Bienvenue French learners! Let's talk about French swear words and why we should learn them. For one thing, they are a significant part of the culture of France, and for another, they're a lot of fun.
The French language boasts many colorful expressions and obscene words, some of which we will explore today. However, the best way to learn curse words is in context.
When it comes to learning French curse words, TV shows and movies are great resources.
So, we'll also suggest that you stream the acclaimed French thriller series Lupin for quality exposure to the language and some choice of swear words.
Why You Should Learn French Swear Words
You should learn French curse words because they are a significant aspect of the vernacular. You will be hard-pressed to spend an evening with French people without hearing a few vulgar words and crass expressions.
So, when learning to speak French and join in with social situations, it helps at least to understand some of the bad words. You will also have a better understanding of French culture by learning the expletives.
French movies and TV shows are great teaching tools when it comes to picking up swear words. By watching shows like Lupin, you gain natural exposure to crass French words in context.
You can learn how to use them authentically and gain insight into which words and phrases can be used as a joke, and which should be reserved only for extreme circumstances!
Check out the French TV shows and movies available to stream on Lingopie, the streaming service designed for language learners.
How to Learn French Curse Words with Lupin
Learn Words in Context
The main reason why you should use TV shows like Lupin to learn expletives is that they demonstrate how to use French swear words in context.
When you see a character use a popular French swear word, you can gain insight into when it is appropriate to use a said curse word.
Many French television channels do not censor obscene words, though some reality TV shows and shows earlier in the day will. When you stream French content on Netflix or Lingopie, you can rest assured the expletives will be present in all their glory for optimal learning.
Write Down New Vocabulary
When you come across a new vulgar word, you should note it down. Then, every time you hear a swear word, you will have more context and points of reference to determine its meaning and correct usage.
You can even make flashcards with French curse words and test yourself. This is a great way to track your progress, as each day you use the cards, you will notice that you have learned a new curse word.
Use the Speech Shadowing Technique
To work on your accent and pronunciation, you can pause the TV show and repeat the French swear words just as they were said on Lupin. This is a popular method for developing the correct mouth movements and tone when speaking French.
While it might seem odd to sit alone in your room, telling your television va te faire foutre! it is a learning method that greatly benefits your speaking skills.
Use Them in Real Life
Finally, if you have the opportunity, you could try to use a swear word or two in real life. Disclaimer: we are not suggesting that you walk into your local grocery store and call the first person you see a "son of a bitch"!
It will only be possible to practice using these words if you have a close friend who speaks French and with whom you have this kind of relationship.
In that instance, you will have a safe space to use French curse words in a humorous situation and they can correct your usage or pronunciation as and when it is needed.
Now, let's have a look at some great French expletives! We will provide the actual meaning of each and a close English translation.
Common French Curse Words: A Rundown
Colorful Words and Phrases
- Salaud/ salope - Bastard/ bitch
These words derive from the French word sale, which means dirty. Salope is used to refer to a woman with "loose morals". You might also hear a French person shout sale gosse!, which means "rotten kid!" This is a bit like the English word "hooligan".
- Merde - Shit
- Putain - Whore/ damn
While this word literally means "whore", it is used like English speakers use "fuck" or "shit". Just as English speakers use the f-word in a variety of contexts and situations, putain can be used to express anger, excitement, shock, sadness, or even humor!
- Putain de merde - Fucking shit
The common phrase putain de merde combines two of the most popular French curse words, putain and merde. Although these words literally translate as "whore" and "shit", they come together to form the French equivalent of "fucking shit" or "fucking hell".
- Putain de bordel de merde - For fuck's sake
It is a bit difficult to come up with a literal translation for this popular French swear, as it combines putain ("whore"), merde ("shit"), and bordel, which means "brothel". Essentially it is a stream of profanities, a bit like saying "fuck, shit, fuck!" in English, or something similar.
More Expletives with the F Word
- Va te faire foutre - Go fuck yourself
- Va te faire enculer - Go fuck yourself
Both of the above expressions are extremely vulgar ways of saying go and masturbate. The English equivalent would be "fuck off" or "go fuck yourself." As you can see, they are colorful expressions and should be used with care!
- Je m'en fiche - I don't give a crap
- Je m'en fous - I don't give a fuck
In English, this would be considered a vulgar form of language. However, in French, je m'en fiche is pretty mild.
On the contrary, je m'en fous is moderately rude. It is best not to use je m'en fous in polite company.
Popular Vulgar Phrases
- Foutre le bordel - Piss around/ make a bloody mess
- Nique ta mere - Motherfucker
- Fils de pute - Son of a bitch
- Connard/ Connasse (feminine version) - Jerk/ asshole
Con is a shortened version that can be used for both the male and female genders.
- (Ça me) fait chier - It pisses me off
You can also just say fait chier for short. Ça me fait chier is like "this fuckin' sucks", so it is mildly vulgar.
- Ferme ta gueule - Shut your mouth
Or, simply ta gueule for short. La geule is an animal mouth, so by saying ferme ta gueule, you are saying "shut your animal face". This is like the English words "shut your trap" or "shut your hole".
- Gros tas - Fat slob
This nasty French insult refers to a person's physical appearance.
Oh My God!
- Bon sang! - Good grief!
This interjection literally means "good blood!" but in English, we would say "for heaven's sake" or, in the UK, "bloody hell".
- La vache! - Holy cow!
You can also say mon Dieu! "my God!" or sacré Dieu "holy God!" to express shock, although the latter dates from the Middle ages and is pretty old-fashioned now. La vache is not vulgar and you can use it at your discretion in most social situations. It's like the English word "goodness!"
FAQs: French Swear Words
What is the most vulgar french swear word?
As the French love to swear, it is tough to come up with the most vulgar French curse word. However, of those listed above, putain de bordel de merde is pretty shocking.
Va te faire enculer is also very vulgar and should not be used in most social situations, unless you mean to cause offense or you are very good friends with the recipient of this insult!
Is Sacré Bleu offensive?
The phrase sacrebleu is an outdated French expression meaning "sacred blue". It comes from sacré Dieu ("holy God"), but it was changed to bleu to avoid blasphemy.
This is not a bad word and it is not in common usage, despite the stereotypes. Exclaiming sacrebleu! in France would be like shouting "holy cow!" in the US; not wrong or particularly rude, but perhaps a little odd.
Do the French curse a lot?
Yes, the French are known for swearing a lot. This is one of the reasons why it is worth knowing at least the common French swear words.
Even if you prefer never to say putain de bordel de merde, fils de pute and the likes, you should at least be aware of what is being said around you (or - God forbid - to you!)
What is the most popular french swear word?
The word putain is very popular and versatile, so it comes up a lot in TV shows and casual gatherings. Merde is also a very popular French curse word among learners and native French people alike.
Summing Up: Learning French Swear Words with Lupin
As you can see, there is no shortage of French curse words and obscene phrases. Whether or not you intend to incorporate swear words into your French vocabulary, it is worth learning at least the popular curses.
You will be able to join in with social situations better and understand more fully TV shows and other aspects of French culture. Lupin is a great resource for learning curse words, as it is brilliantly written and puts expletives in context.Remember to head over to Lingopie for more great French TV shows with interactive transcripts and subtitles. With a bit of practice, you'll be cursing like a French person in no time!