French swear words are incredibly colorful. But use it in the wrong way, and you’re heading for trouble.
Each swear word in French comes with its own opportunities to use it. From stubbing your toe on the table, joking around with friends, or expressing your anger towards someone.
Or if you’re just tired of swearing in your own native language, you can always mix it around by using French swear words. The good news is, studies show that swearing and cursing can reduce stress levels. And let’s face it, we all face some situations when a good swear word can make things better.
If you’ve set a goal of sounding like a French native speaker, learning swear words can also help you feel more yourself. Especially if you regularly swear in your native language.
Now let’s get to the meat of the post. In today’s article, we’ll share 19 of our favorite French swear words and rate them based on 3 profanity levels. This way, you can select which ones you should use based on each situation. Hope you enjoy, and share this article out with a friend who may be learning French!
19 French Swear Words That You Thought Were Innocent (NSFW)
Harmless to Low Vulgar (Level 1 Profanity)
These can be used when you’re murmuring profanity words to yourself or when you’re joking around with friends. Let’s say, you’re playing an intense game of basketball, you can always pull these words out, as they’re usually harmless. Caution: That is, as long as you don’t express it in a harmful way.
1. Merde (Mer-d)
Merde is probably one of the most common swear words the French use to express mild frustration. It means ‘shit’ and it’s used the same way we use it in English. It’s at the heart of most French words. Merde. See how easy it is?
2. Putain (Poo-Tan)
Now this is a fun word to use. No, this isn’t the food that the Quebecois are known to eat (Poutine), where fries are mixed in with gravy and cheese. The literal word means ‘Wh*re’ but people use it as ‘F*ck.’ Say you miss an important basketball shot, you can use it harmlessly to express your frustration.
3. Salaud (Sa-lowd)
Bastard. And the best part? It’s only supposed to be used for men (points for the ladies). Most French words are used to reference women unfortunately, so this is a nice change of pace.
4. Ta guele (Tah-Guel)
Ever wanted to tell a friend to be quiet. But you wanted a less classy way to them? Ta guele is your go-to, as it means ‘Shut up.’ Make sure you’re just using this with people that you’re friendly with, as it can be quite offensive to say to strangers in French. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
5. Imbécile (Im-beh-ceel)
Similar to the words above, you want to use this with people that you’re close to. It’s harmless when you say it in a joking, friendly way to tease your friends. But using it with people you don’t know is a big no-no.
6. La Vache (La-Va-Che)
Holy cow or oh crap. This is usually used in several ways. Perhaps you want to express how surprised you are when your friend shares some juicy gossip, or when you’re stunned at something that went terribly wrong. It’s fairly harmless, and can be used in however many ways you want. Get creative with this one!
7. Zut alors (Zut-Ah-lores)
Similar to ‘La Vache’, Zut alors means darn. And it can be used in the same manner.
8. Mince! (Mance)
If you want something a little stronger than ‘darn’ you can say ‘Mince’ which means damn. Again, this is a more polite way of expressing how surprised you are or disappointed. It’s usually a popular word that’s used when young children are around.
9. Fais chier (sa-meh-fey-CHIay)
This word is commonly used to tell someone how pissed off you are. The translation is ‘this pisses me off’ and it can be a quite vulgar way to express your anger.
Oh damn, you mad (Level 2 Profanity)
OK, let’s step it up a notch. The children aren’t around, and you’re about to get serious. Level 2 French swear words are about to be presented, and all we can say is: use with caution! These aren’t your typical exchanges that you would have with friends, and even when used with close friends, they can be seriously offended. Nevertheless…
10. Files de Pute (Feels-de-pute)
Literal translation? Son of a Bitch/Wh*re. Yep, we all know this English swear word, and the use of it is not much different. But you know what happens whenever you bring up mothers into the equation.
11. Branleur (Brahn-lure)
This one’s a classic, and pulled out when you need to do some serious name-calling. The translation is ‘wanker’, a popular swear word used by the English (and Australians?).
12. Dégage! (Deh-ga-geh)
If ‘ta guele’ isn’t enough to tell someone to bugger off, then dégage may just do it. It means to ‘piss off’ which you may use with friends or with people that you’re just seriously annoyed with. Again, we’ll let you use your own discretion.
13. Brûle en l’enfer (Brool-ohn-lawnfer)
This one may not seem like the worst profanity out there, but it’s been around for centuries. It means ‘Burn in hell.’ The context and the way you express it will alter how offended someone could get, so we’ll just leave this one here.
14. Enculer (ohn-cool-ay)
Oh you were probably waiting for this classic. F*ck you. This will never get old, and if you thought it was only the English that used this to express ourselves, think again!
15. C’est des conneries
OK, so you saw that we shared three different ways to express your disappointment when young children are around. To recap, ‘la vache’, ‘zut alors’, ‘mince’. When they’re gone, ‘C’est des conneries’ is what you can use, as it means ‘This is bullsh*t!’
16. Je m’en fous
Looking to show someone attitude because they crossed you in some way? Telling them that ‘you don’t give a f*ck’ always does the job.
17. Connard/Connasse/Con – Assh*le/ b*tch
Last but not least. We’ve got ‘connard’ to finish off our list. This is a harsh way to name-call someone, and can also be a stronger way to call someone an idiot.
Oh my god, how could you say that? (Level 3 Profanity)
Alright, now we’re in the danger zone. If you thought the above words were bad, then you may want to cover your screen if you’re at work. This is definitely NSFW zone. 99% of us reading this will probably not need to use this level of profanity, but who knows?
18. Nique ta mere! – *#$% your mother
You can probably guess what *#$% translates to, and it doesn’t get any more direct and vulgar than that. Be prepared for a fist coming your way if used inappropriately. Or at all.
19. Va te faire foutre – Go f*ck yourself
This is just a much more vulgar a way to get the job done. You’re probably up to the clouds of anger by using this swear word. We already feel bad for the other person (and you for whatever they must have done!)
If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out our post on Spanish swear words.
Now over to you. Which of these French swear words did you already know, and are there any useful ones that we missed on our list? Share it with us below!
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