We all know that pizza hails from the great nation of Italy, and it is a word that is recognised all over the world – no matter what your native language. Whether you are English French or Chinese, cheese pizza is one of the most well-known food dishes. But whilst this word is thrown about in the English language when we refer to the Italian pizza topped with cheese, herbs and tomato sauce, does it have a different meaning in its original language?
The word pizza is said to mean pie in Italian. However, we should be aware that this use of the word is used only to refer to pizza and not other types of filled pastries or bread.
Let’s place a focus on this word of the day and find out whether the Italian pizza does indeed have its own meaning or whether the dictionary tells us otherwise.
What Is The Meaning Of Pizza In Italian?
A pizza is a flat piece of dough spread in lashings of tomato sauce, melt-in-the-mouth mozzarella cheese, herbs and various other toppings; it would appear that the Italians created the word pizza to describe this dish. Whilst the word can be construed as pie; this is not the common word for pie in this language.
When Italians talk about a savoury or sweet stuffed dish, they will largely use the words torta or crostata – pizza is reserved only for the meal we are all so familiar with.
Translating Pizza From English To Italian
When you type the word pizza into Google translate, it will tell you that it means the same in both languages and not a single online Italian English dictionary will yield different results to this. Take Word Reference, for example – their definition of pizza is the same in both English and Italian. It would appear that this word is nowhere to be seen.
When we use the same tool to translate the English word pie into Italian, we are given vastly different results to what one might expect – with the words torta and pasticcio coming up first, followed by a whole host of other Italian words, none of which are pizza.
So, Where Did Pizza Come From?
When we talk about pizza, we instantly assume that this is a word crafted by an Italian to talk about the open-faced ‘pie’ that has become so popular in recent years – despite it being a relatively new dish that was only widely accepted globally after the second world war.
In the late 1800s, modern pizza was made for the first time by an Italian who wanted to offer a baked dough covered in delicious ingredients to impress a visiting Queen. However, there is historical evidence to suggest that the Italian word pizza goes much further back – despite not having appeared in the dictionary until the late 1500s.
It’s easy to see what makes pizza Italian – the dish was first baked way back in 997 ad as a way to pay homage to a bishop. Although, it is unclear as to whether what was served than is the same as the new pizza dough recipe we know today.
The History Of The Word Pizza
Whilst pizza is commonly accepted as being Italian, it has its roots in other languages and appears in almost every translation dictionary covering all languages from English to modern Greek and everything in between.
Pizza can be attributed to Greece, where the Greek Pitta, a kind of bran bread, can clearly be seen in the new word, pizza. Additionally, there is some suggestion that we can also thank the Germans for our beloved cheese pizza, well its name at least, owing to an ancient dialect that used the word ‘bizzo.’ This means ‘bite’ and when combined with ‘pitta’ would make pizza – bread bite? Who knows?
So, Where Did Pie Come From?
This is where things get very confusing. Whilst most Italian speakers would not use the word pizza to refer to a pie, there are some Italian pie dishes that feature pizza in their name, although these are not common and as such, the word is not featured in any Italian English dictionary offering this meaning.
What’s more, depending on what type of food you are talking about, Italian speakers may use a far greater variety of words than English. For example, where English speakers may call both a savoury or sweet filled dish by the same name – Italian people would select different words. In short, there isn’t a single Italian word for pie as there is in English.
It is likely that the few filled dishes that do feature the word pizza in Italian were noticed by English speakers and the word was dubbed as having this meaning. Once again, it is important to point out that when you check the Italian English dictionary, no such meaning is acknowledged.
In the early 1900s, many Italian immigrants fled to North America, where they began selling pizza which first brought it to the attention of the English speaking world. It took a while, but it soon become hugely popular among English speakers, and the word pizza quickly found its way into the English dialect.
But you will notice that in many American cities, e g New York, where pizza is hugely popular, a vast number of English speakers will call the dish pizza pie. And essentially, pizza is just an open pie, is it not? So, it is likely that English speakers have fooled themselves into thinking that this is the traditional meaning of the work in Italian.
Our word of the day today is pizza, and an important focus has been placed on what its meaning is in Italian – many English speakers are led to believe that it means pie, but this is a common misconception. In truth, it has its very own meaning in the dictionary. It merely refers to the flat dish that we all know and love so well.
Check your Italian to English dictionary, and you will notice that the only translation of pizza between the two languages is that it merely refers to the flat dough-based dish that we all know and love so well.