This essay aims to discuss the many possible Italian translations of the German concept of Bestimmung des Menschen, which was coined in the 1730s and widely used in the following decades. As the noun Bestimmung is polysemous, the concept has often given rise to controversies, which arose shortly after its introduction and were primarily centered on its etymological, semantic and theological proximity to the noun Beruf. The Author first examines these early linguistic disputes and then deals with Italian translations of the word from the late eighteenth to the twenty-first century. Missione, destinazione and vocazione are the three main options which have been accredited up to now. The Author identifies all the relevant criteria to be taken in consideration when translating the concept and concludes that, though no Italian word perfectly conveys all the meanings of Bestimmung, nonetheless destinazione is the best choice.
Keywords: Bestimmung des Menschen, Beruf, destinazione, missione, vocazione.