What does Penne Mean? Penne Rigate Meaning In English

Penne is one of the most well known and beloved types of Italian pasta all around the world. But while for Italians its name also conveys a special meaning, for the rest of us it’s simply a delicious pasta. But wouldn’t it be great to finally understand what we eat? So what is the meaning of penne in English? What does the word penne, or as sometimes referred to, penne rigate, mean in Italian?

Penne Meaning In Italian

Let’s start with penne. Penne is the plural form of the Italian word penna, literally meaning pen in English. But the word penne also means quill in Italian.

And this meaning is what actually defines the meaning of the penne pasta. If you look closely, this pasta actually looks like a tip of a quill, or a tip of a pen (think about a fountain pen).

All Italian pasta names come in plural when talking about the dish. So penna (literally pen or quill) is just one piece of pasta, rarely used in this form. Penne (literally pens or quills) is the plural form which is used for the name of the pasta in general, for one pack of pasta, or for any dish made from this type of pasta.

Hence the literal meaning of the Italian pasta name penne is quills or pens in English.

Quill and hand
The tip of a quill resembles to penne pasta, hence the name in Italian

What Does Penne Rigate Mean?

Now that we know what the word penne means in English, it’s time to understand what’s usually written on the box of this pasta.

Because what you see on the box is generally penne rigate. Rigate simply means furrowed (or striped literally), and this refers to the fact that most comercially sold penne pasta actually have ridges along the pasta. This makes for better sauce absorption.

By the way, there is another type of penne pasta, which is less common outside Italy, and that is penne lisce. This literally means smooth, and it refers to the fact that this type of penne pasta do not have stripes or furrows, they are literally smooth. Although less common, you can still find it, e.g. in Amazon.com, see the picture below.

Other Names For Penne Pasta In English

Penne pasta do not have a specific English name that some other types of Italian pasta do. So you can simply use the original Italian name penne when you are referring to this type of pasta.

For tips on how to cook penne pasta, click on the link.

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