I would like to know, regarding standard and literary Italian, on what letters and in which letter positions the circumflex character (^) can appear in:

  • standard Italian
  • literary or archaic Italian

Perhaps, the given answers do not fully cover my question, which, as stated, also asks the following which are not answered in the given threads, and I have listed them once again below:

  • Besides the letter î, what other letters can the circumflex appear on in standard Italian?

  • Are there any Italian words which are not loanwords and take the circumflex on a letter other than the letter "i"? If these exist, then what are some of these words?

  • re there any Italian words which are not loanwords and can take a circumflex on a letter that does not occupy the final position of the word, like for instance can happen in French?

  • What about loanwords?


  • Sorry for reopening the issue. I've read the post that was supposed to duplicate the issue but still don't understand. See my comments below. Sorry if I'm a little slow to grasp the conecpt. Thanks. Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 18:48

1 Answer 1


My understanding is that no Italian word which is not a loanword can be spelled with a circumflex except for some nouns and adjectives whose plural ends in "ii". These can also be spelled with an ending "î" written in place of such "ii". In recent times, the use of such spellings, which up until recently were used as alternate spellings in some literary works for the sole purpose of making the text look more elegant, seems to have become even rarer if not almost completely nonexistent. Up until the beginning of the twentieth century, such circumflexed "î" could also be spelled as a "j". The letter "î" can be pronounced (IPA: /i/), (IPA: /ii/), or anywhere in between.

The rule for deciding whether to write the ending of a plural of a word ending in "io" as "i" or "ii" is as follows:

  • When a word ends in "io" and is stressed as "ìo", the plural ends in "ii" which is stressed "ìi". In this case both vowels must be pronounced separately by all Italians.

  • If a word ends in an unstressed "io" then the plural is always single unstressed "i" (for example, "secchi", plural of "secchio", or "vari", plural of "vario"). Using a circumflexed "î" at the end of such words would be wrong.

While the list of examples of some of the more common uses of the "î" runs into the hundreds if not the thousands, a few examples of Italian words which can optionally be spelled with a circumflex are the following (each bulleted entry given below lists all alternate spellings of an example plural form containing a circumflex in square brackets, and such spellings are listed from most frequent to least frequent):

  • [principi,principii,principî] (IPA: /prinˈcipi/): "principî" (circumflex version of "principii", plural of "principio", principle, pronounced "princìpi") not to be confused with "principi" (plural of "principe", prince, pronounced "prìncipi").

  • [geni,genii,genî] (IPA: /ˈgeni/ or /ˈgenii/): genî (circumflex version of "genii", also spelled "geni", plural of "genio", genius) not to be confused with "geni" (IPA: /ˈgeni/), plural of "gene", gene).

  • [assassini,assassinii,assassinî] (IPA: /assassˈinii/) (plural of assassinio, murder, not to be confused with "assassini" (IPA: /assassˈini/), plural of "assassino", murderer).

  • [oli,olii,olî] (IPA: /ˈoli/ or /ˈolii/): olî (circumflex version of "olii", plural of "olio", oil).

  • [propri,proprii,proprî] (IPA: /ˈpropri/ or /proprii): proprî (circumflex version of "proprii", plural of "proprio", belonging to one's self, of one's own).


  • 3
    You cannot hope to have a complete list (or it would run into the hundreds if not the thousands), since every single word ending in -io with unaccented i can in principle have its plural written with , even when not necessary to disambiguate. See for instance here.
    – DaG
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 8:24
  • 3
    And the above holds of course in particular for vario (see here, where both varii and varî appear) and secchio, as well as for any other word with the same ending.
    – DaG
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 8:29
  • 1
    Where does Treccani say so? If so, it must be a typo. Check for comparison the articles about the seemingly similar words trio (pronounced “trìo”) and atrio (“àtrio”); in the text if the articles themselves trii and atrî are used. Congratulations for the attention and dedication you put in your study of Italian!
    – DaG
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 20:26
  • 1
    What's perplexing? -ìo -> -ii, always; unstressed -io -> -ii, -î, -i, all correct, the last one more usual nowadays. “serio” fits the second case.
    – DaG
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 23:05
  • 1
    If I may say so, that Treccani article is misleading in an attempt to (over)simplify, and contradicts both itself and all Treccani dictionary articles (where the plural in -î for unstressed -io is generalised).
    – DaG
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 13:00

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