Is there any difference in meaning or usage between "gioco da tavolo" and "gioco in scatola" ? Word Reference translates both as "board game".

  • I've never heard gioco in scatola... Possibly a regional difference?
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 23:03

3 Answers 3


In a glossary at the end of his book L'autore di giochi, Emiliano Sciarra (author of Bang! and other successful boardgames) gives giochi di società as a broad category, which basically includes everything not included in other categories (role-playing games, card games etc.). «Altro termine usato per la stessa categoria è “giochi in scatola”» (my emphasis).

There, “giochi da tavolo o boardgame” is one of the subcategories of “giochi di società”, the other ones being giochi con carta e penna, giochi a domanda e risposta, wargame, giochi di dadi, giochi con le parole, giochi di emulazione, party game, and giochi astratti (where overlapping is possible among subcategories).

A somewhat different distinction can be found in Andrea Angiolino and Beniamino Sidoti's Dizionario dei giochi: there giochi in scatola and giochi da tavolo (or da tavola) are essentially synonymous, while they prefer giochi da tavoliere (or, following Giampaolo Dossena, giochi di tavoliere) for the games actually requiring a board, a tavoliere.


A gioco in scatola is a game for which everything needed for the play is provided in a box, very much like Scrabble or Monopoly, or Trivial Pursuit. But a gioco da tavolo is not necessarily a gioco in scatola.

For instance, I often play with friends a game called Vocabolario: one of the players, in turn, chooses an unusual word from the Italian Vocabulary, and the other players need to provide a definition for the abstruse word. Then the stabs are tossed in anonymously with the correct definition, and they are read in turn; players collect points for providing the right definition, for identifying the right definition in the pool, or for tricking other players in selecting their own definition as the right one. This game requires nothing but pens, paper, and a dictionary, thus it is a gioco da tavolo but not a gioco in scatola.

  • Welcome to Italian.SE, @MariusMatutiae!
    – Charo
    Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 16:44

Gioco in scatola appears to be a less common variant of gioco da tavolo, but the more commonly used expression is probably gioco di società, (See Google Books)

From Storie di Giochi:

Monopoly è il gioco in scatola più venduto al mondo.

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