“I have sampled every language, French is my favorite. Fantastic language. Especially to curse with. Nom de dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d’enculer ta mère. It’s like wiping your arse with silk. I love it.”
Lambert Wilson (Matrix)
Goddammit! We all knew that Europeans swear like troopers but we may have forgotten how creative they can be. Captain Haddock had better watch out: he has serious competitors. “Fuck!” says the Brit, “Putain!” answers the French, “Cazzo!” replies the Italian, “Kurwa!” says the Pole… Europeans have their own words to express anger, irritation, contempt, or disappointment, but they don’t use the same swear images. A whole set of countries use the word “hell” or “satan” to swear: it is not really rude, and almost nice if you look carefully! Others swear with the word “shit”: it’s not elegant, but, well, it’s ok! Another set of countries uses words related to male and female genitals: well done, it’s so chic! And last a certain number of countries use obscene words equivalent to “f***”… no comment! Well, the following list of European swear words show then again our diversity, even in our worst expressions! But don’t be chocked, this should not be taken as a list of insults… not yet…
¡Joder! – ¡Puta!
This very vulgar swear word means “fucking with” or “screwing up” something. But the spanish word is also used as a very popular interjection in Spain, such as in ¡Joder! (“Fuck!”). For example, you can say : “¡¿Joder, sabes español?!” (“No kidding, you know Spanish?”), “Me jode que creas que he sido yo” (“I’m pised that you think it was me”), “¡No te jode!” (“Can you believe it!” or “No problem!”). The word joder comes from the Latin futuere (cognate with French foutre, Italian fottere, Romanian fute).
France – Belgium
Putain! – Merde!
Originally the French word “Putain” comes from the word “pute” (“dirty woman”, “prostitute”) in Old French. French speakers use it in different ways, either as an interjection “Putain!” or as an adjective equivalent to the English “fucking!” such as in “Éteins cette putain de télé!” (“Turn off that fucking TV!”). French speakers also tend to be really inventive in the combination of “putain” with other words, such as in “putain de bordel de merde” (“holy fucking shit”). An alternative to “putain!” is “merde!” and a polite version of the swear word would be “bon sang!” (“bloody hell” or “gosh”).
Helvítis! – Andskotinn! – Djöfullinn!
“Helvíti”, literally means hell and is a common Icelandic curse word. You will use it just as a simple “Dammit” such as in “Helvítis! Ég týndi lyklunum mínum aftur!” (“Dammit! I lost my keys again!”). You can also use “andskotinn” literally meaning ‘slanderer’ which is a direct translation of Greek diabolos “Andskotinn hafi það!” (“May the devil take it!”). It can be used with the meaning of “shit!”, “fuck!”, or “damn!”. There is eventually “djöfullinn” which means “the devil”…
United Kingdom – Ireland
Fuck! – Dammit!
Everybody knows the word “Fuck!” used in excess by English-speakers to denote disdain or as an intensifier used either as a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb. Did you know it: it is usually considered to be first attested to around 1475, but it may be considerably older. Most English-speaking countries censor it on television and radio and studies showed that the British public found that “fuck” was considered the third most severe profanity!
Faen! – Helvete!
“Helvete!” No it has nothing to do with Switzerland, but it is an old word from Old Norse helvíti which simply means “Hell” and is a compound word of hel, Hel (“the goddess of the realm of the dead”). Norwegians use it in sentences just as “Dammit” in English, “Helvete, kva gjekk galt?”, (“Dammit, what went wrong?”) or as an intensifier “Kva i helvetet er det du vil?” (“What the hell do you want?”) or an insult “Dra til helvete!” (“Go to hell!“). The swear word “Faen” is a synonymous which is a contraction of “fanden“, “the Devil”, from late Old Norse fendinn, perhaps from Frisian with the original meaning “the tempter, he who tempts”. You can even build a word made of the two words“Faen i helvete!” (“Damn (it)!“)
The Swedish swear word equivalent to “Damn!” is “Fan!” and it means “devil” or “satan”. It works the same way as in English “Fan! Jag glömde nycklarna” (“Dammit! I forgot my keys”). It can also be an insult such as in “Din fula fan” (‘you ugly devil”). But, well, translated into other European languages, it wouldn’t be that rude! Swedes even have the expression “måla fan på väggen“, meaning “paint the Devil on the wall” (assuming the worst is going to happen). Well, next time you are in Stockholm, don’t think everybody is a fan of you…
For helvede! – For fanden! – Lort!
In Denmark, “For helvede!” would be the equivalent of “shit” or “dammit” in English. It means “hell” so that consequently “hvad helvede!” means (“what the hell”). An alternative is “For fanden!“, a Danish word meaning “the devil”. It is commonly used as a profanity word that could also mean “fuck”. Otherwise, you also have the simple “Lort!” which is the translation of “shit” in English.
Netherlands – Belgium
Kut! – Kanker!
Kut in Dutch is the slang word for vagina. It is often used in the Netherlands and Flanders as an equivalent in English to “damn!”. The swear word “kut” is also used to describe something that is not entertaining, such as in the sentence “Nou, dat was kut” (“Well, that sucked”). Dutch people also use another word when they are angry, surprised or when they fail to do something which is “Kanker!“. It means “cancer” and can be used as an imperative form “kanker op, dikzak!” (“fuck off, fatass” or literally “cancer off, fatsack”). It is also used as a superlative such as in “je haar is kankerlekker!” (“your hair is suppa fly!”). Interesting, isnt’it ?
Germany – Austria – Switzerland
“Ma che cazzo fa?” Funny enough, in Italy, the very popular and vulgar swear word “cazzo!” means at the same time “cock”, “dick” and “shit”. It comes from ca(pe)zzo itself from Latin capitium meaning “small head” or from Ancient Greek ακάτιον “main mast”. Well, you can use “cazzo!” whenever you want : either as an expression for frustration, surprise or anger, such as in “Salga a bordo, cazzo!” (Get aboard, for fuck’s sake!) or used as an intensifier, often replacing “cosa” or “che“, as for instance “Che cazzo vuoi?” (What the fuck do you want?). Got it ?
Kurva! – Do prdele! – Do piče!
In Czechia, such as in many other Eastern European countries, “Kurva” is used a lot as an interjection when someone is annoyed or surprised, just as in “Dammit!” or “Shit!”. It would be translated in English as a “slut”, a “whore” but it actually derives from Latin “curvo” (“to bend”). The two other most common swear words in Czech are “Do prdele!” and “Do piče!”, and they both mean “fuck”. The word “prdele” means “ass” in Czech so that it is common to build sentence such as “jdi do prdele” which means “to bugger off”… Now you can make it in Czech!
Kurva! – Tristo hrmenych! – Do riti!
Just as in Czechia, Slovakians would swear with “Kurva!” to express anger, irritation or surprise. It means “whore” because kurva means woman which bends her way from his husband/boyfriend to another man. E.g. in slovak “zahýba mu” (word by word: she bends from him) Her way is curve – curved. “Tristo hrmenych!” is the Slovak phrase for Darn it ! (very mild curse) It is quite archaic though and not so common. This form is often expanded “Tisíc hrmenych!” (1000 thunders), “Tisíctristo hrmených!” (1300 thunders) may be up to infinity. Slovak also use “Do riti!” (Czech equivalent “Do řiti!“) which means “Do prdele!“. Slovak also swear with “Do Boha!“, “Boha!” which means “God Dammit!” (“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”) or “Do pekla!” (which means “to the Hell!” or just “Hell!”). There are also a lot of archaic swear words: “Bisťu!“, “Bodaj ho!” but today they are very soft. If you are looking for a big dictionary of slovak abuse and invectives, just visit this page!
Kurwa! – Ja pierdolę!
The polish swear word “Kurwa!” means “whore” or “bitch”, but it is usually used to simply say “fuck” just as in English. You may sometimes hear the whole expression “kurwa mać“. “Mać” means “mother” in old Polish, but this word is not used anymore, so most people have no idea what it means. In the expression it means the same as “kurwa”. It only sounds even stronger when you add “mać“. In Polish, you can also say “Ja pierdolę” which means literally “I am fucking”, but it is used more as an interjection “Ja pierdolę, ale upał!” (“Fuck, it is hot today!”) or “Ja pierdolę, niewiele brakowało” (“Fuck, that was close”)…
Šūdas! – Prakeikimas! – Blet!
Lithuanians have different ways to express their angriness, irritation, disappointment or surprise. They use mostly “Šūdas” which means “shit“. They also have the word “Prakeikimas!” translated to “damnation” in Lithuanian. Another alternative is also the synonymous “po velnių!“. “Blet!” is a Russian word but is in Lithuania as well for “Fuck!” or “Damn!”, but is used rather by people with less education.
Latvians use the word “Sasodīts!“ to express anger, irritation, contempt, or disappointment, such as in the sentence “Sasodīts, cik pie viņiem tur labi!” (“Damn it, it’s so cool at their place!“).
Kurat! – Vittu!
In Estonia, we say “oh shit!” or “dammit” with the swear word “Kurat!”. It actually designates the Devil, Satan such as in the sentence “Kurat võtku! or Kurat võtaks!” (“Damn it!” or literally, “May the Devil take this.”). The most common swear words, can be used on it’s own (“Kurat!”) or as a general intensifier: “Mida kuradit tema siin teeb?” (“What the hell is he doing here?”) or in “Jää, kurat, vait!” (“Shut the hell up!”). The swear word “vittu!” can also be used just as in Finland.
блядзь! (bliadz!) – праклён! (práklon!)
In Belarus, “праклён!” (práklon!) means “damn!” or “dammit!”. Another word is “блядзь!” (bliadz!). This very strong belarusian swear word means “whore”, “bitch” and is in Belarus the most common swear word. Very often used to express disappointment as English “oh, shit!” or “oh fuck!”. It is also used widely to connect filler words as English ‘like’,’you know’,’kind of things’,’sort of stuff’. It is used in its literal sense as well; then this word gains its greatest sworn strength and abusive effect.
Лайно! (hamno!) – бльін! (blyeen!) – курва! (Kurva!)
In Ukraine, there are many ways to swear when you are angry, irritated or surprised. The swear word “Лайно!” (Hamno!) means “shit!”. You can also use the swear word “бльін!” (blyeen!) which is the equivalent to the English word “damn!”. Other alternatives include “курва!” (Kurva!) which means “whore”, “сука!” (souka!) for “bitch!” and a really slang word “блять!” (blyat!) even worst than “fuck!”.
Romania – Moldova
La naiba! – La dracu! – Futu-i!
In Romania and Moldova, the swear interjection to express anger, irritation, contempt, or disappointment is “La naiba!“. Literally “naiba” means “the devil” and by extension “damn”, “blimey”, “confound it”. It is then also the same functioning for “unde naiba” which means “where the hell”. The way to yell this in someone’s face is: “du-te la naiba!” You can also use the synonymous “la dracu“. Last but not least, you can even try the interjection “Futu-i!” which is the direct translation of the English “Fuck!”. But it is strongly recommended to stay polite anyway…
Kurva! – Basszuskulcs! – Fene!
Just as in many eastern European countries “Kurva!” is used to say “fuck!” when annoyed or angry. In Hungary, “Fene!” would be no ruder than “hell!” or “damn!” in English. It is literally a veneral disease and is used in phrases like “a fene egye meg” (“damn it!”, literally “may it be consumed by the fene”) or “menj a fenébe!” (“go to hell!”). A synonymous also coming from the veneral disease is “franc!” (“dammit!) which comes from the word “French” since syphilis was often known as “a francia kór” (the French disease). And last, a more polite word “Basszuskulcs!” which means “Oh my gosh!”
Prekleto! – Pičkati čorava!
Slovenians have different possibilities to express their irritation or angriness. The swear word “Prekleto!” would be the most common and is the equivalent to the English “dammit!”. There is eventually “Pičkati čorava” which means “Blind pussy”. It is similar to “God Dammit” in usage.
Croatia – Serbia – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sranje! – Dodjavola! – Kvragu!
In Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, people would swear with the word “Sranje!” when they are angry, oppressed or surprised. It means “Oh shit!”. You can also use the swear word “Dodjavola!” which means “devil” and can be used as “dammit!”. The Serbo-Croatian word “Kvragu” would be the equivalent of “damn!” or “to hell with it!“. For “what the hell”, but in a very slang version, Serbians and Croatians would say “koji vrag!“. A more polite version would be “zaboga!” (“gosh” or “bloody hell”).
Qij! – Mallkoj! – Lesh!
In Albania, “Qij!” is the way you say “Fuck!” in English. There are other ways to express irritation in the country. The swear word “Lesh!” would be the equivalent to “Shit!” but it actually means “wool”, “public hair”. And eventually, “mallkoj!” is the Albanian word for damn (use of damn as a swear word).
По дяволите! Дявол да го вземе! Еба си майката! (Po dyavolite! – Dyavol da go vzeme! – Eba si majkata!)
When irritated or angry, Bulgarians use various expressions. There is first the common “po dyavolite” which means “to hell” and “dammit”. They can also say “Eba si majkata!” or “Ebi si maikata” but they are quite vulgar so we won’t translate them. Last but not least, they have also more polite expressions such as “Dyavol da go vzeme!” which could be translated as “To hell with it!”.
γαμώτο! (gamóto!) – σκατά! (skatá!)
“γαμώτο!” (gamóto!) is the Greek swear word for “fucker”. It is also used as a general exclamation to express anger (particularly angry frustration), disappointment, the same way as “dammit” in English. It can also be used to address someone affectionately, but only between friends or those whom one is very familiar with. This is for instance in a negative way “Ohi re gamoto!” (“oh no!”), “Ela gamoto!” (“oh fuck!”) or “Gamoto!” (“shit!/fuck!”) or in a positive way “Mou areseis poly re gamoto!” (“fuck, i really like you!”). “σκατά!”(skatá!) can be used as a synonymous, in the sense of “shit”.
Siktir! – Skim!
In Turkish, “Siktir!” is an equivalent with the same meaning of the English word “Fuck!”. It is used to show pain, anger or to react to an unexpected event. “Skim!” is also really slang, as it means “my penis“.