14 French Curse Words Every Learner Should Eventually Know

  • Adrien Renault
    Written byAdrien Renault
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14 French Curse Words Every Learner Should Eventually Know

French curse (swear) words.

They might not be taught in typical French courses, but they’re still important to learn.

They’re used often in French movies. You may hear your French friends using them frequently depending on the circles you’re in. They’re also in many popular songs and music.

If you want to sound like a French native and have a full grasp of French, understanding French curse words is key.

They’re part of French culture - in the same way that English has its swear words as well.

With this in mind, I’ve put this guide together on some of the most frequently used French swear words. Enjoy!

LANGUAGE WARNING

There’s some colorful French language ahead. Not suitable for kids.

French curse words to use with people you know

Knowing French curse words can open your eyes to the essential meanings of French dialogues.

So, now let’s take a look at some frequently used French curse words to use with people you know.

Do you recognise any of these?

Ça me fais chier

The translation of this phrase shows how annoyed you are by a particular situation.

Ça me fais chier means ‘this pisses me off’. There are particular contexts where you would use this French curse word.

For example, if someone has scratched your car and driven away, you might say:

Ça me fait chier qu’un idiot ait pu faire ça à ma voiture.

It pisses me off that some idiot would do this to my car.

Merde

Merde is the French curse word for ‘shit’.

You can use it in similar contexts to its English translation.

Say you burnt your tongue when sipping a hot coffee, the word merde would be ideal for expressing your irritation.

Ce café est bien trop chaud. Merde. Je me suis brûlé la langue.

This coffee is way too hot. Shit. I burnt my tongue.

Note: It’s quite similar (same etymology) to the Spanish word for ‘shit’, which is mierda.

Dégage

Dégage is used in similar contexts to the French curse phrase ça me fais chier.

The only difference is that you would say it directly to the person you’ve been annoyed by, as it means piss off.

It’s strong French slang for telling someone to go away.

Putain

This French curse word might be used in similar contexts to the English swearword ‘fuck’ but it translates to English as ‘whore’.

If you wanted to say ‘damn it’, when you’ve dropped a glass on the floor, you could use this word.

Je m’en fous

Je m’en fous is like saying ‘I don’t care’ with a bit of oomph. In English it means ‘I don’t give a shit’.

You’re better off saving it for moments where your patience has been tested several times.

For example, if you’ve waited for your boyfriend or girlfriend for three and a half hours and they didn’t show up, you might say:

Je m’en fous de tes excuses. J’ai attendu pendant trois heures et demie.

I don’t give a shit about your excuses. I waited three and a half hours.

Fils de pute

In some songs or French series, you might hear this French curse word being used.

Fils de pute translates to English as ‘son of a bitch’, with fils meaning son, and pute meaning bitch.

This is another similar one to its Spanish equivalent hijo de puta.

I wouldn’t recommend using this one unless you’re looking for a serious confrontation.

Even then, I wouldn’t use it, as you are insulting someone’s mother.

Va te faire enculer

This French curse word translates to English as ‘fuck you’ or ‘go fuck yourself’.

Si tu es d’humeur à ça, va te faire foutre. Je n’ai pas envie de te parler.

If you’re in that mood, go fuck yourself. I don’t want to talk to you.

C’est des conneries

The French curse phrase c’est des conneries means ‘this is bullshit’ in English. It’s another one that you’ll hear often in French movies.

The protagonist might say:

C’est des conneries. La situation est merdique et on ne va nulle part.

This is bullshit. The situation is bullshit and we’re not getting anywhere.

Casse-toi

This one is similar to the French curse word dégage. It translates to English as fuck off.

If someone has been annoying you persistently for several hours, you might say to them:

Casse-toi et arête de m’enneyr. Tu es si enneyeux.

Fuck off and stop annoying me. You’re so annoying.

Mince

Mince isn’t exactly a strong French curse word. It translates to English as ‘damn’.

If you accidentally spill your drink, this is the ideal moment to use this French curse word.

For example:

Mince! J’ai renversé mon verre. Tu peux aller m’en chercher un autre?

Damn! I spilt my drink. Can you get me another one?

It’s similar to merde and can be used in similar contexts.

Nique ta mère

This one is an offensive French curse phrase. Only people looking for a big argument or fight use this one! You’ve been warned.

It means ‘f*ck your mum’.

Branleur

Use this French curse word if you want to insult someone. The British English equivalent would be ‘wanker’ or ‘tosser’.

It is similar to calling someone an idiot, but it has a vulgar, sexual connotation as well.

If your husband or wife has been cheating on you, you might say:

Sors de chez moi, branleur. C’est fini.

Get out of my house, wanker. It's over.

Chier

Like merde the French curse word chier means ‘crap’ or ‘shit’ You will have seen it in our earlier example ça me fais chier.

There are some phrases where chier means ‘pain in the ass’ or refer to ‘boredom’.

For example:

On se fait chier. Commence le film, idiot.

We’re so bored. Start the movie, idiot.

Tas de merde

We’ve mentioned merde already. Tas de merde is an extended version of this French curse word.

It translates to English as ‘piece of shit’.

You might use it when talking about your worst enemy.

C’est une personne stupide et odieuse. Un tas de merde.

He is a stupid obnoxious person. A piece of shit.

Best ways to learn and practice French curse words

With any vocabulary acquisition, when you learn a word you have to learn its meaning.

French curse words are no different.

You might start by writing all the curse words on flashcards and have their English translation on the other side of each card.

This is one conventional way to memorize them.

Then, you will need to know when to use them in context.

If you’re not yet confident with the French language, you could start by reading short texts that feature French swear words. This will help you understand when they’re required.

To state the obvious, formal and professional situations are probably not the best place for French profanity! 😊 You should test them on friends and close family members.

Also listen to French songs and watch French movies for context.

Practice some of these French curse words with friends and family (carefully)

Who can you practice these French curse words with when learning French as a beginner?

I’d recommend that you don’t practice them with your work colleagues or your boss! 😊 And you should definitely avoid using them with strangers.

Try to practice these with your friends.

This is ideal, as using French curse words should be done in informal settings.

If you’re doubting how to best use these phrases, pay close attention to how your friends use them (or just don’t use them at all!).


Have you got any more French curse words that aren’t mentioned here?

Write your contribution below in the comments section!

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek
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