What does grazie mean in Italian?

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What does grazie mean in Italian? Grazie means thank you and everybody knows that. But there’s more to it. Grazie is plural of grazia. This lovely, positive word can mean lots of things: grace and elegance, for example. But also favour, benefit, good graces and generosity.

It derives from the Latin word gratia, which has lots of meanings: favour, friendship, harmony, consideration, gratitude, even indulgence. In Latin to thank is gratias agere.

Until 1800 people didn’t say simply grazie but they used a different, longer idiom: Vi rendo grazie = I pay you back with my gratitude.

It seems that the use of “grazie” alone started spreading from Venice, since the first testimonies are in Carlo Goldoni’s comedies. In La donna di garbo (1743), The Sharp-Witted Woman, there is probably the first grazie of Italian literature.

Mille grazie or Grazie mille

Mille grazie is more polite. It can be translated with thank you very much, but literally it means a thousand grazie. When I say it, I like to think that “I wish a thousand of beautiful things” to the other person.

Both grazie mille and mille grazie are correct, but nowadays the second is less common. 

In Italian the use of the word mille to stress a huge quantity is not uncommon. This use actually started already at the time of the Romans. We can find a beautiful and romantic example in one of Catullo’s (a famous poet from Verona) Odes (Carme V):

Da mi basia mille, deinde centum.

Give me a thousand kisses, and then a hundred.  

In Italian literature, grazie mille first appeared in 1905 in a poem entitled La messe (The harvest) by Giovanni Pascoli.

Diceano i grilli grazie mille in coro.

The crickets were saying thanks in unison.

Another way to stress your gratitude is Grazie di cuore, literally thanks with the heart. But it’s more and more uncommon.

What does grazie mean in Italian?
What does grazie mille mean in Italian?

How to reply

If you want to reply, you can say: Prego (you’re welcome). Here you can read my post about all the different meanings of this word: What does prego mean?

But also: figurati [fee-GOO-rah-tee] that means don’t mention it. The formal version is Si figuri [see fee-GOO-ree].

Or non c’è di che [nohn tchèh dee kéh]: there’s no need to (literally there’s nothing to thank for).

Ironic use

It can also have an ironic use, to stress the obviousness of a statement.

For example:

    • Lisa si è comprata un’auto nuova e una borsa di Vuitton. (Lisa bought a new car and a Vuitton’s purse).
    • Grazie, ha vinto alla lotteria! (Thank you, she won the lottery!)

Another example:

    • Mi piacerebbe essere ricca e viaggiare per il mondo. (I’d love to be rich and travel the world).
    • Grazie mille! (Thank you very much! Meaning: Who wouldn’t like that?)

Thank God

We have a similar idiom which is Grazie a Dio or Grazie al cielo (thank heaven) to express relief and satisfaction.

Thank God that went well. (Grazie a Dio è andata bene).

Thanks for

Thanks for can be translated as grazie per or grazie di.

With a noun:

    • Grazie del regalo. Thanks for the present.
    • Grazie per la bella serata. Thanks for the lovely evening.

With a sentence:

    • Grazie per avermelo detto. Thanks for telling me.
    • Grazie di aver badato al mio gatto. Thanks for taking care of my cat.

Well, grazie for reading!