Following up from last week’s look at ten pasta shapes and the meanings behind their names, here are ten more pasta shapes to complete the list!


PappardelleImage from Flickr user Alpha.

These broad ribbons of pasta are often served with heavy sauces, and the name is said to fittingly derive from the Italian pappare: ‘to gobble’, or ‘to stuff oneself’. Or as we say here on the Internet (and in general life), ‘Nom, nom, nom’.


PenneImage from Pixabay. The featured image for this article is from Flickr user Christian Cable.

Easily one of the most popular pasta shapes, ‘penne’ is the plural form of the Italian penna, meaning ‘quill’, ‘feather’, and (not surprisingly) ‘pen’. Would it be possible to dip penne pasta pieces in ink and write with them?


RavioliImage from Pixabay.

This one is slightly tricky. John Ayto suggests in his Diner’s Dictionary that the term is the diminutive or ‘small’ form of the Italian rava (‘turnip). ‘Ravioli’ would therefore translate as ‘little turnips’ and may have originally referred to some sort of small meat and turnip pie. It might also come from rabiole, which in the dialect of the Italian city Genoa means ‘leftovers’ or ‘bits and bobs’.


RigatoniImage from Flickr user jeffreyw.

These lined pasta tubes take their name from the Italian verb rigare, meaning ‘to score’ or ‘to groove’ (no, not musically).


RotelleImage from Wikimedia Commons.

‘Small wheels’ is the translation of this Italian name, though this Pasta Shapes Dictionary (there’s a dictionary for everything, isn’t there?) gives it as ‘Wagon Wheels’, which reminds me of a certain lunchbox snack…


SpaghettiImage from Pixabay.

We’ve had little tongues, little ears, little turnips, and little wheels. Now we have ‘little strings’ or ‘thin strings’, from the Italian spago, meaning ‘string’. The word ‘spaghetti’ may bring up many fond and delicious memories for most of you, but all I remember is Kevin Malone’s suggestion from the US hit show, The Office.


StrozzapretiImage from Flickr user fugzu.

Fancy eating some ‘choke-priest’ pasta? In different parts of Italy, it is also known as strangoloprevete and also strangugliaprieviti, both of which make the dark meaning slightly clearer (or at least the strangling part). Quite how this variety of pasta got its name is a mystery. One suggestion is that priests had a reputation for being fast-eating gluttons, but had difficulty getting this pasta down and choked. A less sinister explanation is that it refers to the shape of the priests’ collars (which were presumably a little tight).


TagliatelleImage from Flickr user Markus Reinhardt.

More ribbons – this time deriving their name from the Italian verb tagliare: ‘to cut’.


TortelloniThis is mushroom and truffle tortelloni. Image from the Flickr account of Restaurant Alexander Den Haag

Five-minute tortelloni was a household staple during exam time at university, and I tried just about every type available at the supermarket. What’s the difference to tortellini? Both have the same basic shape, but tortelloni is larger and generally has vegetarian fillings, while tortellini is smaller and usually has meat fillings.

I should probably have mentioned this near the start, but the ‘-ini’ ending refers to a smaller variety of pasta, while ‘-oni’ refers to a bigger variety!

As for the name, it comes from tortello, meaning ‘small cake or fritter’ (torta is ‘cake’). So technically speaking, tortellini is a ‘small small cake’, and tortelloni is a ‘large small cake’. My brain hurts now.


VermicelliI don’t think this was the image you were expecting. Nom, nom, nom? No, no, no. Image from Flickr user Allan Henderson

Finishing the list and continuing the trend of little things, vermicelli is ‘little worms’. You know who ate worms thinking they were pasta? Mr Twit, that’s who. Except he thought he was just eating spaghetti.

There you have it: ten more pasta shapes and the meanings behind their names. And if you’ve been traumatised by that ‘vermicelli’ image, maybe some spaghetti?

Spaghetti 2Image from Pixabay.

Much better.