Disclaimer: you will learn many popular French swear words explained in English. This blog post might be not appropriate for a young audience.

Probably in every culture people love to swear but from my experience, as a French, I think French people positioned themselves amongst the rudest people related to their franchise. For once, I would agree with the American cliché about French people being rude (because they are swearing). Cliché illustrated with the expression, “Excuse my French”. Keep in mind that the French people swear a lot but it always stays something casual and this is not appropriated in the working world. This blog post will be about the French swear words from France. 

From a personal point of view, the first words you will learn by living abroad are the bad words or “big” words as the French people say (des gros mots). So, let’s start with learning French with the French vocabulary basics. 

French swear words as an interjection

In my book, another great illustration of those French swear words is the old sketch from the humoristic group of “Les Inconnus”. They are using the three most common swear words as an interjection: “Merde, Putain, Fait chier”. Basically, you can use those words to express your feelings for any situation. Why are you learning the French dictionary and grammar when you just need to learn those three French swear words? Let’s start with those three first words. 

Merde 

English translation: Fuck – Shit – Crap

English Literal Translation: Shit

“Merde” is an easy French curse word to understand for an English speaker. This word can be said by itself or you can combine this word with other bad French words. French people can also say “Merde” to wish you luck. This comes from the 19th century when a theatre piece was successful, there was a lot of excrement in front of the theater due to the many horses. People at that time were circulating in carriages. Because of the dirty street, the spectators were bringing excrement into the building with their shoes. Lots of shit inside the room was a sign of a big influence. The artists actually wanted some shit inside the opera and were wishing each other “merde” before an act. 

How do you say poop in French?

Poop in French is caca. 

Example:

Merde, j’ai oublié mon manteau chez ton ami.

Shit, I forgot my coat at your friend’s house.

Putain

English translation: Fuck – Damn

English Literal Translation: Whore

By checking on the dictionary, this French word means “whore” but the real meaning in the everyday life is the equivalent in English of “Fuck”. French people love to say it all the time. French people will express anything like hate, disappointment or happiness with this “Putain” (like “Fuck”). Important information, you might sometimes see a different spelling (on social media for example) with “Putin”.  Also the French people will be more likely to use the word “Pute” or “Trainée” for prostitute rather than “Putain”. 

Example: 

Putain, ça fait plaisir de te revoir.

Damn, it’s good to see you again.

Fait Chier [expression] / Chier [verb]

English translation: Fuck it – Damn it – It’s annoying

English Literal Translation: It makes me shit

I hope that you liked the English literal translation, it is quite illustrative. You will hear this swear word when the French are complaining about someone or something. You also hear “Tu me fais chier” literally translated into English into “You make me shit”.

Example:

Fait chier, j’ai raté mon train!

Damn, I missed my train!

La vache 

English translation: Holy cow

English Literal Translation: The Cow 

This French curse word would go to the “soft” category. It is not such an offensive French swear word.

Example:

La vache ! elle a couru un marathon !  

Holy cow! She ran a marathon!  

Oh mon dieu

English translation: Oh my God 

This is the exact translation of “Oh My God” but the French version is a little bit less fun with no acronym as “OMG” in English. 

Example:

Oh mon dieu ! Il y a eu un accident !

Oh my God! There was an accident!

Sainte-mère

English translation: Holy mother

A French religious interjection that you will hear more likely from an older person.

Example:

Saint-mère, il va neiger demain!  

Holy mother, it will snow tomorrow!  

Sa mère / Ta mère

English translation: Fuck

English Literal Translation: His mother / Your mother

This is a French swear word ruder than the previous one even if there is a word in common. There is a “Mama joke” culture in the French culture, probably only with the Caucasian French people. Regarding “Ta mère” it can be sometimes interpreted as a “shut up”.

Example:

Sa mère, je me suis tapé mon petit doigt de pied contre le meuble. 

Fuck, I hit my little toe against the furniture. 

Bordel 

English translation: Damn – Bloody hell

English Literal Translation: Brothel

This word has many meanings, the first one is to describe a brothel. The second one is to describe a big mess, in a room, for example. The last one is a French swear word that can be translated into English with “Damn”. One popular combination would be “Bordel de merde”, another one less usual that I like is “Bordel à cul”. 

Example:

Qui vient m’aider bordel? 

Who the hell is coming to help me? 

C’est quoi ce bordel ? [expression]

English translation: What the fuck? – What the hell?

English Literal Translation: What is this brothel?

“C’est quoi ce bordel?” is probably the perfect translation for the famous “What the fuck?”. 

Example:

C’est quoi ce bordel ? Tu portes une culotte ?

What the fuck? Are you wearing panties?

Nom de Dieu 

English translation: God’s sake – Holy shit

This is a blasphemous French insult that is equivalent in English to “God’sake”. It is mostly used when a person is gladly or badly surprised. 

Example: 

Nom de dieu ! Tu viens de péter dans la voiture ?

Holy crap! Did you just fart in the car?

General French Swear Words

One of the best examples is the scene in the movie Matrix with the character the Merovingian played by the French actor Lambert Wilson. In this part of the movie the character explains how beautiful it is to swear in French by illustrating with a long sentence “Nom de Dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d’enculé de ta mère”. A sentence of names birds (this is the polite way French people describe the word insult) that is even hard to remember for a French speaker.

Bête

English translation: Silly – Dumb 

A soft French swear word compared to the ones coming in the end. It means being very unintelligent or ignorant. There is the verlan version (learn more about verlan) with Teubé. There is an old expression with “Cette personne est bête comme ses pieds” translated into English “This person is as dumb as his feet”. The word could also express disappointment. Be careful, this word has another meaning in feminine,  it means in English “beast”. 

Example: 

C’est bête de ne pas en avoir acheté plus. 

It’s silly not to have bought more. 

Crétin [masculine] / Crétine [feminine]

English translation: Dumb – Fool

French word that means being not smart. There are many synonyms, here is a list:

  • Abruti [masculine] / Abrutie [feminine]
  • Sot [masculine] / Sotte [feminine]
  • Imbécile  

Example:

T’es crétin d’avoir ouvert le paquet de pâtes. 

You’re dumb for opening the pasta packet. 

Stupide 

English translation: Silly – Dumb

A French word that describes a person lacking intelligence. As an English speaker (if you are), you might want to be translated into “Stupid”. But be careful, in English this word has a stronger meaning than in French. 

Example:

T’es stupide de ne pas avoir tout révisé. 

You’re dumb for not having studied everything. 

Baltringue [feminine]

English translation: Punk ass

When a person is incompetent, useless. Important information, it is used in feminine for all genders. 

Example:

Ce mec, c’est une vraie baltringue. 

This guy’s a real bummer. 

Branleur [masculine] / Branleuse [feminine]

English translation: Jerk – Wanker

French curse word used to describe a person who spends most of their time doing nothing, a lazy person. You can make it softer by adding “petit” (=little) in front of “branleur”. 

Example: 

Il est resté chez ses parents et ne travaille pas, c’est un branleur !

He stays at his parent’s house and does not work, he is a wanker!

Con [masculine] / Conne [feminine]

English translation: Stupid – Bloody

This word in the first place describes the external organ of the woman’s genitals (nobody uses it to describe this part of the body). The second meaning is a curse word like “stupid” in English. Finally, the last meaning is to express disappointment. Weird things, French women love to use the masculine version for themselves instead of using the feminine word. 

Example:

C’est con que tu ne sois pas venu à la soirée.

It’s a shame you didn’t come to the party.

Casse les couilles / Pète les couilles

English translation: Pain in the ass – It’s super annoying 

English Literal Translation: Break the balls 

When someone or something really annoys you, this is the perfect vulgar expression. As you understood “couilles” is the French slang for “balls” or “nuts”. There is the adjective version “casse-couilles” to describe a person that is annoying. 

Example: 

Ça pète les couilles de se lever à 6 heures du matin.

It pisses me off to get up at 6 am.

Enfoiré [masculine] / Enfoirée [feminine] 

English translation: Bastard

A disloyal individual who shows no morals and respect. You can make it stronger with the following combination “Enfoiré de merde”. Actually, the exact translation of “bastard” is “bâtard” in French.

Example:

Qui est l’enfoiré qui a mangé mon repas ? 

Who is the bastard who ate my food?

Enculé [masculine] / Enculée [feminine] 

English translation: Fuck you – Asshole

English Literal Translation: Assfucked – Butt-fucked

French insult that is quite strong and has for translation “Fuck you”, “Fuck off” or even “Go fuck yourself” in English. This French cuss can be used when a person hurts himself or herself. You can make it stronger with a popular combination “Enculé de merde”.

Examples: 

Quel est l’enculé qui a cassé la vitre ? 

Who the fuck broke the window?

Je me suis enculé l’épaule au basket en tombant par terre. 

I fucked my shoulder playing basketball when I fell to the ground. 

Va te faire enculer [expression] / Enculer [verb]

English translation: Go fuck yourself

English Literal Translation: sodomize – bugger (UK)

This is a French verb meaning sodomize in English, the British equivalent would be “bugger”. In France, you will hear the expression “Va te faire enculer” especially in a French football stadium sung by the fans. You might also hear an insult like “aux chiottes l’arbitre” (to the toilet the referee).

Example:

Va te faire enculé et ne revient pas !

Go fuck yourself and don’t come back!

Connard [masculine] / Connasse [feminine]

English translation: Jerk – Cunt – Bitch

Insult designating someone who behaves in an annoying or inappropriate manner, due to a lack of intelligence, good manners.

Example:

C’est une connasse, elle m’a piqué ma place de parking!

She’s a bitch, she stole my parking space!

Trou du cul 

English translation: Asshole – Arsehole

French synonym: Trou de balle

This French swear word has the same translation and meaning as “Asshole”. This insult wants to show how bad a person misbehaving. 

Example:

C’est un trou du cul ce menteur !

He is an asshole this liar!

Lèche cul

English translation: Kiss ass

English Literal Translation: Lick ass

A “lèche cul” is commonly known as a person who will go to many lengths to look impressive, good, and worthy towards another person.

Example:

Il veut répondre à toutes les questions, un vrai lèche cul. 

He wants to answer all the questions, a real ass-kisser. 

Salaud [masculine] / Salope [feminine]  

English translation: Jerk – Bastard – Cunt – Bitch

French synonym: Salopard [masculine]

A person who acts with good conscience in an immoral manner. Those are popular French curse words in France.

Example:

Salaud, tu m’as bien eu.

Bastard, you got me good.

Fils de pute 

English translation: Son of a bitch

English literal translation: Son of a prostitute

French insult that you will hear in French movies or French series. There is even an acronym version FDP. Another less popular version would be “Ta mère la pute” (=your mother the prostitute). 

Example:

Je parle à toi le FDP. 

I’m talking to you son of a bitch.

Nique ta mère

English translation: Fuck your mother

Again another French insult towards mothers. It means in English “fuck your mother”. There is an acronym version with NTM. If you type this acronym on the internet, you might first find in the results an old-school French rap band. They went for the name “NTM” in order to shock the French society and the French media at that time. There is no bad advertising, right? You can learn more about this old-school French rap group in this article: 10 Old-School French Rap Artists: Back to Basics.

Example:

Nique ta mère, tu m’as fait mal !

Fuck your mother, you hurt me!

Niquer [verb]

English translation: To fuck – To screw up – To hurt

French synonym: Ken (verlan version of niquer)

“Niquer” is the rude version of making love, it would be translated into English with “Fuck” or “Bang”. There is a second meaning, it is “to screw up someone”, it is a quite popular expression. Finally, it can be used if someone hurts himself. Actually, the three meanings are used all the time by the French. 

Example:

Il t’a vendu la voiture trop chère, il t’a niqué.

He sold you the car too expensive, he screwed you.

Chieur [masculine] / Chieuse [feminine]

English translation: Jerk

English literal translation: Pooper 

A person who annoys bothers other persons. There is also the adjective version with chiant [masculine] / chiante [feminine] and the verb version as seen in this article with chier (fait chier).  

Example:

C’est un chieur ce type! 

This guy is a pain in the ass! 

Pétasse [feminine]

English translation: Bitch

French synonyms: Pouffiasse – Pouffe –  Grognasse – Garce

French swear words to address only to women the best equivalent is “Bitch” in English. It would describe a vulgar, pretentious, or dumb woman. You find so many synonyms in French with “Pouffiasse”, “Pouffe”, “Grognasse” or “Garce”. 

Example: 

Cette pétasse a pris la dernière part. 

This bitch took the last slice. 

Chatte [feminine]

English translation: Pussy

First and foremost, the first meaning is to describe the cat female. Another slang meaning is to describe the female sex. It is a vulgar way to describe it and both men and women are using it. Another less known signification by non-French speakers is to describe the luck of someone, the person has some pussy (avoir de la chatte). You need to check out the French tennis man player Benoît Paire, who is famous for having the habit of shouting “La chatte” when he loses a point against an opponent. But, in the French language, the word does not have the meaning of being scared. 

Example: 

T’as trop de la chatte au ping-pong! 

You are so lucky at the tennis table! 

Sale merde 

English translation: You piece of shit

English literal translation: Dirty shit 

Quite a straightforward French insult to address to a person that you do not appreciate or that you want to belittle him/her. There is another close French synonym “Merdeux”.  

Example:

Sale merde, t’as raté ton dribble. 

You’re a piece of shit, you missed your dribble. 

Sac à merde 

English translation: Scumbag

English Literal Translation: Bag of shit

A word used to describe those who are lowlife and have no real goals with their lives. This word is often used to describe those who do not have any morals. Another close French curse word is “Sac à foutre” translated into English as “Bag of Semen”. 

Example:

C’est un sac à merde ce vendeur.

This salesman is a scumbag.

Bite [feminine]

English translation: Dick

French synonyms: Queue – Zeub – Zizi 

The first definition is simply “Dick” in English. As a synonym, there is “queue” with the literal translation of “tail”. There is another meaning, “bite” can be used when someone is confused and does not understand anything.

Example:

Il bite que rien. 

he understands nothing at all.

Queutard

English translation: Manwhore – Fuck boy

French synonym: Chien de la casse (junkyard dog) 

French word to describe a man that only thinks with his tail “queue” in between his legs, he is then a queutard. This is absolutely not a romantic way to describe a man that is only thinking about sex. He would be described in English as “manwhore” or “horndog”. 

Example:

Il a trois plans culs en ce moment, un vrai queutard. 

He has three booty calls at the moment, a real manwhore. 

French swear words for Shut up

Tais-toi

English translation: Be quiet

Depending on the tone used, sometimes it can mean “shut up”. 

Example:

Tais-toi, je n’entends rien au téléphone. 

Be quiet, I can’t hear anything on the phone. 

Ferme-la

English translation: Shut up

English literal translation: Close it 

A straightforward French curse word, the person is asking another person to close it. By “it” the person means the mouth. 

Example:

Ferme-la quand je parle ! 

Shut up when I talk! 

Ta gueule / Ferme ta gueule 

English translation: Shut up 

There is even an acronym version with TG for “Ta Gueule” or FTG for “Ferme Ta Gueule”. The translation is “close your mouth” but in that case “gueule ”has a strong meaning because it is only used to describe animals’ mouths and not humans’ mouths. This is the reason this French swear word is rude. 

Example:

Ta gueule, on écoute de la musique.

Shut up, we’re listening to the music.

French swear words for Go away 

Va te faire foutre 

English translation: Fuck off – Fuck you

English literal translation: Go fuck yourself

The word, “Foutre” comes from the Latin futuere (to copulate). Appeared in the 19th century, “Va te faire foutre” is an insulting expression literally meaning to go and get fucked. If it has lost, nowadays, this sexual connotation, it remains an extremely vulgar expression.

Example:

Va te faire foutre et rentre chez toi! 

Fuck off and go home! 

Dégage

English translation: Fuck off 

English literal translation: Go away – Get out

The first meaning of the word is “ to remove something” but the second meaning is pretty negative. The equivalent in English would be “Fuck off”.

Example:

Dégage d’ici! 

Get the fuck out of here!

Casse-toi

English translation: Fuck off – Get out

English literal translation: Break yourself

It was in 1835 that the expression “se casser la jambe” (to break one’s leg) first appeared in slang, meaning “to run away”. This expression probably comes from the image of a person, running away too quickly, losing his balance, falling and breaking his leg. Nowadays, it means “fuck off”, “go away” or “run away”.

Example: 

Casse-toi au plus vite avant qu’ils arrivent !

Get out of here as fast as you can before they arrive!

French swear words for I don’t give a fuck

S’en branler [expression]

English translation: I don’t care –  I don’t give a fuck

English literal translation: I jerk myself

When a person does not give much importance to something and prefers to give him or herself some pleasure. A less offensive version would be “Je m’en balance”.

Example:

Je m’en branle de ce cours de maths. 

I don’t care about this math class. 

S’en foutre [expression]

English translation: I don’t give a fuck

French synonym: Rien à foutre [expression]

There are many uses for this French word. The first one, to take no notice of someone or something. Another meaning is to make fun of someone or something: “arrête de te foutre de moi” (stop making fun of me). This term is used in expressions, when a person gets angry or pissed off: “Il s’est foutu en colère” (he got angry). 

Example:

Je m’en fous du Nouvel An.

I don’t care about the new year.

S’en battre les couilles [expression]

English translation: I don’t care –  I don’t give a fuck

English literal translation: hit the balls

This is the perfect rude way to express your lack of motivation to process an action. It can also allow a person to show the low importance given to another one. There is a shorter version, it is simply a contraction of the expression and we get “Balec” or “Balek”. 

Example:

Je m’en bats les couilles de péter devant tout le monde. 

I don’t care if I fart in front of everyone. 

I hope that you enjoyed discovering those lovely French swear words. I bet now, it will make things easier for you to understand the dialogues for some French series or the lyrics for some French songs. As you could see, English is more limited in terms of swearing, using as a base, most of the time, the word fuck and ass. If you want to improve your knowledge about French slangs, I invite you to read two other articles about it now:

Work cited:

http://www.linternaute.fr/expression/langue-francaise/17985/dire-merde-a-quelqu-un/