For members


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

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.

French tennis player, Adrian Mannarino, reacts angrily on the court.
French tennis player, Adrian Mannarino, reacts angrily on the court. Could he be about to swear? (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)

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 – F*ck [this literally translates as ‘whore’ but is used in French more as we would use f*ck. If you want to actually call someone a whore, you use pute. Putain also has lots of non-f*ck uses]

Fait chier – F*ck [literally – to make shit]

Merde – F*ck [shit] 

C’est quoi ce bordel? – What the f*ck? [what is this brothel?]

Tu te fous de ma gueule? – Are you f*cking 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 f*ck. 

Putain de bordel de merde – For f*ck’s sake [the literal translation here is the majestic ‘whore of the brothel of shit’]

Va te faire foutre – F*ck off

Va te faire enculer – Go F*ck yourself up the a**. 

Ferme ta gueule – Shut the f*ck up [shut your jaws]

Casse toi – F*ck off 

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

Je t’emmerde – F*ck you [I put you in the shit]

Nique ta mère – F*ck your mum 

Nique ta race – F*ck you [literally this means f*ck your race – but the expression is commonly used between friends of the same ethnicity] 

Dégages-toi – F*ck off


In English the verb ‘to f*ck’ 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 – F*ck [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 – F*ck [again to have sex with, but more explicit and often aggressive]

Enculer – F*ck [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’ ongoing dispute over 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 f*ck. 

Je m’en fous – I don’t give a f*ck 

Je m’en bat les couilles – I don’t give a f*ck [literally – I beat it against my balls] 

J’en ai rien à branler – I don’t give a f*ck [I have nothing to masturbate]


As a foreigner in France you’re highly likely to f*ck 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 f*cked up 

J’ai merdé – I f*cked up [I sh*tted] 

J’ai fait de grosses conneries – I really f*cked up 

J’ai foiré – I f*cked up 

J’ai foutu le bordel – I made a f*cking 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 f*cked.

Je suis défoncé/foncedé – I am f*cked 

Je suis boussilé – I am f*cked [wrecked]

Je suis foutu – I am f*cked up 

And a note on F*ck

The French like to use the English word f*ck – 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 f*ck 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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For members


Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

Plumbing ermergencies are common in France, so here's our guide to what to do, who to call and the phrases you will need if water starts gushing in unexpected areas.

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

How do I find a reliable plumber and avoid getting scammed?

First, try to stick with word-of-mouth if you can. Contact trusted individuals or resources, like your neighbours and friends, or foreigner-oriented Facebook groups for your area (ex. “American Expats in Paris”). This will help you find a more reliable plumber. If this is not an option for you, try “Pages Jaunes” (France’s ‘Yellow Pages’) to see reviews and plumbers (plomberie) in your area. 

Next, educate yourself on standard rates. If the situation is not an emergency, try to compare multiple plumbers to make sure the prices are in the correct range. 

Finally, always Google the name of the plumber you’ll be working with – this will help inform you as to whether anyone else has had a particularly positive (or negative) experience with them – and check that the company has a SIRET number.

This number should be on the work estimate (devis). You can also check them out online at If you want to be extra careful you can also ask to see their carte artisan BTP (craftsman card). 

READ MORE: What is a SIRET number and why is it crucial when hiring French tradesmen?

Who is responsible for paying for work?

If you own the property, you are typically the one who is responsible for financing the plumbing expenses.

However if you’re in a shared building, you must determine the cause and location of the leak. If you cannot find the origin of the leak, you may need a plumber to come and locate it and provide you with an estimate. You can use this estimate when communicating with insurance, should the necessity arise. 

If you are a renter, the situation is a bit more complicated. Most of the time, water damage should be the landlord’s responsibility, but there are exceptions.

The landlord is obliged to carry out major repairs (ex. Natural disaster, serious plumbing issues) that are necessary for the maintenance and normal upkeep of the rented premises (as per, Article 6C of the law of July 6, 1989). The tenant, however, is expected to carry out routine maintenance, and minor repairs are also to be paid by the tenant. If the problem is the result of the tenant failing to maintain the property, then it will be the tenant’s responsibility to cover the cost of the repair.

Legally speaking, it is also the tenant’s responsibility to get the boiler serviced once a year, as well as to maintain the faucets and joints, and to avoid clogging the pipes.

READ MORE: Assurance habitation: How to get home insurance in France

If you end up in dispute with your landlord over costs, you can always reach out to ADIL, the national Housing Association which offers free legal advice for housing issues in France. 

What happens if the leak is coming from my neighbour’s property?

Both you and your neighbour should contact your respective housing insurance companies and file the ‘sinistre’ (damage) with them.

If you both agree on the facts you can file an amiable (in a friendly fashion), then matters are much more simple and you will not have to go through the back-and-forth of determining fault.

If having a friendly process is not possible, be sure to get an expert to assert where the leak is coming from and file this with your insurance company.

As always, keep evidence (lists and photographs) of the damage. Keep in mind that many insurance providers have a limited number of days after the start of the damage that you can file. Better to do it sooner than later, partially because, as with most administrative processes in France, it might take a bit of time.


Plumbing has its own technical vocabulary so here are some words and phrases that you’re likely to need;

Hello, I have a leak in my home. I would like to request that a plumber come to give me an estimate of the damage and cost for repairs – Bonjour, j’ai une fuite chez moi. Je voudrais demander qu’un plombier vienne me donner une estimation des dégâts et du coût de la réparation. 

It is an emergency: C’est une urgence

I have no hot water: Je n’ai pas d’eau chaude

The boiler has stopped working: La chaudière ne fonctionne plus.

I cannot turn my tap off: Je ne peux pas arrêter le robinet.

The toilet is leaking: Mes toilettes fuient.

The toilet won’t flush/ is clogged: Mes toilettes sont bouchées

There is a bad smell coming from my septic tank: Il y a un mauvaise odeur provenant de ma fosse septique

I would like to get my electricity / boiler safety checked: Je souhaiterais une vérification de la sécurité de mon installation électrique / de ma chaudière

I can smell gas: Ca sent le gaz

My washing machine has broken: Ma machine a laver est cassée

Can you come immediately? Est-ce que vous pouvez venir tout de suite?

When can you come? Quand est-ce que vous pouvez venir?

How long will it take? Combien de temps cela prendra-t-il ?

How much do you charge? Quels sont vos prix? / Comment cela va-t-il coûter?

How can I pay you? Comment je peux vous payer ? 

Here are the key French vocabulary words for all things plumbing-related:

Dishwasher – Lave vaisselle

Bath – Baignoire

Shower – Douche

Kitchen Sink – Évier

Cupboard – Placard

Water meter – Compteur d’eau

The Septic Tank – La fosse septique

A leak – Une fuite

Bathroom sink – Le lavabo

The toilet – La toilette

Clogged – Bouché

To overflow – Déborder

A bad smell – Une mauvaise odeur

The flexible rotating tool used to unclog a pipe (and also the word for ferret in French) – Furet 

Water damage – Dégât des eaux

The damage – Le sinistre

And finally, do you know the French phrase Sourire du plombier? No, it’s not a cheerful plumber, it’s the phrase used in French for when a man bends down and his trouser waistband falls down, revealing either his underwear or the top of his buttocks. In English it’s builder’s bum, in French ‘plumber’s smile’.