Italian Adjectives To Describe Personality: Complete Guide With Examples

The Italian language has many adjectives that can be used to describe a person’s psychological qualities. If you are learning Italian and would like to know how you can describe someone’s personality or character, this article is for you.

Keep reading for a guide on Italian positive, neutral and negative adjectives that can be used to describe personality and character.

How do you describe someone’s personality in Italian?

Italian adjectives to describe someone’s personality are used in the form: “He/she is…..” followed by the adjective to describe them. Italian adjectives of personality, like all Italian adjectives, agree in gender and number with the person to which they refer.

Here is a recap of the verb “to be” to use with adjectives of personality:

The verb “to be” in ItalianUsing the verb “to be” to describe personality
Io sono – I am Io sono entusiasta – I am motivated
Tu sei – you areTu sei paziente – you are patient
Lui/ lei è – he/ she isLui è testardo – he is stubborn
Noi siamo – we areNoi siamo orgogliosi – we are proud
Voi siete – you areVoi siete generosi – you are generous
Loro sono – they are Loro sono allegri – they are cheerful
Table showing the verb “to be” in Italian, and how it is used with Italian adjectives to describe personality

Context is very important to understand the appropriate use of words in a new language. When forming sentences in Italian, you may benefit from looking at specific examples where a certain word is used.

The tool Reverso, specifically the context tab, can be very helpful in putting a word into context, and can provide a number of examples for each word that you look up.

Positive Italian adjectives to describe personality

These Italian adjectives to describe someone’s character have a positive connotation. Some of them can be used as compliments.

  • Affettuoso – Loving / caring / affectionate
  • Buono – Good / kind / honest
  • Coraggioso – Courageous / brave
  • Empatico – Empathetic
  • Entusiasta – Full of enthusiasm / motivated
  • Generoso – Generous
  • Leale – Fair / Loyal
  • Onesto – Honest
  • Paziente – Patient
  • Responsabile – Responsible
  • Gentile – Kind / polite
  • Intelligente – Intelligent
  • Allegro – Cheerful
  • Piacevole – Pleasant
  • Fedele – Faithful
  • Educato – Polite / Well mannered
  • Simpatico – Nice
  • Altruista – Altruistic
Happy woman in a field

Neutral Italian adjectives to describe personality

I have classified the Italian adjectives below as neutral in connotation, meaning that, without a specific context, they are neither positive or negative.

A small proportion of the adjectives below (such as “scorbutico” or “svampito”) could be regarded by some as being negative but, in the vast majority of cases, you wouldn’t be offensive by using them about someone.

  • Spensierato – Carefree
  • Svampito – Absent minded / forgetful
  • Ingenuo – Naive
  • Testardo – Stubborn
  • Scorbutico – Grumpy / short
  • Nervoso – Short-tempered (false friend, not “nervous”)
  • Serio – Serious
  • Orgoglioso – Proud
  • Triste – Sad
  • Invidioso – Envious
  • Geloso – Jealous
  • Sensibile – Sentitive (false friend, not “sensible”)
  • Indipendente – Independent
  • Forte – Strong
  • Ottimista – Optimistic
  • Pessimista – Pessimistic
  • Ansioso – Nervous / Anxious
  • Timido – Shy
  • Introverso – Introverted
  • Riservato – Reserved
  • Energico – Energetic
  • Divertente – Fun
  • Buffo – Funny
  • Riflessivo – Thoughtful
  • Pacato – Laid back / calm / quiet
  • Parsimonioso – Frugal / Thrifty
  • Calmo – Calm
  • Diligente – Diligent

Negative Italian adjectives to describe personality (these could be rude or insulting)

These adjectives are to be used with caution, as they can be rude, hurtful or insulting depending on the context in which they are used. This applies not only to Italian but to any other language.

  • Falso – Fake
  • Permaloso – Touchy
  • Codardo – Coward
  • Disonesto – Dishonest
  • Cattivo – Bad / Evil
  • Egoista – Selfish
  • Irritante – Irritating
  • Polemico – Argumentative
  • Antipatico – Obnoxious
  • Spiacevole – Unpleasant
  • Sleale – Disloyal / Treacherous
Cartoon of two people having an argument

Italian expressions to describe someone’s character and personality

There are also several Italian expressions, some of them idiomatic, that can be used to describe someone’s character and personality.

Some of these, as you will see, also exist in English.

  • Essere alla mano

This Italian expression means “to be down to earth”, “to be cool”, “to be easy going”.

Il capo della ditta mi piace, è un uomo molto alla mano

I like the company’s boss, he’s a very easy-going man
  • Avere il cuore al posto giusto

This Italian expression means “to have your heart in the right place”.

Stanno facendo un sacco di errori, ma almeno hanno il cuore al posto giusto

They are making a lot of mistakes, but at least their heart is in the right place
  • Essere pieno di sè

This Italian expression means “to be full of yourself”

La preside è proprio piena di sè

The headteacher is so full of herself
  • Essere fuori dagli schemi

This Italian expression means “to be unconventional”, “to do things your own way”. In the vast majority of cases, it has a positive connotation.

Lui ha un modo di agire che è fuori dagli schemi, ma raggiunge sempre il successo

He has a way of doing things that is unconventional, but he always achieves success
  • Avere i piedi per terra

This Italian expression means “to have one’s feet on the ground” or to be sensible and realistic.

Dobbiamo avere i piedi per terra in questa situazione

We must have our feet on the ground in this situation

Italian personality adjectives are easy to remember

Italian has many adjectives that can be used to describe someone’s character or personality. Many of these, if English is your first language, are probably easy to remember, thanks to the common Latin origin of these words. For example:

  • Irritante
  • Disonesto
  • Introverso
  • Ansioso
  • Paziente
  • Responsabile
  • …and so on

If you are learning Italian, be careful with some of the adjectives that can have a negative connotation, as you may run the risk of offending someone.

If you are ever in doubt about the usage of a word, don’t hesitate to ask a native speaker of Italian. Italians are very friendly people, and they would certainly be very happy to help.