? can anyone help us, pliss? Thanks !

    • profile image

      Cantinieri 

      7 years ago

      how do you say my precious life in Italian for a female thanks much

    • becauseilive profile imageAUTHOR

      becauseilive 

      7 years ago from N.J.

      @Stephy - Thank you so much for your help! Very kind of you! :)

    • profile image

      Stephy 

      7 years ago

      @Candace Let it be = Lascia stare

      @Christine Ride or die = guidare o muori

      @Rob You will always be mine = sempre sará la mia

      I'm italian so if anyone needs help just ask me :)

    • profile image

      Jo 

      7 years ago

      @Monica Thanks! ;)

      I was confused whether it's "Abbraccia", "Abbracciare" or "Abbraccio"

      Thanks for the help :)

    • profile image

      Candace 

      7 years ago

      Was wondering how to translate let it be ...

      with out getting lasciare è (to leave it is)

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      Rob 

      7 years ago

      Hi, my partner and I lost our first child Sienna at birth 1 month ago. Waiting on ortopsi results! Still don't understand what has happen. All was fine till she was born not breathing. Can anybody help me with an Italian quote that I may get tattooed??

    • profile image

      Monica 

      7 years ago

      @Jo ""abbraccia la vita" and it's really nice if you want my opinion! :)

      @Greg "Preferisco vivere piuttosto che vivere per sempre" or "Preferisco vivere piuttosto che essere immortale" which I like most, but in English is "I'd rather live than being immortal"

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      Greg 

      7 years ago

      Does "I'd rather live than live forever" translate into Italian? Thanks

    • profile image

      Jo 

      7 years ago

      Hey guys wow I am so glad I stumbled upon this page..

      i need a little help with a word here...

      How do you say "Embrace" in Italian??..

      as in the context of "Embrace Life"..

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      omgoodness 

      7 years ago

      so many of these are bothersome in italian. even in the examples there are certain phrases that are really in dialect, not in italian. . .

      also, how is that even possible? find an italian and check. they are all over the internet these days. . .

    • profile image

      Christine 

      7 years ago

      How do you say ride or die in Italian? Is it

      Cavalchi o muoia?

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      Monica 

      7 years ago

      @Lu, in italian we say Fiducia for trust and Fede for faith. Do not watch at the tattoos you see in the pictures above, most of them are wrong spelled or are translated with a very poor translator!!

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      Lu_ 

      7 years ago

      hey guys.. i really just wanna know what "Fiducia" really means?..

      because in the pictures above it says both faith as well as trust.. but when i asked a friend who learned a little Italain she said it means "confidence"

      I really wanna get one that means confidence.. is "Fiducia" right?..

    • profile image

      nikole 

      7 years ago

      How is "To Love is To Live" translated in Italian?

    working

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