Have you ever heard the words 'putain', 'merde', 'bordel' in France or 'tabarnak' in Quebec? You can't really say you speak French if you don't know some French swear words. Thanks to this article, you will learn lots of swear words and insults to curse like a French person! And we also added some of the most common swear words from Quebec, Canada.
Mastering swear words in French will help you to immerse yourself in French-speaking culture. Some of these vulgar French words might make you feel a little uncomfortable or even shock you. But don't worry, if you offend somebody, you can always blame it on learning the language 😀
You won't learn these swear words in school. You might never hear them unless you spend some time in a French-speaking country or live with a French family. French movies are a great way to learn curse words but one has to be very careful to spot them.
Sometimes, we tend to ignore swear words because their vulgarity bothers us. However, a very serious study conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester in the USA, found that intelligent people are more likely to swear.
Still, you will have to overcome your embarrassment and prudishness to learn some of these words, but they could come in handy if someone flames you on Reddit. We have put together a list of swear words, curse words and insults that you must know to swear like the locals. Be prepared because some of them are pretty racy!
You can keep these French swear words and their audio pronunciation in your pocket by downloading French Translator Dictionary + for free on your iPhone & iPad, or Android device 📲
Definitely the most widely used French swear word. Literally, it means 'whore' but its use is close to 'fuck' in English. You can find it employed in many different situations to express anger, surprise and admiration. In short, a whole range of emotions. Despite appearances, it is not one of the most vulgar French swear words. But, of course, it depends on the context.
This is another of the most popular swear words in French. It translates directly into the English words 'shit' or 'crap'. It can be used to say that something is of very bad quality or that someone is a very bad person. It can also refer to feelings such as surprise or disappointment as in 'holy shit'.
Another of the most versatile French swear words. It literally means 'brothel' but it's use is similar the word 'putain'.
These are three very common combinations of the swear words explained above. All of them can be expressions of anger or frustration and can be translated as 'for fuck's sake', 'goddammit' or 'bloody hell'. Obviously, the combination using the greatest number of swear words i.e. 'putain de bordel de merde' shows the highest level on the scale of emotions!
A quite blasphemous swear meaning 'for God's sake' or 'holy shit' and that can be emphasized by adding 'merde', becoming then 'for shitty God's sake'. It can also be translated as 'goddamn'. Something for everyone!
This is the French Canadian version of 'putain'. 'Ostie' comes from the word 'hostie' which means 'host'. This swear word is clearly blasphemous, like most Quebec swear words. It's used like the f-word in English.
Another blasphemous swear word as it comes from 'tabernacle' which is the small piece of furniture where the hosts are stored. It can be translated as 'holy shit' or 'holy fuck'.
It could be translated as 'Christ' as 'crisse' is a contraction of that word but it's closer to 'holy shit'.
A superior version to 'crisse' but a bit stronger so closer to 'holy fuck'.
A blasphemous word again referring to the Christian sacraments. It's used like the f-word in English but is even stronger.
The English equivalent of this word is 'bullshit'. It refers to something we are told but don't believe, or that we think doesn't make sense. It can also refer to actions when you do something stupid, as in 'faire une/des connerie(s)'. In this case, it would be mean 'to screw up' or 'fuck up'.
Originally, 'con' was the sex of a woman. Today, it's an insult to call someone an idiot, a 'twat' or a 'jerk'. It can also be translated into 'cunt' when insulting a man.
There are many equivalent of the swear word 'connard' or 'connasse' in English. 'Tosser', 'twat', 'jerk' are a few.
This rude French term is employed in many different contexts. You can catch 'une saloperie' in which case it might give you a cold of fever. You may have eaten 'une saloperie' if you get sick from food. Somebody could play a dirty trick on you that would be referred to as 'une saloperie'. A public rubbish bin can be full of filthy saloperies. And a person can be a real saloperie or an 'asshole' in English.
'Salaud' is a swear word for someone who is misbehaving, or who has a reprehensible moral attitude. It can also refer to a behaviour or action. For instance, when your teacher gives you a bad grade and you think it's unfair. You will think they are a 'bastard'.
'Salopard' is similar to 'salaud' but stronger and closer to 'scumbag'.
This is the feminine version of 'salaud'. But, as usual with swear words targeting women, it mostly refers to her sexual behaviour and can be translated as 'whore', depending on the context. It can also be used to insult a man but with no sexual connotation. Using the feminine version of 'salaud' to insult a man has the same meaning than 'salaud' but stronger i.e. even more insulting.
A swear used to call a woman a 'whore'. It's worth noting that 'pute' is stronger than 'putain'. It can also be used to insult a man in the exact context of the term 'salope' explained above.
This swear word to use to insult women only. It can denote sexual behaviour but could also be used to describe a bad or very unpleasant woman. It can be translated as 'bitch'. In the Middle-Ages, 'garce' was the feminine of 'gars' which means 'boy'.
Another swear word to call a woman a 'whore', 'slut' or 'tart'.
This French insult designates a woman who does not dress or behave with class, with an extravagant attitude or outfit, and who's not very clever. There's no real equivalent in English but it could be translated as 'floozy' or 'bimbo'.
'Chatte' means 'female cat'. It's also a very vulgar word to say vagina and is thus the equivalent of 'pussy' or 'cunt'. Unlike in English, this is not an insult and is not used to call a man a coward.
'Plotte' is the vulgar Quebec word for the sex of a woman. It's funny to know that this word comes from the French term 'pelote' which means 'a ball' of wool.
Literally 'pile of shit', the equivalent expression in English is 'piece of shit'. On a similar note, you can hear another version using the word 'grosse' i.e. 'big' instead of 'pile' like 'grosse merde'. Both are used to tell someone all the contempt we feel for him/her.
This insult refers rather to a person's physical appearance since it means 'big pile'. It's not strictly speaking vulgar but it's quite offensive.
The literal translation of this insult is 'hole of the arse/ass'. It corresponds exactly to the English expression 'arsehole' or 'asshole', which describes quite well how little respect you have for someone.
The literal translation of this insult matches exactly the insult 'arse-licker' in English.
This is the Quebec version of 'lèche-cul'. 'Téter' meaning 'to suckle' in French, this typically Quebec swear word can also be translated as 'cocksucker'.
This is the French equivalent of the internationally known 'son of a bitch'. It goes without saying that this term is very offensive!
This is the vulgar term for testicles and is equivalent to 'bollocks' or 'balls'. It is used in many expressions such as 'Je m'en bas les couilles', literally 'I beat my bollocks with it'. Its abbreviated version, BLC (Bas Les Couilles), is an example of French internet slang for texting. It can be translated as 'I don't give a fuck'.
'Couilles' is the vulgar French term for testicles and therefore corresponds to the English words "bollocks" or "balls". The exact translation is 'ball-breaker' or 'ball-buster'. It's employed when someone or something is particularly annoying, either intentionally or unintentionally, and generates a lot of anger or frustration. The closest translation is 'pain in the arse/ass'.
The literal translation of these expressions is 'break the bollocks' (UK) or 'bust your balls' (USA). This can be used to swear in a similar way to the term above, except that it's the verb and can be translated as 'piss off'.
This is the vulgar French swear for the verb sodomize, the equivalent of 'bugger' (UK). It's used in the very common expression 'Va te faire enculer'. It can be translated as 'Go fuck yourself', but 'Fuck off' or 'Fuck you' work too.
Although this insult is employed more often for men than women, it can target both. Its literal translation is 'buggered' but the insult itself doesn't refer to sex. It's used to call someone an 'asshole' or 'cocksucker'. When adding the adjective 'petit' to get 'petit enculé', which is a common insult, it is then closer to 'little shit' or 'little fucker'.
The French equivalent to 'wank' (UK) or 'jack off' (USA). This swear word means to 'not give a fuck' i.e. 's'en branler' or 'n'en avoir rien à branler'. It can also mean to do nothing like 'j'ai rien branlé de la journée' or when you're waiting for someone who does not show up i.e. 'qu'est-ce que tu branles ?'.
Unlike its literal English translation 'wanker' or 'tosser' in the UK, this term is not vulgar, but it's not nice either! It refers to someone lazy or good for nothing.
The verb version of emmerder i.e. 'to cover with shit'. It can be employed in many different ways such as 'ça m'emmerde' (this sucks), 'je m'emmerde' (I'm so fucking bored) or 'je t'emmerde' (screw you). 'Emmerder quelqu'un' means 'to piss somebody off'.
This expression literally means that someone 'covers with shit'. It refers to someone who annoys or bothers us and can be translated as 'pain in the arse'.
This is the French equivalent to the vulgar verbs 'shit' or 'crap'. Its use is similar to emmerder' but it's more vulgar way to swear. So it can also be used in many different expressions such as 'ça fait chier' (that sucks), 'je me fait chier' (I'm so fucking bored), 'faire chier quelqu'un' (to piss somebody off) and 'être à chier' (to be crap).
In the same vein, 'chieur' means 'someone who takes a shit'. It refers to a person who annoys or bothers you and can be translated as 'pain in the arse'.
A slightly different version of 'chieur/se' that means 'someone who makes you take a shit'. It's employed in the same context so it can also be translated as 'pain in the arse'.
As in English, there are many French swear words to say penis such as 'bite', 'nœud', 'pine', 'queue', 'zob', etc.
This is the exact translation of 'dickhead' but its meaning is a bit different. In French, it's used to call somebody an idiot.
This word is built as the word 'fêtard' which means someone who likes to party (fête in French). A 'queutard' is someone who likes to use his 'queue' or 'dick'. In other words, someone always thinking about sex and trying to have sex with anybody. This swear word can be translated as a 'horndog' or 'manwhore'.
The French Canadian version of 'queutard'.
'Gueule' is the mouth of an animal. This expression can be employed in many different ways i.e. 'Ta gueule', 'Ferme-la', 'La ferme' or the most vulgar of all 'Ferme ta putain de gueule' i.e. 'Shut the fuck up'. In depends on your degree of exasperation!
'Foutre' can be either a noun or a verb. As a noun, it's the vulgar word for 'sperm' and is equivalent to 'cum' in English. As a verb, it means 'fuck'. In the case of this vulgar French expression, it literally means 'Go and get fucked'.
'Crosser' is the vulgar word for 'masturbate' so an equivalent translation to 'go and wank yourself' would be 'fuck off'.
The exact vulgar French equivalent to 'fuck' or 'screw'. It can mean either to 'have sex' or to 'swindle' someone.
This very offensive insult means 'Fuck your mother' but its English equivalent will rather be 'Fuck you', with obviously a higher degree of vulgarity. NTM, the acronym for 'Nique Ta Mère', is also the name of a famous French rap group formed in the late '80s.
This is a rather new and very vulgar expression literally meaning 'your/his/her mother the whore'. It can be applied to many situations. Its equivalent in English could be 'son of a bitch' or even 'fuck off', but it's sometimes used like 'fucking hell'.
Want to speak French like the French? You should love these articles:
- French love words and phrases
- French songs to learn the language
- Funny French idioms
- French slang words and phrases
- French internet acronyms
Have you written an article about learning French? If it's good, we might link to it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
Looking for an app offering lessons with interactive exercises to practice French words and sayings? Download Learn French + for free on your iPhone or iPad.
Bonne chance à tous bordel de merde !
Lead French linguist