Swear Words! Shocking French Slang (And How to Soften It)

Bonjour !

Some French slang sounds disgusting–especially when you try to translate it literally.

They’re colourful (but mostly brown), and thrown around quite liberally in everyday situations.

Which words are we swearing with? What do they really mean? What alternatives can you use instead? Let’s find out, “bordel”!

Et toi ?

What is your favorite French swear word?

Which swear word do you use most in your language?

Which softer alternatives would you suggest?

Bonne journée,

Géraldine

Join the conversation!

  • I read about “serre-moi” that has a sexual connotation, I know it means “hold me”, but I do not understand how or in what situations has a sexual connotation. What is your opinion? Is it too vulgar?

  • Une autre question:
    Est-ce qu’il y a des jurons qu’on peut insérer au milieu de la phrase pour augmenter le degré des émotions exprimées?
    Comme “the fuck” en anglais (“what the fuck is he doing?”, “where the fuck are you going?”)

    Merci!

  • Bonjour, Géraldine! Merci beaucoup pour tes videos! Ils sont vraiment utils!

    Je suis russe et dans notre lingue il y a le système des jurons un des plus developpés (c’est une vraie langue “autonome” qu’on peut parler sans utiliser les mots dits littéraires)
    Donc en russe il y a certaines “grosses” racines composant tous les formes grammaticales nécessaires (noms, verbes, adjectifs et adverbes)
    Par exemple:
    Хер (nom) – une queue
    Херня (nom) – un truc (un peu comme “bordel”)
    Охереть (verbe) – être etonné; être chiant
    Херовый (adjectif) – très mauvais, de très mauvais qualité
    Херово (adverbe) – très mal

    Ces mots-là sont mi-gros, il existe des formes plus et moins forts (mais c’est quand même familier et impoli):
    Фигня -> херня -> хуйня (“un truc” – de formes du moins au plus gros)

    Alors la question est la suivante:
    Y a-t-il en français la possibilité de construire des autres formes grammatiques utilisant les jurons communs?
    (Comme “bordel – bordélique”)

    Merci en avance!

  • I must admit that I use swear words in English, and I have some words I use to soften the swear words. Here are a few: f*ck – fudge (softer), shit – shoot or snap (softer), damn – darn (softer), what the f*ck – what the fudge muffin or what the “F” or “WTF” (softer). I think we generally swear a lot in the US in colloquial speech. It’s very common. My favorite french swear words are: merde, putain, connard, et des conneries. I’ve seen “putain” translated as “f*ck” in French movies and TV shows a lot. I’ve heard a lot of French swear words in movies and television as well. I’m sure it’s similar to the way Americans use our slang and swear words. We use slang and swear words like adjectives to blow off steam. And it does feel good sometimes!

  • In 1965, when I was in college we read “Le Mur” by Jean Paul Sartre. At the end of the story, there is an expression, which was not translated. The note said, “This is an obscene expression. Strike it from your vocabulary.” I have always wondered what it said. Do you know? Merci. Ellen

  • On aime parler les langues bien et c´est pour ca que je n´utilise pas les jurons ou les mots a ne pas dire. On n´aime pas ! Absolument pas ! Pas en allemand, pas en francais, pas en italien, pas en portugais. Seulement en espagnol par-ce qu´il faut. La langue maternelle c´est toujours importante. C´est la langue qu´on peut bien sentir. Les autres langues seront toujours les autres langues. Si on recois des gros mots en autre langue, on sent rien. Pas de vrai sentiment. Ca va si on écoute..” va t´en faire la foutre ! “. Ca fait pas du mal. Mais si on recoit la meme phrase dans la langue maternelle et de quelqu´un qui t´interesses…alors…ca fait trop mal. C´est comme celá. C´est bon de savoir des gros mots en francais mais le sentiment c´est pareil si on écoute les gros mots sur la rue. On se fiche. On s´en fou ! Salut !

  • Merde, is the only French swear word I ever use. I like it, it’s direct and
    straightforward and so you can’t really get it wrong. I think if you’re
    going to swear in a language that’s not your first language you need to
    be pretty fluent and confident of what you’re saying.

    The great old English Hollywood actor David Niven had a wonderful
    story about the Hungarian director Michael Curtiz making a mess of his
    English, much to everyone’s amusement. He’d called for the “empty horses”
    to be brought on set. What he’d meant was the riderless horses, and
    Niven and his co-star Errol Flynn had laughed at him. Curtiz then became
    annoyed and got it wrong again when he shouted at them “you people, you
    think I know fuck nothing; I tell you, I know fuck all”.

    Absolutely priceless …

    And to think I was going to pack in swearing for Lent ! You’ve ruined that
    plan for me Géraldine .. a great lesson ~ merci, merci.

    Time for lunch ..

    salaud, tout le monde ……………………………………..

  • I try not to swear in another language unless I am SURE that my accent ins perfect! When foreigners swear in English it just makes me giggle because it sounds so silly. My favorite put-down is “Ecrase!” or “Charogne!”

  • Je me souviens quand Jean Dujardin a reçu l’Oscar pour meilleur comédien et il a dit, “putain génial.” J’ai l’impression que cette expression est positive !

    • Bonjour Keith,

      Oui ! Je me souviens !
      En effet, et surtout dans cette situation, c’était positif.
      Il me semble qu’il y a eu des histoires car il utilisé ces mots, par contre…

  • Merde and putain are ones that spring to mind mostly. I once referred to a boulangère as a ‘conne maussade’ (not to her face I hasten to add) it made the person I was talking to laugh, but I think I used the C word by mistake ?? Oops.
    My favourite British swear word is wanker, which I use quite a lot while driving! I think it is branleur in French but I haven’t heard it used…maybe I’m just very rude.
    And of course, if in polite company and a swear word slips out, we say, ‘excuse my French’
    Merci Géraldine.
    Fiona

      • “Branleur”? I’ve never heard of it. Maybe you can make a follow-up video with that word, and the expression you used in response to Paul Robinson below, for starters? Or perhaps ask your American friend who speaks such good French to give her opinion as to which swear words are “congruent.”

        As an example, a French friend of my acquaintance was telling a story in English, and at one point he said, “The guy called me a ‘cunt’.” I was really surprised, until he explained that the original word used was “con”. (Another word to use in one of your lessons? You could include the famous phrase “casse-toi, pauvre con”.)

        “But Philippe, ‘cunt’ is not a good translation for ‘con’!” I replied. He said he knew that. I guess it’s the phonetic similarity between the two words that caused that mistake (In fact, in American English, “cunt” wouldn’t be used to insult a man, unless you wanted to imply that he wasn’t fully ‘masculine’. In British English, I’m told, it’s used quite a lot.)

        {As for me, I won’t use “putain” in French because of its base meaning, just as I won’t use “motherf—er” in English; why bring the guy’s poor mother into it?}

  • Et mon cul est poulet frequently jumps from my foul mouth, without thinking. I find here in the chnord swearing is a martial art, with many younger French mixing both French, Ch’ti dialect, and English, to let out a jet propelled torrent of swear words. Rarely do I swear in English now, except the odd time when I am (often) nearly flattened or become a hood ornament, by kamikaze drivers, on pedestrian crossings. Arse! is my usual word of reaction. You have to like a language that differentiates between male and female connards and conasses, etc. It is an absolute art form, and I am continually learning more day by day, after nearly five and a half years, especially from my stepson gueuler a le XBox! Bon continuation biloutes (try and find a consistent translation for that!) from the 59.

    • Bonjour Paul,

      On dit “Et mon cul, c’est du poulet”. 🙂
      (Pour dire “tu te moques de moi ? / Je ne te crois pas”)

  • In English I am inclined to use “Oh shit” when something goes wrong. Or to soften it a bit, so to speak, I use “Oh poop”

  • Je n’ai pas appris que “J’arrive pas à…” veut dire “Je ne peut pas..”! Est-ce que une phrase plus correct que une autre? Quand j’etais une enfant ma mère diserais, “Vache!” au lieu de “Merde!”

    • Bonjour,

      Ne pas arriver à = I can’t (but I’m trying)
      Ne pas pouvoir = I can’t (I can’t even try)

      Les 2 phrases auront un sens différent.

      En effet, on peut aussi dire “La vache” pour éviter un gros mot.

  • A youngish French person said to me ( jokingly ) what the f….k ! I am not young and, although it didn’t offend me, it could someone else. He seemed to find it funny and didn’t know the significance of it.

  • What about Con/Conasse ? – I’ve heard this translated as both idiot and C**T – a major difference in rudeness between those two in English !

    • Bonjour Dan,

      It’s not at strong as c**t.
      I’m no expert in the strength of insults in English (it also depends on the country), so I can’t say precisely.
      Probably stronger than idiot.

      • Thanks Geraldine – it’s actually translated as the C word in the subtitles for “Elle” the latest film with Isabelle Huppert – I was surprised – like you I think it’s a lot milder than that

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