Murder mystery novels are probably the books my Italian students enjoy reading the most.
It’s not my favorite genre but I perfectly understand the passion for this type of novel. Also, crime novels obviously are a perfect read for language students because they are heavily focused on action, have a lot of dialogues, and are generally way easier to understand than other books.
However, these novels – or movies – use a specific vocabulary that you may need to learn if you want to talk about murder mysteries in Italian. Recently, I did a live on Instagram about this topic and also posted a gallery there that features the most common Italian words you may need to use if you want to talk about crime stories.
Honestly, I hadn’t thought of writing a post about this specific Italian vocabulary. Then a student who doesn’t have Instagram asked me whether it was possible to have that content in another format and I realized I could write a blog post focusing on the Italian words you need to use if you want to tell someone about a great murder mystery you liked.
Also, as I always do with posts about the Italian language, I have created a downloadable PDF file for you to keep for future reference. You will find it in Your Italian Toolbox, the private page on my site where I upload all language learning materials, under the section Vocabulary. If can access the page by simply subscribing to my newsletter.
But now it’s time to list some useful words to talk about murder mysteries in Italian.
Delitto o crimine: (noun, masculine) crime, felony, murder
Example: Quell’uomo ha commesso un terribile delitto e deve essere arrestato – That man committed a horrendous crime and must be arrested
Mistero: (noun, masculine) mystery
Example: C’è un mistero intorno al delitto di ieri sera – There’s a mystery around yesterday night’s crime
Omicidio o assassinio: (noun, masculine) murder
Example: Ieri c’è stato un omicidio: un uomo ha ucciso tre persone – There was a murder last night: a man killed three people
Omicida o assassino: (noun, masculine) murderer
Example: L’omicida è stato finalmente catturato – The murderer was finally caught
Uccidere: (verb, transitive) to kill
Example: Non so chi abbia ucciso quella donna, ma ho qualche sospetto – I don’t know who killed that woman but I have some suspects
Furto: (noun, masculine) theft
Example: C’è stato un furto nell’albergo e il proprietario ha chiamato la polizia – There was a theft in the hotel and the owner called the police
Ladro: (noun, masculine) thief
Example: Il ladro ha commesso un furto e ora sta scappando – The thief committed a theft and now he’s on the run
Rubare: (verb, transitive) to steal
Example: Sono stati rubati molti soldi dalla cassaforte nella stanza da letto – They have stolen a lot of money from the safe in the bedroom
Indagine: (noun, feminine) investigation
Example: Le indagini sul delitto sono iniziate immediatamente – The investigation on the crime started immediately
Indagare o investigare: (verb, transitive) to investigate
Example: La polizia ha cominciato a indagare sul crimine avvenuto a Milano – The police started investigating on the crime that took place in Milan
Fare o condurre indagini: (verbal phrase) to investigate
Example: Fare le indagini sul crimine è il compito della polizia, tu non sei un poliziotto – It’s the police that must investigate on the crime, you are not a policeman
Interrogare: (verb, transitive) to question, to interrogate
Example: Il detective ha interrogato le persone che erano sulla scena del crimine – The detective questioned the people who were on the crime scene
Investigatore: (noun, masculine – feminine is investigatrice) detective, investigator
Example: L’investigatore ha scoperto chi ha commesso il delitto – The detective found out who committed the murder
Supposizione: (noun, feminine) assumption, hypothesis
Example: L’investigatore ha fatto delle supposizioni su chi avrebbe commesso il crimine – The dectective made some assumption on who may have committed the crime
Indizio: (noun, masculine) clue, hint
Example: Ci sono molti indizi che fanno pensare che lui possa essere l’assassino – Many clues make us think he might be the murderer
Prova: (noun, feminine) proof, evidence
Example: La polizia ha molti indizi, ma nessuna prova – The police have many clues but no evidence
Testimone: (noun, masculine/feminine) witness
Example: Il testimone ha detto di aver visto l’assassino molto chiaramente – The witness said he saw the murderer very clearly
Sospetto: (noun, masculine) suspect
Example: Tutti i sospetti sono stati interrogati ieri mattina – All suspects were interrogated yesterday morning
Colpevole: (noun, masculine) culprit, felon, criminal
Example: Quell’uomo vestito di bianco è il colpevole. È lui che ha ucciso la donna – That man dressed in white is the culprit. It’s him who killed the lady
Sospettare: (verb, transitive) to suspect
Example: La polizia sospetta che il colpevole sia la moglie – The police suspect the wife to be the culprit
Alibi: (noun, masculine) alibi
Example: Dobbiamo escludere dalle indagini le persone che hanno un alibi – We have to exclude from the investigation those who have an alibi
Movente: (noun, masculine) motive, cause, reason
Example: Quell’uomo avrebbe un movente, ma ha anche un alibi, quindi non credo sia l’assassino – That man has a motive for murder but he also has an alibi, so I don’t think he’s the murderer
Carcere o prigione: (noun, masculine) prison, jail
Example: Quell’uomo ha passato vent’anni in prigione – That man has spent twenty years in prison
Accusare: (verb, transitive) to accuse
Example: La polizia ha accusato il sospetto di essere l’assassino – The police accused the suspect of being the murderer
Arrestare: (verb, transitive) to arrest
Example: Lo hanno arrestato ieri sera e ora è in prigione – He was arrested last night and now he’s in prison
Condannare: (verb, transitive) to condemn, to sentence
Example: Quella donna è stata condannata a tre anni di prigione per furto – That woman was sentenced to three years in prison for stealing
Incarcerare: (verb, transitive) to imprison
Example: L’assassino è stato incarcerato ieri sera – The murderer was imprisoned last night
By the way, do you like murder mysteries? If so, what are your favorite authors or novels?
I created a downloadable PDF file for you to keep for future reference. You will find it in Your Italian Toolbox, the private page on my site where I upload all language learning materials, under the section Vocabulary. If can access the page by simply subscribing to my newsletter.
If you are looking for interesting ways to practice your Italian daily, I’d suggest you check my program called Giorno dopo giorno, a daily Italian practice.
If you sign up for Giorno dopo giorno, you will receive an email every other day for 365 days. Each email will contain a prompt, a little exercise, something to watch, read, or listen or something that will gently force you to practice your Italian every day, making it part of your daily routine.