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'Putain de bordel de merde': How to use the F-word in French

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'Putain de bordel de merde': How to use the F-word in French
French tennis player, Adrian Mannarino, reacts angrily on the court. Could he be about to swear? (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)

If there was a World Cup of swearing, the English language would surely win with the F-word - but what's the best way to translate the myriad of F-word phrases into French? We have prepared this guide, which unsurprisingly contains a lot of explicit language.


Perhaps one of the reasons why the French - and many other Europeans - like to use 'f*ck' is the word's incredible versatility. It can be a noun, a verb or an adverb and can mean that something is incredibly good, incredibly bad and virtually everything in between.

French does have its own very versatile swearword - the majestic putain - but it doesn't quite have the range of the F-word.

We've therefore put together this very foul-mouthed guide on the best ways to say 'fuck' in French.


Say you've spilled hot coffee on yourself, you've just discovered that the préfecture is closed after you travelled two hours to get there or someone is showing you something particularly insane on Twitter - you need an F-word for surprise, shock or incredulity.


Putain - Fuck [this literally translates as 'whore' but is used in French more as we would use fuck. If you want to actually call someone a whore, you use pute. Putain also has lots of non-fuck uses]

Fait chier - Fuck [literally - to make shit]

Merde - Fuck [shit] 

C'est quoi ce bordel? - What the fuck? [literally - what is this brothel?]

Tu te fous de ma gueule? - Are you fucking with me? 


Feel the need to shout abuse at someone or just express your dissatisfaction with the driving skills of your fellow motorists? Then you want an angry fuck. 

Putain de bordel de merde - For fuck's sake [the literal translation here is the majestic 'whore of the brothel of shit']

Va te faire foutre - Fuck off

Va te faire enculer - Go Fuck yourself up the arse. 

Ferme ta gueule - Shut the fuck up [shut your jaws]

Casse toi - Fuck off 

Je vais te niquer/défoncer - I will fuck you up 

Je t'emmerde - Fuck you [I put you in the shit]

Nique ta mère - Fuck your mum 

Nique ta race - Fuck you [literally this means 'fuck your race' - but the expression is commonly used between friends of the same ethnicity] 

Dégages-toi - Fuck off/leave me alone


In English the verb 'to fuck' is used an an explicit way to talk about having sex. In French there's less crossover between sex phrases and angry/surprised phrases, although niquer is a notable exception that can be used for both. Despite its origin as a word for a prostitute, putain is virtually never used in a sexual way.


Baiser - to screw/bang [used to talk about two people who have had sex, or perhaps a person that you've had sex with. It's not in itself offensive, although it is explicit] 

Niquer/Poutrer/foutre/défoncer - to fuck [again to have sex with, but more explicit and often aggressive]

Enculer - to have anal sex with [can be simply descriptive but is often used as an insult or threat]


Really, really don't care about your neighbours' opinions on the new recycling rules? If you have already explained that you're not interested you may need to wheel out the nuclear option and tell them that you don't give a fuck. 

Je m'en fous - I don't give a fuck 

Je m'en bat les couilles - I don't give a fuck [literally - I beat it against my balls] 

J'en ai rien à branler - I don't give a fuck [I have nothing to masturbate]


As a foreigner in France you're highly likely to fuck up from time to time, there's a lot to get your head around. If you're dealing with the mairie you might want to stick to the more polite j'ai fait une erreur, but there are times when you need to let rip and explain just how badly you have messed this up.

J'ai déconné - I fucked up 

J'ai merdé - I fucked up [I shitted] 

J'ai fait de grosses conneries - I really fucked up 

J'ai foiré - I fucked up 

J'ai foutu le bordel - I made a fucking mess



Don't believe those people who try to tell you that the French elegantly sip one glass of wine all evening. Sure, some do but others like to get drunk and the French language has a nice variety of phrases to describe the state of being inebriated, drunk, battered or simply fucked.

Je suis défoncé/foncedé - I am fucked up 

Je suis boussilé - I am wrecked/bollocksed

Je suis foutu - I am fucked up 

And a note on Fuck

The French like to use the English word 'fuck' - in fact they use it a lot and in situations that to an English speaker seem rather inappropriate.

For various reasons - perhaps because they tend to translate it as putain which isn't always particularly strong, perhaps simply because foreign words seem less shocking - the French generally have no conception of how strong fuck is.

You'll hear it said in front of kids, you'll even see kids wearing slogan T-shirts with it on.

READ MORE Why do the French love to say ‘f**k’ so much?

And just in case anyone was under the impression that the French are a polite nation who don't do in for much swearing, check out this video from a group of French humorists known as Les inconnus - who are sometimes compared to Monty Python. 

The clip features more than one minute of dialogue composed uniquely of the same three curses.



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