A borrowing from Latin ītalus, itself possibly a borrowing from Oscan [script needed] (Víteliú), a name for the southwestern tip of the boot of Italy (today's Calabria), possibly a cognate of Latin vitulus (“calf”), meaning perhaps “land of cattle.” Other theories include the name of a ancient or legendary leader Italus, or also an old borrowing from Illyrian.
itālis m (2nd declension, feminine form: itāliete)
- Italic; a member of the ancient Italic peoples of primitive Italy
- (usually plural) itāļi, the Italic peoples
- Italian (i.e., a man born in Italy)
- (genitive plural) Italian; pertainig to Italy and its people
- itāļu valoda — the Italian language
The noun itālietis is preferred in almost all senses; itālis is most often used in the plural itāļi to refer to the Italic peoples of ancient (pre-Roman) Italy. The only exception is the name of the Italian language, for which itāļu valoda is as frequent as itāliešu valoda.