The present study was based on psycholexical approach premises and explored the structure of a large set of personality attribute-nouns in the Italian language. Content inspection (based on Big Five categories) and quantitative indices were used to interpret the attribute-noun dimensions. Results showed (a) a stable three-component solution which replicated the Big Three; (b) an unstable five-factor solution which did not reproduce the Big Five; (c) an unstable six-factor solution which represented deviations from the Big Five system, which have been found in most psycholexical studies conducted in the Italian language. The six lexical dimensions were interpreted as follows: Conscientiousness (replicating the III of the Big Five); Self-Assurance (combining the Big Five I assertiveness and IV fearfulness subcategories); Sociability (defined by the Big Five I sociableness and I impulse expression subcategories); Placidity (combining the Big Five II peacefulness, II unassertiveness, and IV irritableness subcategories); Honesty and Humility (comprising the Big Five II modesty and II helpfulness subcategories plus integrity values); Cleverness and Sophistication (defined by the Big Five V subcategories). The conclusion was that personality word organisation in the Italian language reflects the psycholexical Big Three and Big Six, but not the Big Five. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.