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Perhaps from Old Italian parpaglione, from Latin papiliō (butterfly). Compare Old French paveillon, Catalan papalló, Provençal parpalhos, Lombardic parpaja. The f is difficult to account for, though it might be due to the Tuscan gorgia.

Alternatively, from the dialectal Arabic word in Maltese farfett, Tunisian Arabic فرططو/فرفطو(farṭaṭṭu/farfaṭṭu), which is from Berber; compare Kabyle aferṭeṭṭu (butterfly, moth). Forms with a second -f- are apparently attested within Berber as well, but are at any rate explainable. For the -ll- compare Sicilian beddu versus Italian bello. The Arabic emphatic [tˤ] could easily have been interpreted by southern Italians as their retroflex [ɖ] and then replaced with the cognate [l] as the word moved northwards.


  • IPA(key): /farˈfal.la/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -alla
  • Hyphenation: far‧fàl‧la


farfalla f (plural farfalle)

  1. butterfly
  2. bow tie
  3. (chiefly in the plural) pasta in the shape of butterflies or bow ties
  4. (swimming) the butterfly stroke
  5. throttle valve, butterfly valve

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