Curse Words in the French Language: Using French Swear Words Like a Pro

If you’re bilingual or multilingual, chances are you’ve been asked the question “can you teach me some swear words in your language?”

We humans love to learn new curse words and truth be told, we all need to let some steam off once in a while! Learning how to curse is actually an important part of becoming fluent in a new language, especially if you’re trying to learn French.

If you’ve ever watched a French movie or series you will notice how much the French like to swear. They’ve always got a curse word ready on the tip of their tongues.

Busy metro? *curse word*

Stuck in traffic? *curse word*

Forgot to bring wine to the dinner party? *extra big curse word*.

Are the French just a bit more liberal when it comes to cursing compared with other countries? Maybe so.

Related: 15 French Slang Words and Phrases You Need to Know [Language Tips]

The funny thing is, they even manage to make swear words sound beautiful! If you’re trying to learn how to speak French like a native, (yes- even with the curse words) we highly recommend you take a look at our selection of French movies and videos at Lingopie.

Listening to the French language being spoken by real natives is essential if you want to become fluent. In France, cursing is used not only to express anger and frustration, but just about every single possible emotion. It can be quite humorous!

Today we’re going to teach you all the naughty words your teacher wasn’t allowed to teach you in French lessons at school, and more importantly how to use them properly in sentences so that you can sound like a native.

Recommended: The Ultimate Guide to Learning French Fast

Some of these curse words are widely used and not considered to be highly disrespectful, but others can come across as extremely harsh and you will have to think twice before blurting them out loud.

Excited? Me too. Let’s take a look:

1. Putain

‘Putain’ is definitely the most commonly used French swear word. If we translate it literally into English it means ‘whore/ prostitute’, but in France it is used as ‘fuck’ or even ‘shit’.

You can use ‘putain’ in almost every situation: anger, frustration, desire, joy, sadness, exaggeration, surprise. Trust me, the only limit is your imagination.

It’s not the harshest French swear word out there, but I would still avoid using it around children. A common phrase used in France when someone is really mad is ‘Putain de merde’. It means something along the lines of ‘fucking hell’.

Here are more examples:

Putain, tu m’as fait peur!   Fuck, you scared me!

Il fait une putain de chaleur! Its so fucking hot!

2. Merde

‘Merde’ is another popular curse word- perhaps not as popular as ‘putain’ but it is still used a lot. Merde translates as the English ‘shit’ or ‘crap’. It is used when you want to describe something that is of bad quality, for expressing disappointment, or for expressing having messed something up.

You may hear these expressions in France with the word ‘merde’:

Tu as merdé - You messed up

Bordel de merde - for fuck’s sake

  1. Connard/ Connasse/ Con

Connasse is the feminine version of connard. As you can probably guess, con is the shortened version for both.

The English equivalent for this insult would be ‘asshole’, ‘jerk’ or ‘cunt.’ This curse is generally used to describe someone you really dislike, or for when someone is acting a bit stupidly towards you.

Because it is quite a strong insult, be careful when using it. A popular expression used in France is ‘C’est con’. This simply means ‘It’s dumb.’

Here is another example:

‘C’est un vrai connard!’ - ‘He’s a real asshole!’

  1. Dégage

Fingers crossed you won’t have to, but this is the curse word you will need if you want to tell someone to get lost. Depending on how angry the speaker is, ‘dégage’ can mean an unkind ‘get out of my way’ or ‘move’, to a full explosive ‘fuck off!’

Ouch!

Example:

‘Dégage, j’essaie de travailler!’ Get out of here, I’m trying to work!

5. Va te faire foutre

The English equivalent of ‘va te faire foutre’ is a very rude ‘go fuck yourself’.

This phrase is not to be used lightly. You will hear it when a person is extremely angry or pissed off. It’s also quite vulgar so I would encourage you not to use it (unless you find yourself in a scenario where the other person has really been asking for it!)

6. Je m’en fous

‘Je m’en fous’ is a strong way of expressing that you don’t care about something. The closest translation would be ‘I don’t give a fuck’.

I would be careful with this expression because it is easily confused with the other common French phrase ‘Je m’en fiche’. ‘Je m’en fiche’ is a lighter way of saying ‘I don’t give a damn.’

So please, for the love of God don’t say ‘Je m’en fous’ to your boss at work or to any of your school teachers. You will find yourself in a lot of trouble.

For reference, a more polite way of saying ‘I don’t mind’ is ‘Ça m’est égal’ (it’s all the same to me).

7. Ta gueule

‘Ta gueule’ is a great French expression because it is short, snappy and gets straight to the point. It also sounds pretty cool.

‘Ta gueule’ means ‘shut up’ or ‘shut your face/gob’ in French.  However, this isn’t the most polite way of telling someone to be quiet (stick to tais-toifor that).

A gueule is an animal’s mouth, so now you can see why it comes across as disrespectful.

You definitely won’t want to use ‘ta gueule’ in formal situations. But when you want to demand silence in an abrupt way, that’s when you would throw it in.

8. Salope/ Salaud

Salaud is the masculine noun, whereas the feminine is salope. These curse words are definitely not pleasant- they mean bastard (salaud) and bitch (salope). Salopederives from the French word sale, which means dirty, so it is also used frequently to refer to a woman with loose morals.

Quel salaud!- What a bastard!

Salaud, tu m’as bien eu! - Bastard, you really had me fooled!

9. Bâtard/ Bâtarde

You probably guessed this one as it looks similar to the English curse word- it’s the French word for bastard. Bâtarde (with the added e) is used for the feminine.

Bâtard, tu vas me le payer! Bastard, you’ll pay for this!

10. Niquer

Niquer is a vulgar way of saying “to make love”. Translated into English it would be to “fuck” “screw” or to “bang”. Be very cautious if you are to use this word- as I said, it is extremely vulgar.

Niquer can also mean “to screw someone over” , so remember it can be used in different contexts.

For example:

Il m’a bien niqué, avec ses promesses- He really had me, with all his promises.

11. Zut

This is perhaps the least vulgar, (but extremely useful) French curse word out there. It means “darn” or “damn” and you can use it in many situations. For example, if you spill your tea on the floor you can say “zut alors!” which means “damn it!”

This is the safe option if you want to curse! (And it’s so easy to remember!)

12. Fils de pute

“Fils de pute” means “son of a bitch” or “son of a whore” in English. So yeah… it’s definitely not a nice insult to throw at somebody. It’s useful to know what it means, but I would avoid using it at all costs!

13. Tabarnak (Quebec)

I thought I would include a French Canadian curse word on this list. This word is purely used in Quebec- you will not hear it in France.

‘Tabarnak’ has the approximate meaning of “holy fuck” in English. It is considered both vulgar and offensive.

Summing up: 13 French Curse Words You Need To Know

So there you have 13 of the most commonly used French curse words. If you are able to include some of them when speaking French, this is great! Swear words are good ways of expressing yourself a little better, exaggerating certain emotions and to just sound a bit more French!

Be mindful of who you are talking to though! You don’t want to put yourself into an awkward situation.

To further your French learning, have a look at the 13 best French movies for beginners. Watching movies is one of the best ways to pick up new French words and to improve your listening skills.

Related: The 14 Best Shows to Learn French on Netflix

Sign up to our 7-day free trial at Ligopie and take a look at our wide selection of French series and videos. How about challenging yourself to see if you can pick up any spoken swear words whilst watching our shows?

Bonne chance!

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