Is there any difference between "brutto tempo", "cattivo tempo" and "maltempo"? Example:

L'aereo ha avuto un ritardo per il cattivo tempo/brutto tempo/maltempo.

  • 3
    They're essentially equivalent, but brutto tempo is less formal. In a newspaper you'd find cattivo tempo or maltempo.
    – egreg
    Nov 18, 2019 at 10:20
  • As @egreg said they are equivalent and “brutto tempo” is less formal. That being said the usage of “brutto tempo” in more formal settings depends on the region. For example in the Italian part of Switzerland you do hear this expression in the news quite often. Nov 21, 2019 at 12:59

1 Answer 1


In standard Italian, brutto tempo is less formal than cattivo tempo and maltempo.

The Sabatini-Coletti dictionary sets the origin of maltempo in the 15th century, but the word has become more and more formal during the time.

In a written text you would quite likely find

L'aereo ha avuto un ritardo per il cattivo tempo/maltempo.

rather than brutto tempo. In spoken (informal) language, brutto tempo would be used in most cases.

As Marcel Ferrari remarks in a comment, it can be different in other varieties of Italian, for example Swiss Italian, where it's rather frequent the inversion of formal registers with respect to standard Italian; another example is medicamento, which in standard Italian is formal for medicina (in the sense of medicinale).

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