Let’s talk about swear words! When you're speaking with Italian people, watching Italian TV or listening to Italian music, one thing's for sure; you will come across Italian swear words.
Therefore, learning some basic Italian curse words is a vital part of the learning process. You need to ensure you can follow social situations and pop culture in Italian so you don't miss anything interesting.
So, today we'll run down some of the most common and fun Italian swear words and provide some context to them. But first, let's look at why you should learn Italian bad words and where to start.
Why You Should Learn Italian Swear Words
Whether or not you plan on using Italian curse words in your everyday conversations, it is a good idea to know at least the basics. This will help you to understand your friends' jokes and other social situations that could otherwise be confusing.
Moreover, if you listen to Italian music or podcasts, or watch Italian TV, you will miss some of the context when - inevitably - Italian swear words crop up.
Finally, knowing and using curse words is one of the best ways to speak Italian like a local. If your aim is to express yourself like a native speaker, using slang, colloquialisms and the odd curse word will help.
So, a basic knowledge of Italian swear words can take your language acquisition to the next level!
How to Learn Curse Words in Italian
Now that you know why you should learn some basic Italian curse words, let's look at how to learn them.
We have listed some of the most common and useful Italian swear words below, and this is a great starting point for your learning.
Beyond that, it is a good idea to engage with Italian-language media, such as podcasts, music, YouTube videos, and other social media content. Most content created by a native Italian speaker to entertain will contain slang and swear words.
One of the best ways to learn swear words is to watch TV shows and movies set in Italy. The characters use slang terms and bad words in authentic situations, which helps viewers understand their meaning.
Hearing Italian swear words in context makes their meaning and usage much more clear than learning them in isolation.
Moreover, with TV shows and movies, you can study the characters' pronunciation, as well as their body language and tone, to gauge how offensive the swear words are.
Italian Swear Words and Phrases
Before you head over to Lingopie, the streaming platform that boasts a lot of great Italian-language TV shows and movies handpicked for learners of all levels, let's run through some basic Italian swear words.
The F Word
Cazzo is the Italian word most often associated with the English f word, however, it is not a direct translation. It can also be translated as "dick" or "damn".
- Cazzo! - Damn!/ F*ck!
- Che cazzo?! - What the f*ck?!
- Che cazzo dici? - What the f*ck are you saying?
- Testa di cazzo - Dick head
The more mild form of cazzo is cavolo, which means "cabbage".
If you exclaim cavolo!, it is a bit like saying "holy smoke!"
Another common Italian swear word involving the f-bomb that you might have heard is vaffanculo.
This Italian curse word means "f*ck off" or "go f*ck yourself (in the ass)". The most literal translation of vaffanculo would be "go do it in the ass". Il culo means "asshole".
Other Popular Italian Swear Words (and Phrases)
- Merda - Sh*t
- Pezzo di merda - Piece of sh*t
- Mangia merda e muori! - Eat sh*t and die
Merda is a good swear word to know because it crops up in a lot of creative ways, as you can see from the above examples.
- Bastardo - Bastard
- Stronzo/a - This very vulgar word means asshole, like il culo, but it can also mean bugger or sh*t
- Che palle! - What balls!
- Fica - Pussy/ c*nt (this vulgar word for female genitalia can be used as an exclamation of shock)
- Testa di minchia - Sh*t head/ dick head
- Puttana/ zoccola/ troia - Slut/ bitch/ whore (same meaning)
So, figlio di puttana literally means "son of a bitch"
Now you have plenty of Italian words and phrases to express yourself next time you're in a bad mood. Just remember that insulting someone's mother in Italy is a pretty serious offence!
Some Milder Bad Words
- Coglione - Balls
- Stare sui coglioni - Find someone annoying (this literally translates as "stand on testicles")
- Mi hai rotto i coglioni - You're annoying me (but this literally means "you've burst my balls")
- Sei proprio un coglione - You're such an idiot
Coglione is another useful word that opens a lot of doors for swearing opportunities in Italian.
- Lecchino - Ass licker/ Kiss-ass (literally: "little licker")
- Sfiga - Bad luck (quite crass)
- Mezza sega is a hilarious Italian insult that literally means "half a saw", though colloquially it would translate as "half a wanker". This refers to someone so useless, they can't even finish their own job.
It's worth noting that there are many dialects in Italy, and between northern and southern Italy, there's a pretty huge difference in how people speak and which expletives are deemed ordinary swear words.
If you want to learn Italian bad words relevant to specific regions, it is a good idea to watch TV shows set in those areas.
Expressing Shock or Anger With Italian Curse Words
Next, if you're going to learn to speak Italian, you'll need to know how to express anger like a native, as this is a big part of the Italian vernacular! Here are some simple but great angry Italian phrases.
- Madonna santa - Good god!/ For God's sake!
- Madonna! - Good god!/ For goodness sake!
Both of these exclamations literally mean "blessed Mary!"
- Mortacci tua! - Your Feeble ancestors!
This one can also translate as "your dead relatives!" Ouch...
Couple any of these phrases with a classic Italian pinched-fingers hand gesture to get your point across loud and clear.
Italian Swear Words: The Prevalence of the Pig
Next on our list of Italian cuss words that express amazement, anger, or shock, we have the many, many phrases featuring the word "pig".
- Porca puttana - f*cking hell! (literally: "Pig whore")
- Porca troia - f*cking hell! (literally: "Pig sow", or "pig slut")
- Porca miseria - f*cking hell! (literally: "Pig misery")
- Porco Giuda -f*cking hell! (literally: "Pig Judas!")
- Porco Dio - f*cking hell! (literally: "Pig God")
- Porca Eva - f*cking hell! (literally: "Pig Eve"- Yup, we're still blaming Eve for the Original Sin...)
- Porco cane - f*cking hell! (literally: "Pig dog")
- Porca vacca - f*cking hell! (literally: "Pig cow")
Porca vacca might be translated as "holy cow!", though it has a slightly more vulgar edge than this English expression.
You get the idea. All of the above Italian expressions can also be translated as "bloody hell", "holy crap", "for God's sake", and other similar crass English exclamations of dismay or shock.
FAQs: Learning Italian Curse Words and Phrases
What is the Italian swear word in friends?
In the classic TV sitcom Friends, Joey can be heard on more than one occasion saying va fa Napoli. This phrase is also used in The Sopranos and other American shows featuring Italian-American characters.
It is not an expression used in Italy. The phrase is idiomatic, but translates as something close to "go to Naples", implying "go to hell".
Va fa Napoli a play on words in Italian and a more polite way of saying vaffanculo.
What is the most surprising expletive in the Italian language?
There are a lot of very intense and vulgar Italian curse words, but possibly the most surprising is fica, which is generally translated as c*nt.
To an English speaker, this word is incredibly strong and unpleasant, but in Italian, it can actually be used to express admiration, as well as a curse word.
If you found something excellent or really cool, you can call it fica.
I don't want to use Italian curse words, so why should I learn them?
You might not want to use Italian swear words, but it is still important to be aware of them. Knowing their meaning will help you to understand social situations and Italian TV and music.
Moreover, learning Italian curse words will help you build your vocabulary and get a deeper insight into Italian society and culture. Italian swear words can be very informative.
are Italian swear words different from English swear words?
Italian swear words are very different from English ones as they reflect Italian culture and sensibilities. For instance, blaspheming in Italian is generally seen as much worse than saying "oh my god!" in English.
Italian swear words also tend to be phrases rather than individual words, which might seem strange to a native English speaker.
Summary: Learning Italian Curse Words
Hopefully, this brief guide to understanding Italian swear words has inspired you to incorporate curse words into your language-learning journey.
The more swear words and phrases you know, the more you can fit in with your Italian friends and enjoy Italian-language content online.
Explore Italian music and TV shows and start to note interesting or funny Italian swear words that you come across. This will give you a deeper insight into the Italian culture, and the tone of the media you're enjoying.And don't forget to check out Lingopie, the streaming platform that offers great TV shows and movies in 8 popular languages, including Italian. Che figata! (how cool!)