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How to Curse in French | 12 Most Popular Swear Words

french bad words

You must have noticed by now that the French have a reputation for swearing a lot.

If you are learning French, it’s a good idea to get a grasp of what French insults are, even though you don’t tend to use them. Or not just yet!

In this blog post, you’ll learn rude French phrases and explore some creative ways to insult someone in French.

Do French Swear a Lot?

Like their English-speaking counterparts, the French are known for using a wide variety of swear words to express a range of emotions. These profanities are not limited to just anger or frustration but can be used to convey surprise, sadness, excitement, and even pure joy.

In fact, French swear words are deeply ingrained in the culture and are often used in everyday conversations among friends and family. They are seen as a way to add emphasis and color to the speech and can be a means of bonding and camaraderie.

While some may view the use of swear words as vulgar or offensive, in France, they are considered a natural part of the language and are not typically seen as disrespectful or inappropriate. In fact, many French people view the use of profanity as a form of expression that adds depth and richness to the conversation.

So, if you happen to hear some colorful language being spoken in France, don’t be too quick to judge. It may simply be a way for the speaker to convey their emotions and connect with those around them.

12 Most Popular Swear Words

Putain

An often-used French swear word, putain, means “fuck” in English, and is often used to convey anger, surprise, and admiration. Although it literally means ‘whore’, it is not considered one of the most vulgar French swear words, as it is. Context, however, can affect its offensiveness.

Personne 1: Putain, j’ai perdu mon portefeuille!

Person 1: Damn it, I lost my wallet!

Personne 2: Calme-toi, tu l’as peut-être laissé à la maison.

Person 2: Calm down, maybe you left it at home.

Personne 1: Putain de merde, je suis sûr que je l’avais avec moi!

Person 1: Fucking shit, I’m sure I had it with me!

Merde

This is one of the commonly used French swear words, directly translating to ‘shit’ or ‘crap’ in English. It can express dissatisfaction with something’s quality, or imply someone’s character.

It can also convey surprise or disappointment, such as in the phrase ‘holy shit’.

C’est de la merde !

That’s shit!

Ah, merde. J’ai fait tomber mon machin dans l’évier.

Ah, crap. I dropped my doohickey into the sink.

C’est quoi cette merde ?

What is this shit?

Bordel

This French word is one of the most versatile French swear words. It literally means ‘brothel’ but it’s use is similar the word “putain”. It’s often translated as a mess, or to express someone’s negative surprise.

Ça va être le bordel.

This is going to get messy.

Sa chambre est un bordel.

His room’s a mess.

C’est quoi ce bordel ?

So fuckin’ what.

Connerie(s)

It’s translated to English as ‘bullshit’ and is used to describe something that we don’t believe or consider nonsensical.

In expressions such as ‘faire une/des connerie(s), it can also refer to actions when someone does something foolish,  In this instance, it would translate to ‘to screw up’ or ‘to mess up’.

It can also refer to actions that are foolish, which in French can be expressed as

faire une/des connerie(s)

to screw up or ‘to mess up

casse-toi 

English translation: get lost” “piss off”, “bugger off”

“Casse-toi” is a French swear word that translates from “get lost” “piss off”, “bugger off” in English. According to the context, “Casse-toi” has some slightly different registers.

In any case, it’s a rude and impolite way of telling someone to go away or leave, and can be considered offensive depending on the context and tone in which it is used.

Va te faire foutre/Va te faire voir

English Translation: Fuck off!/ Get lost!

Va te faire foutre!

Fuck off! or Get fucked!

while

Va te faire voir!

Get lost!

Go fuck yourself!

Va te faire enculer.

Dégage!

English translation : Get out of my way! /Fuck off! 

The verb “dégager” can convey movement in non-offensive contexts.

As a swear word, its usage varies depending on the speaker’s intention. While it’s impolite to say to someone when asking them to move, it can range from a firm “Move!” to an angry “Fuck off!” based on the speaker’s level of frustration.

Ta gueule!

English Translation: Shut the fuck/hell up! 

Derived from “ferme ta gueule,” this phrase has become so common that only the last two words are needed.

The power of this insult depends on the context and tone of the speaker. It can range from “Shut the hell up!” to “Shut the f*** up!” depending on the situation.

In group settings, “bande de” is also commonly used, as in:

Bande de cons!

What a bunch of idiots!

How to Insult Someone in French?

con/conne 

English translation : idiot/stupid

Con is used for masculine, while conne is for feminine Singular.

Quel con!

What an idiot!

Ne fais pas le con.

Don’t be a dick.

Tu me prends pour un con.

You’re shitting me.

Even though this French swear is rude in its essence, if it’s not directed at anyone specifically, it can be used with a slightly vulgar but positive meaning. For instance:

“C’est pas con.”

“That’s pretty smart!”

There’s a stronger version of “con/conne”, meaning “jerk” or “asshole”, and it’s un connard/une connasse. 

English translation to it is –  fucking asshole for men /stupid bitch for women (in feminine form).

There’s even the third degree of rudeness, and it’s the “connasse“. Whenever the “-asse” is added, it serves as a highly derogatory and slightly vulgar suffix.

salaud 

English translation : bastard/son of a bitch

Note that this word only exists for masculine subjects, much like in English.

Il a trompé sa femme, le salaud.

This son of a bitch cheated on his wife.

salope

English translation: slut/bitch.

Similar to its counterparts in the English language, this term can be used as an insult among women or in a misogynistic context to refer to women.

Mais quelle salope !

God, what a bitch!

nouille

English translation: idiot (but yes, literally “noodle”)

Remember that “nouille” can also have a double meaning and refer to “penis”. However the context in which it is used will make the intended meaning clear.

Quelle nouille!

What an idiot!

Discover the list of French Curse Words.

The Most Common French Swear Word

And, the Oscar for the most commonly used swear word goes tooooooo “putain”. The second French swear word on the list is “merde” at a distant second.

  • Putain. ‘Putain’ is definitely the most commonly used French swear word. …
  • Merde. ‘Merde’ is another popular curse word- perhaps not as popular as ‘putain’ but it is still used a lot. …
  • Va te faire foutre. …
  • Je m’en fous. …
  • Ta gueule. …
  • Salope/ Salaud. …
  • Bâtard/ Bâtarde. …
  • Niquer.

Swear like a French!

In conclusion, French swear words may seem offensive to some people, but they are a natural part of the French language and culture. Swear words can be used to express a range of emotions, and they are often seen as a means of bonding and camaraderie.

This blog post has explored some of the most popular French swear words, including “putain,” “merde,” and “bordel,” and has provided examples of how they are used in everyday conversations.

Remember, it’s important to understand French insults and swear words, even if you don’t plan on using them yourself.

By having a grasp of French profanities, you will be better equipped to understand French culture and communicate effectively with native French speakers.

Learn more about French Swears.

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