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How to swear in Italian
The Italian language has a wide repertory of swear words or parolacce.
They’re used in everyday conversations, especially the milder bad words.
If you ever had a conversation with an Italian in a bar, you certainly know that these Italian expressions are as common as ciao and grazie.
Italian swear words are a form of literature and the Italians take great pride in their swearing.
In traffic, within families, in lovers’ quarrels… It’s how they show affection!
They’re often accompanied by funny Italian hand gestures.
Like them or not, they’re a fun way to learn the Italian language.
In this post, you’ll learn a lot of swear words in the Italian language that you can use to vent your anger or frustration and plenty of ways to insult someone in Italian.
You should definitely avoid using these Italian curse words (yeah…), but it’s always good to be prepared just in case someone screams one of them at you.
- What is the F word in Italian?
- What are some Italian swear words?
- How do you say B * * * * in Italian?
Let’s explore the true beauty of Italian insult and the wicked humor of their swearing.
Italian profanity, beautiful
The Italian language has a large set of inflammatory terms and phrases, almost all of which originate from the several dialects and languages of Italy, such as the Tuscan dialect, which had a very strong influence on modern standard Italian.
Several of these words have cognates in other Romance languages, such as Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian and French.
Profanities differ from region to region, but a number of them are diffused enough to be more closely associated with the Italian language and featured in all the more popular Italian dictionaries.
The respected singer Luciano Ligabue — Italy’s Bruce Springsteen — picked this title for his latest single: “E’ venerdì, non mi rompete i coglioni” (“It’s Friday, Don’t Break My Balls”).
Learn Italian phrases and expressions with swear words
Italians are using more and more parolacce (Italian curse words). In private conversations, within the family, in public life, on mainstream media, and — of course — on social media.
Did you know that among the various dialects there must be three hundred or more names for the male and female genitalia?
Personally, I wouldn’t call them swear words, but rather scientific jargon for body parts.
My favorite expressions are the ones that blaspheme using the emphatic name of the pig or swine for starters.
Porca madonna, porca miseria, porca puttana, porca vacca, porca puzzola are the most common and are straightforward.
There is also porca eva, still blaming Eve for original sin, porca troia, much like porca puttana, and porcata, something you don’t want to hear, see, or do.
People who use these expressions come from all walks of life and represent both genders.
In that sense, Italian swear words put people together.
Indeed, that’s not the kind of words you’d learn watching the news in Italian.
Is it ok to swear in Italian?
Are Italian swear words that bad, after all? It depends on culture.
The biggest difference between the Italian and American cultures in this regard is that Italians don’t often take these expressions personally.
The fact is that “Vaffanculo” (the Italian curse word for f||k) is such a common expression in Italy today that it can also be said jokingly between friends and will ten times out of ten get a laugh.
“Che cazzo dici?” (what the hell are you saying? — “cazzo” actually means phallus) is another.
Sure, there are cutesy euphemisms like “cavolo” – which means cabbage, instead of “cazzo“. These are not necessarily Italian bad words.
However, substitute words attract no less attention than the bolder ones do.
Using the right curse word in the perfect moment is pretty much the same as having told a hilarious joke.
People love it to make a “bella figura” (a good show), which is not the same as making a good impression.
A gratifying gesture is more important than good behavior. That could include Italian swear words.
Passion and humor are at the core of Italian society and, if those things might be considered irresponsible at times, Italians can always repent with a few Hail Marys and start again.
Parolacce (Italian curse words, or dirty words) are part of the Italian people’s everyday vocabulary.
They are used by students, housewives, actors, blue and white collars to express feelings and emotions. And by politicians too.
Italian swear words can add punch to a political speech in a piazza, where feelings are more important than thoughts.
Swearing in Italian politics
Swear words in Italian are compelling forms of personal expression that everyone uses in often humorous and very human contexts.
Even politicians like Berlusconi freely expound profane language as a way of appearing more like everyday folk and less like aloof VIPs. In his case, it’s yet another form of propaganda for attracting voters.
During a political speech in 2006, he was quoted for saying he has too much esteem for Italians to think they would be coglioni (Italian curse word for “assholes”, literally means “balls”) and vote against their own interests.
Sure, Berlusconi is crude, but his supporters like it. They see him as a man who tells it like it is.
Take the famous Vaffanculo Day (V-day for short) held in Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore in 2007 and led by stand-up comedian and political activist Beppe Grillo.
The event united hundreds of thousands of fed-up Italian voters who are tired of hosting a self-indulgent and lethargic government largely populated by criminals and money launderers linked to the mob.
The literal translation of Vaffanculo is “go screw yourself”.
The parolacce, or curse words, that Grillo uses are no different from what the average Italian would use while driving in traffic or while shopping at the supermarket.
“Better curses than hypocrisy,” some would say. It’s more important to speak the truth in whatever idiom than to worry about the appropriateness of it all.
Another funny character is Vittorio Sgarbi. An Italian art critic, art historian, politician, cultural commentator, and television personality.
He has been condemned several times for fraud and libel. Nevertheless, he’s always on TV insulting people with a variety of Italian curses.
10 Frequent curse words to survive in Italy
Andare a puttane
Many Italian swear words are related to sex.
Literally means “to go whoring”. It means that something goes bad or fails. It could be a project, a deal, or your life.
Here’s an example:
Va tutto male: famiglia, lavoro… la mia vita sta andando a puttane.
This is one of the most versatile bad words in Italian.
Culo means “ass, butt”. In the past, having a large waist meant that you were well nourished.
That was enough to be considered lucky. Now, it is just a sign of luck.
Martina ha vinto alla lotteria. Che culo!
Non capire un cazzo
Many Italian swear words are related to body parts.
Cazzo means “dick”. In negative sentences, it’s like “a f||k” or as in “I don’t give a f||k”.
It’s often used with the verbs capire, fare or avere (to understand, to do, to have).
Here’s a sentence:
Ma stai zitto! Non capisci un cazzo di politica.
Con le palle
Another Italian swear word related to body parts.
Palle or coglioni is the slang for testicles. Some “with balls” is brave and has a strong character.
Mi piacciono gli uomini con le palle: forti, decisi, coraggiosi.
Averne le palle piene
This is the same word as the previous sentence.
Having your balls “full” of something means that you’re fed up and can’t take it anymore. Amusingly enough, this expression is also used by women.
Sono stufo di questo lavoro. Ne ho le palle piene!
Stare sui coglioni
Yes, the same Italian curse word again! If someone or something stands on your testicles, you have a strong antipathy for it. This expression too can be used by women.
Abbiamo un capo antipatico che sta sui coglioni a tutti.
Girare i coglioni
Balls, again! When they’re turning, it means that you’re angry and nervous, in a bad mood.
Quando parla quel politico mi girano i coglioni.
Leccare il culo
This Italian swear word is relatively socially acceptable.
You lick someone’s ass if you praise them shamelessly hoping for personal profit, like a promotion from a boss, or good marks from a teacher.
Quello lecca il culo al professore per avere buoni voti.
Togliersi dai coglioni
I promise that this is the last of the Italian swear words with testicles. If someone or something is getting in your way, you want them to get away from your balls.
Indeed, I don’t want anything on my balls.
Se quella macchina si toglie dai coglioni parcheggiamo.
Some Italian swear words deal with bodily fluids.
Cagare means “to sh t”. If something makes you sh t, it sucks. Anything that sucks makes you sh t. It could be a room, a drawing, or a pair of shoes.
L’albergo era vecchio e sporco. Faceva proprio cagare!
What is the F word in Italian?
The F word in Italian is vaffanculo! (Go f*#^ yourself!)
This is probably the most famous, and most naughty, Italian swear word of all.
Its literal translation is very crude, and its implied meaning is “go f*#^ yourself” or “f*#^ off!”.
Italian swear words like this can’t be used lightly or shouted at someone without consequences.
Yes, that’s ‘F||k off’ or ‘f||k you’ in Italian.
It is a short form for “va’ a fare in culo“, which literally means “go to f||k in the a22” (intending “go get f||ked in the a22”).
Usually considered vulgar, but used often among (young) friends without offending intention. It can be shortened also as simply “fanculo“.
It includes the word culo (ass) that I explained above.
There’s even a song called vaffanculo. And its lyrics are quite profound, actually.
Angry Italian phrases
Here are some useful Italian phrases to use when you’re angry.
Strictly speaking, they’re not Italian curses.
However, these angry Italian phrases might well help you win an argument!
Non voglio parlare con te.
I don’t want to talk to you.
Are you kidding me?
Come ti pare.
Non sono affari tuoi.
It’s none of your business.
Cut it out.
Chi ti credi di essere?
Who do you think you are?
Non mi stai ascoltando.
You’re not listening to me.
Attento a come parli.
Watch your mouth.
Most of the words are not Italian swear words, but can sound aggressive depending on the context.
Free audio lesson to practice Italian swear words
Even if you understand these Italian curse words by reading, you need to speak to actually learn them.
What’s more, you need to speak with people to know how to use those swear words.
If you’re alone or don’t feel like insulting people randomly, this audio lesson is the closest possible to practice in real life.
Here’s a free preview of my special lesson about Italian curse words:
Here’s the sentence script:
If you like it, download the full lesson and start swearing in Italian today!
If you want more audio lessons for free, check out the preview of the first 10 lessons of “Ripeti con me!”
30 sentences with Italian curse words + audio
Are you tired of repeating boring textbook sentences?
Here’s a special lesson about Italian swear words!
- 30 sentences packed with expressions that the Italians really use
- Read by a native speaker with a natural accent
- With a booklet to look up the words you missed
- For intermediate level (B1)
Tip: to retain more vocabulary, take the lesson again after a night of sleep.
Once you see how well it works, move on to the full Italian audio course!
This package includes:
- 30 sentences
- 3 audio files for each lesson
- PDF booklet with the sentence script
- Instructions to use the course correctly
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