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Italian Language/orecchio vs orecchia


Dear Maria,

Would you please help me to understand the difference between the masculine noun “orecchio” (ear) and the feminine noun “orecchia” (ear).

Is the masculine version (orecchio) used to refer to the ear of a man or to the ear of a  masculine animal?

Is the feminine version (orecchia)  used to refer to the ear of a woman or to the ear of a feminine animal?

Or, can these words be used interchangeably?

Thank you for your great help.



Dear Rich,

there is no difference between the masculine noun “orecchio” (ear) and the feminine noun “orecchia” (ear) since both “orecchio” (masculine singular) and “orecchia” (feminine singular)  refer to the ear of either a man or a woman as well as to the ear of any animal.

In short, these words can be used interchangeably, although in the singular we use the masculine noun “orecchio” more frequently than the feminine noun “orecchia”.

See for example: “Lo prese per un orecchio” (He took him by the ear); “Non ci sente  da un orecchio” (He  is deaf in one ear); “Avere orecchio per la musica”( to have an ear for music); “Mettere una pulce nell’orecchio a qualcuno” (to drop someone a hint); “Dimmelo in un orecchio” ( whisper it in my ear);  “Avevo male ad un orecchio”; etc.

In the plural,  we can use either “gli orecchi” (masculine plural) or “le orecchie” (feminine plural), but we use more frequently “le orecchie” (feminine plural)  as in “Tendere le orecchie”  or  “Allungare le orecchie" ( to prick up one’s ears) ; “Il cane si fermò e tese le orecchie” ( the dog stopped and cocked its ears ); “Ti tiro le orecchie!”( I’ll give you a ticking off!); “Mi fischiano le orecchie” (my ears are pricking); etc.

Best regards,


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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.


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I received my Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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