How to Say CHEERS in Italian PLUS 6 Rules of Etiquette (FREE PDF) (2024)

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Italians love to celebrate. There’s nothing Italians love more than having a glass of vino in the company of family and friends, enjoying la dolce vita and celebrating life. Celebrating is a big part of Italian culture! This is why there’s a wide range of words and expressions in Italian to celebrate life, good health and the people we love.

If you’re learning Italian and have a special event coming up with your Italian friends or family or if you’re simply hosting a party for them, this is the perfect opportunity to learn an Italian expression or two and the art of Italian toasts!

In this guide, you’ll learn the most common expressions to say cheers in Italian, but perhaps more importantly, we’ll look at some surprising rules of etiquette in Italian culture that you probably didn’t know about that will ensure you makeuna bella figura (a good impression) with your friends and family every time!

Iniziamo! (Let’s get started)

How to say ‘to make a toast’ in Italian

To say “to make a toast” In Italian is by using either “brindare” or “fare un brindisi”. The origin of these expressions can be traced back to the Spanish “brindis”, which in turn was borrowed from the German “bring dir’s”, meaning “I bring it to you”, probably referring to the glass of wine. This expression was transmitted by the Lansquenets to the Spanish troops when a part of Italy was under the Aragonese (Spanish) domination in the 15th – 17th centuries.

The custom of celebrating by drinking has very ancient roots: it probably came from the ritual of drinking to the Gods in ancient Rome and Greece during banquets. Nowadays we make a toast as a sign of good wishes and celebration. We drink in honour of something or someone, and toast to their success, victory, happiness and good health.

Santé, na zdrowie, kanpai, prosit… These are just a few expressions used around the world to say “cheers” when making a toast. Every proper toast is accompanied by a motto that must be uttered when the glasses are raised and clinked. But what do you say when clinking glasses? How do you cheers in Italian? Here are four expressions you can use and when to use them.How to Say CHEERS in Italian PLUS 6 Rules of Etiquette (FREE PDF) (1)

How to say cheers in Italian: 4 Italian expressions to use

1. Salute!

Pronounced: sah-loo-teh

Saying Salute! is by far the most popular way to say cheers in Italian. It’s pronounced sah-loo-teh. “Salute” literally means health in Italian. You can use it in a variety of situations, both in formal and informal contexts. It’s a very versatile word and can also be used with as a sort of “blessing” after someone sneezes. Don’t confuse it with “saluti” (sah-loo-tee) though, which means “greetings” or “regards” and is only used in formal contexts.

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2. Alla salute!

Pronounced: ahl-lah sa-loo-teh

A common variation to “salute” is “alla salute” (ahl-lah sah-loo-teh), which literally means “to the health”. Like ‘Salute!’, it can be used in several situations.

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3. Alla tua! / Alla vostra! / Alla nostra!

Pronounced: ahl-lah too-ah / ahl-lah voh-strah / ahl-lah noh-strah

In the same way as seen with the previous phrases, another way to say cheers in Italian is using “alla tua” literally “to yours” which is the shortened version of “alla tua salute” literally “to your health”, which is the equivalent of the English “here’s to you”, when addressing one person. This phrase changes to “alla vostra (salute)” (ahl-lah voh-strah) when you’re toasting to more than one person, and to “alla nostra (salute)” (ahl-lah noh-strah) when you include yourself in it (“here’s to us”). You can also add other words and say “Beviamo alla nostra”, meaning “let’s drink to us”.

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4. Cin cin!

Pronounced: chin chin

Last but not least, a very common phrase that you’ll hear in Italian households during a toast, especially in informal contexts, is “cin cin”, pronounced chin-chin. This phrase comes from the Chinese ch’ing ch’ing’, which was a friendly and informal greeting that was exported to European ports by sailors and traders. Over time, this greeting underwent various changes until it was adopted by the Italian language as a way to say cheers. What also increased the popularity of saying “cin cin” was the fact that the onomatopoeic sound resembled the clinking of glasses at the moment of toasting.

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How to say Cheers in Italian on special occasions

How to Say CHEERS in Italian PLUS 6 Rules of Etiquette (FREE PDF) (6)The act of toasting is a sign of celebration and good wishes. It is an essential part of the festive season, especially at Christmas and New Year, but also for weddings and other important events. There are specific phrases you can use to say cheers in Italian on special occasions throughout the year. Let’s have a look:


Beside the traditional “Auguri” (best wishes) which fits to a variety of situations, including Christmas, an appropriate phrase that goes with toasting at Christmas is “Buon Natale” (Merry Christmas).

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New Year’s Eve

When midnight comes and the new year officially kicks in, raise your glass and say “Buon anno!”, “Buon anno nuovo!” or “Felice anno nuovo!” (Happy new Year) or again “Auguri!”.

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Some common phrases uttered at weddings when making a toast in Italian are “Viva gli sposi” (Hurray to the bride and groom), “Congratulazioni” (Congratulations), “Viva l’amore” (Long live love).

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Other celebrations

Here are some other phrases and expressions to use. Say “Congratulazioni” (literally, congratulations) when raising a toast to celebrate a graduation, promotion, winning a sporting event or any other achievement. Say “Auguri” or “Buon compleanno” (Happy birthday) when celebrating someone’s birthday and say “Buon anniversario” (Happy anniversary) to celebrate romantic milestones.

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6 Rules of etiquette to followduring Italian celebrations

How to Say CHEERS in Italian PLUS 6 Rules of Etiquette (FREE PDF) (11)Here’s a fun fact. The custom of toasting with glasses dates back to the Middle Ages. At that time there was the custom of having one’s glasses vigorously touched so that a few drops of one’s own drink would end up in the glasses of others’. This ritual, therefore, served to ensure that one’s drink was poisoned and nobody was attempting on their life!

Today, toasting rules vary from country to country according to traditions and local customs. Italy has its own rules and superstitions when it comes to raising a glass too! In Italian tradition, if you receive an invitation from your Italian friend to attend their party, make sure you follow their lead so you don’t get disapproving looks for accidentally doing something that attracts “bad luck”! It must be said, however, that some of these rules might be occasionally ignored when the context is very informal, but are certainly followed when it is a formal setting.

Here is what the galateo (the Italian etiquette or set of rules of good manners to be followed when in the company of others) tells us about the correct way to toast in Italian.

1. Water is a big no-no

According to Italian etiquette, toasting with water is bound to bring bad luck (and no one wants that, right?). The same goes for empty glasses: it is believed to bring bad luck too. Make sure you always have something in your glass when you raise it to say cheers.

2. Dinner host always starts the toast

It is common practice for il padrone di casa (the host) to initiate a toast by raising his or her bicchiere (glass) and saying a few words to the guests. It shouldn’t be a long speech though, just a few words to say thank you are enough.

3. Don’t clink glasses

It’s not considered polite in Italy to clink your glass with silverware to get the guests’ attention and start the speech. Standing up once everyone’s been served and pointing your glass towards the centre of the table will be enough to let people know that that is when the toast begins and they will naturally be quiet.

4. Don’t cross arms

Similarly, you should avoid movements and crossing arms when making a toast. Simply raise your glasses and address the toast to each guest.

5. You don’t need to make eye contact

Even though it’s gradually becoming part of Italian custom to look the other person in the eye when making a toast, this is actually a Northern European tradition and you don’t need to follow it in Italy.

6. Tap the bottom of your glass on the table

When you raise your glass and say “salute!” in Italian, before taking a sip, make sure you tap the bottom of your glass on the table or hard surface. The origin of this custom seems to be a kind of “thank you” gesture that was part of the gentlemen’s code of honour who wanted to recognize and value the work of innkeepers in the osterie (taverns). Nowadays, it is also believed that failing to do so will negatively affect your sex life!

Learn more about Italian superstitions here that Italians live by.

Vocabulary for saying cheers in Italian

How to Say CHEERS in Italian PLUS 6 Rules of Etiquette (FREE PDF) (12)Let’s do a quick recap! Here you’ll find all the words you’ll come across when toasting or celebrating a special occasion in Italian.

Italian wordEnglish translation
La saluteHealth
Salute! / Cin cin!Cheers!
Alla tua / nostra / vostra!Here’s to you / us / you (pl.)
Fare un brindisi / BrindareTo make a toast
Il brindisiToast
Facciamo un brindisi!Let’s make a toast
Vorrei fare un brindisiI’d like to make a toast
BereTo drink
La festaParty
I festeggiamentiCelebrations
La laureaGraduation
Auguri!Best wishes! / Happy birthday!
Buon Anno!Happy New Year!
Buon Natale!Merry Christmas!
Il bicchiereGlass
Alzare il bicchiereRaise a glass
Il vinoWine
Lo spumanteSparkling wine
Il proseccoA type of sparkling wine

Now that you know what to do and say when celebrating with your Italian friends or family and making a toast and wishing them good health and happiness, it’s time to put it all to the test and have a real Italian celebration. I’m sure everyone will be impressed! And don’t forget to always celebrate the beautiful things in life, however small or big, and savour every moment of joy that is given to us!

Buon divertimento! (Have fun!)

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How to Say CHEERS in Italian PLUS 6 Rules of Etiquette (FREE PDF) (2024)


What do Italians say when they clink wine glasses? ›

It is customary to make eye contact with the person being toasted and to say 'cin cin' or 'salute' while clinking glasses. A personal sentiment or wish, such as "to your health" or "to our friendship," is also common.

What is the proper cheers etiquette? ›

Simply lift your glass and say, "Hear, hear", or "Cheers." *Do keep your toast short. *Do toast the host in return if you are the guest of honor and are being toasted. You can do this as soon as his or her toast is finished or later.

Why do Italians say chin chin when toasting? ›

It became popular in Italy because it reminds Italians of the sound of wine or beer glasses make when they clink together. Most likely the expression came from China. Cin cin comes from the Cantonese qing qing. It was used among chinese sailors as a cordial gree-ting.

Is it poor etiquette to clink glasses? ›

At the beginning of the 20th century, clinking glasses began to be interpreted as a working-class tradition and thus was abandoned by those with more refined manners. So, clink if you wish, but be aware that it is not practiced, nor condoned, in certain circles. As always, take your lead from the host of the table!

What happens if you don't make eye contact when you cheers? ›

In particular, there's a superstition in several European countries that eye contact must be maintained during the toast. If it is not, the spiritual and “bad-luck” penalties can be fairly harsh. According to lore, if you break eye contact during the toast, you'll suffer seven years of bad sex!

What does Chin Don mean in Italian? ›

A popular toast on the east coast, Chin don is Italian. American slang roughly meaning “health for 100. years.” .

What is the order of toasting etiquette? ›

General Toasting Guidelines

The order is this: Wait for everyone to get a drink, raise glass, words spoken (see following table for suggested words), optional clink, drink. (Some varsity-level drinkers have taken to tapping the bottom of their glasses on the table post-clink and pre-sip.

Why do you touch the table after cheers? ›

Even if the ritual's significance today is centered more around fitting in with one's surroundings than anything else, hitting the bar with one's glass began as a way to thank the bartenders and servers who made the joyful moment possible.

What is the protocol for toasting? ›

The toast proposer should raise their glass and says the toast, ending with the name of the person/people/organisation that is being toasted. Everyone else then raises their glass, and repeats the name.

What do Italians say when they clink glasses? ›

How do you toast in Italian? If you'd like to make a toast, you can either say "cin cin" or "salute". "Cin cin" recalls the sound the glasses make when clinked, while "salute" literally means health.

How do you toast a drink in Italy? ›

If you'd like to make a toast, you can either say "cin cin" or "salute". "Cin cin" recalls the sound the glasses make when clinked, while "salute" literally means health.

Do they have toast in Italy? ›

In Italy toast is a toasted sandwich with ham and cheese made with what we call “pan carrè" (basically sliced white bread). Commonly we eat bread that does not require toasting. We usually have a sweet breakfast, with coffee, sometimes milk, and sweet crackers/bisquits/cookies (however you call them).

What do Italians say as a greeting? ›

When you greet a friend, you can always use the word “ciao,” no matter the time of day, place, or context. On the other hand, with a more formal and business setting, it's better to use terms such as “buongiorno” or “salve” as a greeting.

Is salud Spanish or Italian? ›

The Spanish salud comes from Latin salus, variously meaning “health,” “wealth,” and “security.” Outside its use meaning “health,” salud is used to say “Cheers!” (“To your health!”) when toasting drinks or instead of “Bless you!” when someone sneezes. Use of salud in English dates back to at least the 1930s.

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