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Italian Swear Words (for Polite Society)

Updated on September 5, 2014

The most useful euphemisms for Italian curse words

"You didn't really say that, did you?!"Okay, so perhaps I am a prude, but swearing truly bothers me, in any language. Whereas others might assail one another with flying f-words and references to bodily excrements, I am more partial to genteelisms. And let's be honest - euphemisms are often far more entertaining and effective than swear words themselves!It is on this note that I welcome you to Italian Swear Words for Polite Society, the one page where you will find every imaginable politically-correct swear word in the language of love. If you are looking for hard core curse words in Italian, I suggest you to look here and here. Visit at your own risk.

Photo courtesy of Alex Schweigert on Flickr

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Moments of Surprise and Shock

In Italian, you are spoilt for choice in ways to express your surprise. Conveniently, these words can be used for both negative surprises (discovering that your friend is in hospital) or positive surprises (receiving a lovely gift or marriage proposal). Simply pick a handful of favourites and use them until your heart's content! **Keep in mind that these expressions are pretty much interchangeable just like their equivalents in English.

Caspita! Gosh! Example: Caspita, che bel regalo! (Gosh, what a nice gift!)

Madonna mia! Oh my Lord! (literally: Oh my Madonna) Example: Madonna mia, che spavento! (Oh my Lord, what a shock!)

Cavolo! Gosh! (literally: cabbage) Example: Cavolo! Non sapevo che ci fossi tu. (Gosh, I didn't know you were here!)

Mamma mia! Oh my! Example: Mamma mia, quanto sei cresciuto! (My, how you've grown!)

Oh mio Dio! Oh my God! Example: Oh mio Dio! Si e' rotto un braccio! (Oh my God. He broke his arm!)

Madonna Santa! Holy cow! (literally: Saint Mary!) Example: Madonna Santa, pesa un kilo! (Holy cow, it weights a ton!)

Accipicchia! My goodness! (literally: Hit it!) Example: Accipicchia! Che paesaggio fantastico! (My goodness. What a fantastic view!)

Accidenti! Wow! Example: Accidenti, che partita! (Wow, what a game!)

Per Bacco! My word! Example: Per Bacco, che festa! (My word, what a party!)

Mizzica! Holy cow! Example: Mizzica, che bella ricetta! (Holy cow, what a great recipe!)

Photo credit: pepemczolz on Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Consumerist
The Consumerist

Moments of Anger and Annoyance

You're walking down the street when your faithful canine companion decides to take a quick bath in a conveniently placed mud puddle. You walk into your bedroom to find that the same dog has ripped your new curtains to shreds. And your dish of homemade spaghetti? Well, you might as well just order a pizza at this point. Now, as an upstanding member of polite Italian society, you know that swear words simply aren't the way to express your anger and annoyance. Enter these great Italian euphemisms for swear words! With these expressions, you will soon be able to express your anger and annoyance without the risk of fare una brutta figura(making a bad impression).

Cavolo! Darn! Example: Oh cavolo, ho rovinato il mio vestito. (Darn, I ruined my dress.)

Mannaggia! Darn it! Example: Mannaggia, non riesco a smettere di fumare. (Darn it, I can't stop smoking.)

Accidenti. Crud. Example: Accidenti, ho perso il treno. (Crud, I missed the train.)

Che barba. What a drag. (literally: What a beard.) Example: Che barba, non ho piu' soldi. (What a drag, I don't have any money.)

Che pizza. Oh man. (literally: What a pizza.) Example: Che pizza, dobbiamo aspettare due ore. (Oh man, we have to wait two hours.)

Che palle! What a pain! (literally: What balls!) Example: Che palle. Non trovo il mio portafoglio. (What a pain. I can't find my wallet.)

Che rottura di scatole/palle. What a pain. (literally: What a breakage of boxes/balls.) Example: Che rottura di scatole. E' cominciato a piovere. (What a pain. It's starting to rain.)

Cazzarola! Darn! (literally: casserole) Example: Cazzarola, sono in ritardo. (Darn, I'm late.)

Cacchio! Darn! (literally: poo) Example: Cacchio, non ho finito i compiti. (Darn, I didn't finish my homework!)

Photo credit: The Comsumerist on Flickr (Creative Commons)

How to tell someone to "get lost" in Italian

Keep the pests away with these great euphemisms

As there are harsher ways of saying "get lost" in English, likewise there are extremely nasty ways of saying the same in Italian. If you prefer avoiding swear words as I do, you will probably be in need of some useful swear word substitutes! Here is a list which will surely tickle your fancy.

Vai a fare un bagno!(literally: Go take a bath!)

Vai a quel paese!(literally: Go to that country!)

Vai a cantare in un altro cortile!(literally: Go and sing in another courtyard!)

Vai dove devi andare!(literally: Go where you have to go!)

Levati dai piedi/scatole!(literally: Get off my feet/boxes!)

Joey swears at Chandler on Friends - The nicest way tell your friend to "get lost"!

In this episode, Joey tells his best friend Chandler to vaffanapoli, a hilarious euphemism for a much stronger expression in Italian which you would only use if you were truly irked at someone. Vaffanapoli doesn't actually exist in real life, but it is a good example of how Italians creatively corrupt their swear words to create genteelisms.

The Language of Pork and Pigs - The use of the word "Porca" to express anger and upset

Aleksander Dragnes
Aleksander Dragnes

For some unknown reason, Italians love to use the word "porco/porca" to express their annoyance, which literally means "pork" or "swine." In fact, they will add just about any word onto the end of "porco/a" to turn it into a swear word. Of course, among the immense selection, there are nasty expressions and nice expressions. As you might have guessed, on this page, we are dealing solely with the nice!The meaning of "porco/a + random word" sits along the lines of the English dash it, darn it, and oh bother.

Porca miseria! Literally: Pork misery!

Porca vacca! Literally: Pork cow!

Porco mondo! Literally: Pork world!

Porca Martina! Literally: Pork Martina!

Porco Giuda! Literally: Pork Jude!

Zio porco! Literally: Uncle pork!

Porco cane! Literally: Pork dog!

Porca puzzola! Literally: Pork skunk!

Photo credit: Aleksander Dragnes on Flickr (Creative Commons)

Gastronomy as a replacement for cursing - The Italian love for food extends beyond the stomach

Courtesy of Emanuele Longo on Flickr
Courtesy of Emanuele Longo on Flickr

While English people refer to bodily excrements and places of eternal damnation to curse and insult others, the Italians, not so surprisingly, often turn to food for inspiration. When you're bored, you might say you're having a pizza of a time, whereas the person who just got you in a fender bender probably probably has a head made of rapa or pumpkin. To see a full list of fun and family-friendly Italian swear words and insults using food, just look below!

*Pizza* = Pizza

Che pizza! = What a bore!/Oh man...

*Cavolo* = Cabbage

Mah, che cavolo vuoi? (What on earth do you want?)

Col cavolo ci vado! (I'll go over my dead body!)

Non me ne frega un cavolo! (I don't care one bit!)

Fatti i cavoli tuoi! (Mind your own beeswax!)

Hai una testa di cavolo! (You are a knucklehead!)

*Zucca* = Pumpkin

Hai la zucca vuota! (You're a blockhead!)

*Rapa* = Turnip

Hai proprio una testa di rapa! (You're a real pinhead!)

*Capperi* = Capers"Ah capperi, non lo sapevo! (Gosh, I didn't know!)

Photo credit: Emanuele Longo on Flickr (Creative Commons)

Ti e' piaciuto questo articolo? - Did you enjoy this article?

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    • profile image

      AngryBaker 5 years ago

      very much... made a few notes... will try my new words out soon

    • Holly22 profile image

      Christine and Peter Broster 5 years ago from Tywyn Wales UK

      Just let someone step on my toe when I am in Turin - I am now thoroughly prepared!

    • nyclittleitaly profile image

      nyclittleitaly 5 years ago

      Nice lens.

    • buttonhead lm profile image

      buttonhead lm 5 years ago

      Yay! This is awesome. Thanks for the ideas! Mizzica is my favorite. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice language idea lens.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      haha Now you need to teach us how to swear with the Italian accent too. :)

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Fantastic! I love it - I always love finding new euphemisms for swear words. :) Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • profile image

      AnnieMoril 5 years ago

      Si. molto. Grazie.

    • profile image

      donmanual 4 years ago

      Wow! These phrases are extremely useful! I've just started to learn Italian. :)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 4 years ago

      Most enlightening and enjoyable!

    • profile image

      LadyDuck 4 years ago

      Mizzica is Sicilian, OK is very common but other bad words are very common in Italy... better not to use!

    • DeniseandViolet profile image

      DeniseandViolet 3 years ago

      Cute article! I use a few of these expressions on a regular basis, lol. We live in Milan, Italy and hear a lot of these around town.

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