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German is known for being a rough language to speak so it is no wonder that it has its fair share of profane words. While swear words in Spanish or French may sound juicy and passionate, German swear words, on the other hand, sound more intense and harsh.
Unsurprisingly, most German swear words can sound extremely offensive or insulting, so you should be careful about who you say it to.
Fortunately, there are profane words that are less serious and relatively more acceptable than others. So if you want to vent out your anger by cursing, there are some curse words that you can say without unintentionally offending someone.
Before we get into the list of all curse words in German, let’s talk about why learning profanity words is a must and definitely worth your time.
You’re probably wondering why you should learn German swear words if you can’t use it freely anyway. It this section, you’ll find the answer to your question.
Spanish textbooks and online lessons typically drive us towards learning the proper way of speaking German. It is the reason why profane terms are often overlooked.
While these words may have unpleasant meanings, it remains crucial when learning a new language. Disregarding swear words may make it difficult for us to understand and engage in informal conversations in which profanity frequently pops up.
Remember that we are learning a new language to be able to engage in both formal and informal discussions. It’s not every day that we’ll be talking formally. At some point, we’ll be having fun with close friends and family and there will be an abundance of curse words being thrown around casually. And when that happens, you need to be able to understand it at the very least. Who knows? Someone might already be calling you stupid in a foreign language but you just didn’t understand.
While it is unlikely that you’ll be using these German words on a daily basis, it is still essential to be aware of them. Consider it as a learning opportunity to further immerse yourself in becoming a fluent or near-native German speaker.
Here’s a list of all curse words in German arranged starting with the most acceptable profane words then move on progressively to the most horrible ones.
This one tops off the list because this is arguably the most acceptable curse word you can utter when you absolutely have to. When literally translated from German to English, Der Mist means dung, manure, rubbish, or non-sense. It is used as a swear word in the exact same way. See? It’s pretty tolerable, right?
However, you should keep in mind that it may also be used in some compound words such as “der Mistkerl” or “das Miststück”, which has relatively more vulgar meanings. The former means “bastard” or “dirty swine” while the latter means “bastard” when referring to a male and “bitch” when referring to a female.
“Der Mist, ich habe meine Brieftasche vergessen.”
“Crap, I forgot my wallet.”
This is the equivalent of the English curse word “shit”. Sheisse is a very common, yet mild curse word that is often casually thrown around. As a matter of fact, even kids say it and you may hear this swear word among German locals as frequently as you hear the word “stupid” among English speakers.
“Sheisse, Ich bin zu spät für meinen Termin.”
“Shit, I am late for my appointment.”
The swear word Verdammt translates to “Damn” or “Damn it” in English. It is a great way to express your frustration when you’re having a bad day. Perhaps you missed the bus or you’re late to an appointment, saying Verdammt works quite well to any unfortunate circumstance you may be experiencing.
Additionally, this curse word is fairly acceptable to use even when you have company as this curse word isn’t directed to a person in particular, but rather an ill-fated situation. So, don’t worry too much about saying Verdammt, go ahead and feel free to say it whenever you’re having an awful day.
“Verdammt! Ich habe meinen Flug verpasst.”
“Damn it! I missed my flight.”
Pronounced like “Kvatch,” this curse word is one of the most commonly used terms when expressing your anger. While this may not have an exact equivalent word in English, it pretty much means “Nonsense!” It is the perfect word to say as a comeback to someone who is talking nonsense.
“Quatsch! Nichts von dem, was du sagst, ist wahr.”
“Nonsense! None of what you’re saying are true.”
This swear word is originally derived from the German word Schleichen, a verb that means “to creep”. However, when combined with the word dich, its meaning changes entirely.
The curse word Schleich dich translates to “get lost,” a popular slang phrase in English. This is a versatile profane word that can be said whether you’re just joking or you really mean it. Also, it’s not too harsh or vulgar so you can say it even around the presence of polite company.
“Was machst du hier? Schleich dich!”
“What are you doing here? Get lost!”
Confused? Bewildered? The phrase Was zur Hölle got you covered to express exactly how you feel. Basically, it is the equivalent of the common English phrase, “What the hell?”
“Ich habe mein Auto hier geparkt, aber jetzt ist es weg. Was zur Hölle?”
“I parked my car here but now it’s gone. What the hell?”
Do you ever wish you can just shout “Son of a bitch!” in a foreign language to express your extreme frustration towards a person? Do you ever wonder if there’s any way to say it?
“Son of a bitch!” is probably one of the most over-used English curse phrases, so it’s marvelous that it has an exact equivalent in the German language, which is “Sohn einer Hündin!”
Obviously, this one is a little more offensive and vulgar so you should be cautious about your company when you say it.
“Dieser Bastard hat mein Geld gestohlen. Sohn einer Hündin!”
“That bastard stole my money. Son of a bitch!”
Now, we’re getting a little more personal. Literally, depp translates to douchebag in English. However, it is most commonly used as an insult when referring to someone who’s an “idiot”. It also covers a wide range of other similar insults from “jackass” to “dipshit”.
Do you think someone’s being a fool? Perhaps a moron? The curse word “depp” most likely defines that person.
“Hör auf so ein Depp zu sein.”
“Stop being such an idiot.”
Leck Mich literally translates to “Lick me,” and it is also exactly how it is used as a curse word. Remember the common English phrase “Bite me”? Well, “Leck Mich!” is pretty much how you say it in German.
Its variation—Leck mich am Arsch!—literally translates to “Lick me on the ass.” Simply put, it is the German equivalent of the familiar English insult phrase “Kiss my ass.”
If you want to say this phrase in a less explicit way, simply replace the word Arsch with Hintern to say “Kiss my butt” instead.
“Wollen Sie damit sagen, dass ich Ihnen einen Gefallen tun soll? Leck mich am Arsch!”
“Are you saying you want me to do you a favor? Kiss my ass!
“Möchten Sie Geld ausleihen? Leck mich am Hintern!”
“You want me to lend you money? Kiss my butt!”
While the exact translation of this phrase is “Go to the devil,” it is most commonly used to say “Go to hell.” When someone is bothering you or they’re simply being annoying, you can say this phrase to tell them to go away. This phrase is enough to tell someone that you don’t want them around.
“Was machst du in meinem Haus? Geh zum Teufel!”
“What are you doing in my house? Go to hell!”
There are ways to curse or insult someone without saying a word. That’s what gestures are for.
English speakers raise their middle finger towards someone as a way to say “Fuck you!” without actually saying it. This is a gesture that is often casually thrown around, either jokingly or to mean serious offense.
In German, there are three common offensive gestures:
While the majority of the world’s population uses the OK hand sign as a way to imply that things are going very well. The Germans, on the other hand, uses this gesture to depict the word “asshole”. This offensive gesture is typically accompanied by the insult phrases “Leck mich am Arsch!” or “Leck mich am Hintern!”, which means “Kiss my ass” and “Kiss my butt” respectively.
Among German speakers, pointing your index finger towards your head while looking at somebody is deemed offensive. This gesture is most commonly used as a way to tell someone that what they’ve just done or said is stupid. So the next time a friend does or says something idiotic, look at them straight and point your index finger towards your head. That should be a sufficient message to communicate what you want to say.
Another common gesture frequently used by Germans is the hand sign implying that someone is acting a bit mad. This gesture can be done by cupping your hand and waving it in front of your forehead. To further emphasize what you mean, you can do this gesture and form a bewildered facial expression simultaneously.
There you have it: 10 swear words in German along with some of the common offensive gestures!
Now, you can walk the streets of Berlin and Munich with confidence knowing that you can understand what they’re talking about, especially when they start throwing curse words here and there.
And as you may already know, swear words should be used sparingly and should not be taken lightly. As much as possible, try to limit your use of profanity. Your very close friends and family may be lenient about it, but you’re not sure how a German local you barely know will react.
Now that you have some swear words in your pocket and you’re aware of the gestures that are considered offensive among German speakers, you’re one more step closer to reaching your goal.
Learning profane terms in a foreign language is a huge achievement for a language learner like you. You should celebrate!
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