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10 Incredibly Offensive Expressions From All Over The World

A. J. Simonson

Each language in the world contains its own beautiful expressions. Learning them may ingratiate you with the local population, enhance your appreciation for the language’s poetry, and even give you new cultured foreign additions to your everyday speech.

We’re not going to talk about any of that today. Instead, we’ll teach you how people around the world swear.

10Greek
Malakas

01
This phrase expresses contempt and disgust for a man’s stupid, dishonorable, or otherwise harmful behavior. It is often punctuated with the gesture of the moutza, an extension of the hand, palm out and fingers outstretched. This symbolizes spreading manure on the face of the malaka and seems to come from the ancient Greeks via the Byzantine Empire.

In its original meaning, a malaka meant someone spoiled and weak, used to easy life and scared of hard work or violence. It changed to mean a compulsive masturbator, and it ended up having a current meaning similar to the English terms “wanker” or “tosser.”

In the Philippines, it has a completely different meaning. Malaka was a great hero in Filipino mythology, so the word has come to designate a strong person in the vein of Paul Bunyan.

9Irish
Gobshite

02
This Hiberno-English (Irish) insult is a doozie. “Gob” means mouth, so a gobshite either eats feces (see comemierda, further down) or only speaks worthless crud. Either way, the person is an unbearable idiot whose behavior harms other people.

It is a typically Irish insult, since the Irish culture has traditionally prized the talent of oratory (the gift of the gab, or “blarney” from the Blarney Stone) and valued the trade of storyteller. The curse is moderately accepted on BBC Northern Irish radio, having acquired a milder character over time.

8 Icelandic
Afatottari

03
Picture that classic American insult which starts with “mother-” and ends in “-ucker.” Now picture what could be even more sacred to anyone than their mothers. What could be more offensive than stating you commit incest with your own mother? How about suggesting you have sex with your grandpa? That’s right—the Icelandic swear afatottari means “grandfather-sucker.”

Other offensive Icelandic terms include fraendseroir (“uncle-sucker”), rollurioari (sheep-diddler”), hringvoovi (“anal sphincter”), and the awesomely offensive mamma pin faeddi pig meo rassgatinu af pvi ao pikan a henni var upptekin (“your mother didn’t give birth to you; she defecated you because her vagina was busy“). A good variety of foul language comes as no surprise in the land where half-rotten shark reeking of ammonia is considered a good treat to offer to visitors.

7Italian
Non Me Ne Frega Un Cazzo

04
This ultimate expression of indifference translates as “I don’t care a penis.” It is best reserved for those occasions when you are under pressure and some cornuto (literally “cuckold” but effectively a gobshite) is talking cazzate (“nonsense,” derived from cazzo).

The phrase has spawned a whole philosophy of life. Il menefreghismo is a cool carelessness that has been the signature of players from Dean Martin to Silvio Berlusconi.

6Arabic
Kuss Ummak

05
Paradoxically enough (or not), the more patriarchal a society is, the more offensive it is to say anything bad about mothers. This Egyptian Arabic expression means “your mother’s vagina,” and uttering it is as offensive as it gets.

Curiously enough, mentioning shoes in a rude manner or comparing someone to a shoe is a close second in offensiveness, which is why throwing your dirty shoes at someone is such an insult. In some places, even sitting with your feet pointing at someone is considered a mark of disrespect. Due to the dusty environment of most Arab lands, shoes are almost guaranteed to be dirty. Combine this with Islam’s heavy emphasis on purity and cleanliness, and shoes and feet gain special symbolism.

5Chinese
Wang Ba Dan

06
The ancient Chinese attributes of subtlety and harshness give rise to this disparaging term, which roughly means “turtle’s egg.” Why, you might ask, should anyone find that insulting? Turtle eggs hatch when the father is away, so being called one implies you don’t know your father—you’re a bastard. Chinese female turtles also have a certain reputation for promiscuity.

Other Chinese disparaging terms have to do with formal education—or, more specifically, the lack of it. China has a long-running tradition of state-run exams that grant access to higher education. Being unable to pass one obliterates any authority you could have, so being called “uneducated” or “peasant” is much more offensive than in the West.

4Spanish
Me Cago En La Leche Que Mamaste

07
It’s bad when someone insults your mother. But the nastiness goes full throttle when things go to maternal milk mixed with feces.

This Spanish curse means literally: “I defecate in the milk you suckled.” It was thought that the milk you suckled defined your character. Having a sour character is still called tener mala leche (“having bad milk“) and something awesome is la leche. Some speculate that this expression references semen, making it even fouler and tinged with homophobia.

Spanish profanity also has a knack for the liturgical (more on that later) and on the scatological. Low-quality items are disparagingly called nordos (“turds”). The insult comemierda (“turd gobbler”) gained special prominence through a famous prank call to Fidel Castro.

3German
Du Kannst Diesen Scheiszdreck Hinter Den Ohren Schmieren

08

This German equivalent to non me ne frega un cazzo recently gained prominence through the Brazil World Cup. Striker Thomas Muller replied with this Bavarian expression when asked about not having earned the Golden Boot (a trophy for the tournament’s top scorer). It literally means “You can smear that crap behind your ears.”

The Golden Boot winner was Colombian, and so was the reporter. So with this phrase, Muller expressed his indifference toward her country’s worthless trophy, since he had already won the Big One—the World Cup.

2French
Sacre Quebecois

09
This phrase literally means “Quebec Sacred,” but it really means just the opposite. It represents the collection of swear words used in the Quebec French dialect. It is not quite a dialect made of swear words but is still a very colorful collection of obscenities, mixing insults, blasphemy, and plain old taboo concepts. It uses liturgical terms such as calice (“chalice”) and tabarnac (“tabernacle”) because people curse what represses them. In traditionally Catholic Quebec, that repression came from the Church hierarchy.

You can similarly find the use of the sacred for the profane among other Catholic peoples, such as the Spanish, who curse the hostia (the Sacred Host) as much as the Quebecers curse their hostie. After all, what’s the point of cursing something you don’t believe in? You need to believe there is some truth in religion for a curse to be truly transgressive.

1Russian
Mat

10
Would you like to talk in a dialect made up entirely by offensive words? Russia has one, and it shares its name with the item English speakers put at the front door, perhaps because, like our doormats, it picks up all the filth.

Common Russian is quite expressive, but it tends to avoid certain offensive terms best reserved for mat. No school teaches it, and no mention of many mat words can be found in most Russian dictionaries, but it’s the common way of speaking among blue-collar workers in their jobs.

According to one anecdote, a manager was so appalled with subordinates’ profanity that he banned speaking mat altogether. Next month’s output dropped by half—the workers didn’t know the names of the tools and procedures without referring to them as “the f—kingamajig” or “f—king the s—t out of that c—t.”

Mat has been used by people as cultivated as Pushkin, Lermontov, and Tolstoy, and Solzhenitsyn in the 20th century did much to publicize it. Criminals, meanwhile, use an altogether different variety of language, a thieves’ cant called fenya.