Do you know French swear words? When we learn a language, we are never taught those vulgar or bad words that belong to colloquial language. However, they are very (very) much used by French people in everyday life!

Today, I’m going to explain to you the 5 most common French cuss words as well as their derivatives. Happy learning!

Top 5 French Curse Words

1. Putain

“Putain” is certainly the richest and most used French swear word! It is used to express different emotions such as dissatisfaction, surprise or even anger. As such, it is very much like fuck in English, and this bad French word is often used to exaggerate one’s astonishment.

Putain is probably the most popular French swear word

French word used to express anger, fear, envy, joy, happiness, sadness, jealousy, hunger, thirst or the loss of a TV remote.

Examples of good use:

French: Oh putain, mais c’est pas croyable !
English: Fuck me, that’s unbelievable!

(We often find the interjection “oh” before “putain”, but not always). It is also often used to express something unpleasant. For example:

French: Oh putain ! J’ai oublié mes clés dans la maison !
English: I forgot my fucking keys inside the fucking house!

The meaning also depends on how you pronounce the word. For example, you can say it very slowly to make it more emphatic.

French: Oh pu…tain ! Tu te fous de ma gueule !
English: Oh my…fuck! Are you fucking kidding me ?!

But be careful! It doesn’t always have a negative meaning! It also serves to reinforce a positive feeling. For example:

French: On s’est fait un putain de repas avec ma femme hier, c’était excellent !
English: We had a great fucking meal yesterday with the wife, it was awesome!

On the other hand, it can also be used as an insult to a person, such as:

French: J’en ai jusque-là, mes putains de voisins écoutent de la musique toute la journée !
English: I’ve had it up to here! My fucking neighbors are listening to music all the fucking day!

And to avoid being vulgar, because that’s of utmost importance when you use French swear words, you can replace the word “putain” by “punaise” (“bug”), or “purée” (“mashed potato”)! Just like one could use frickin’ in English.

French: Oh punaise, je suis crevé d’avoir marché toute la journée !
English: I’m exhausted after this frickin’ long day of walking!

It can also be used to express why each new month makes you sicker than the last:

Examples of uses of the French curse word putain

January: fuckin’ galette des rois, February: fuckin’ cold, March: fuckin’ flu, April: fuckin’ fish, May: fuckin’ taxes, June: fuckin’ exams, July: fuckin’ parade, August: fuckin’ tourists

2. Merde

The first meaning of this bad word in French can be used to express surprise or irritation.

Examples of good use:

French: Oh merde, j’ai laissé mes clés dans la maison !
English: Oh shit! I left my keys in the house! (It replaces “putain” in this sentence as an exclamation).

The second meaning is used to say that something sucks. For example:

French: Quelle merde ce boulot !
English: That’s some shitty work!

It can also be used to describe an unpleasant situation, such as:

French: Quelle merde !
English: What a piece of crap! (That would have the meaning of “what a mess!”, “what an unpleasant situation!”).

3. Chier

We now move on to the very popular verb “chier”, which is basilly the French equivalent “to shit”, and is also widely used and has multiple derivatives.

The sentence “Ça fait chier” is used to express discontentment. Very often we don’t say the “ça” (“it”) and just say “fait chier !”.

Examples of good use:

French: Fait chier ! Demain c’est dimanche et je dois bosser.
English: Damn it! Tomorrow is Sunday but I still have to work!

French: Ça fait chier, j’ai oublié mon ordinateur chez moi !
English: Damn it! I forgot my computer at home!

“Faire chier” can also be used to say that someone or something is bothering you. For example:

French: Oh mon dieu, ce mec commence sévèrement à me faire chier !
English: Oh my God, this guy is really starting to piss me off!

Please also note that from the verb “chier”, we can form the adjective “chiant” (“boring” — not to be confused with “chien” (“dog”)).

This adjective is used to describe something or someone unpleasant, disturbing. A couple of examples:

French: C’est pas possible comme ce gars-là est chiant ! Il parle tout le temps !
English: It’s unreal how boring that guy is! He never stops talking!

French: C’est chiant, je dois bosser demain.
English: I have to work tomorrow, that’s annoying.

4. Con, conne

The first use of this very common word is an insult. It is used to say that someone is a fool, or that they are stupid or mean.

The French bad word "con" is also very popular in France

Idiots dare to do anything, that’s even how we recognize them!

Examples of good use:

French: Non, mais quel con !
English: What a jerk!

French: Cette fille est tellement conne. (“Conne” is the feminine of “con”.)
English: That girl is so fucking stupid!

French: Pauvre con !
English: Poor schmuck!

It’s also used to say “too bad” or “what a shame!”. Examples:

French: C’est con, j’ai oublié mon appareil photo et je peux pas photographier nos vacances.
English: I stupidly forgot my camera at home and I cannot shoot our vacation.

Finally, we use it very often to say “what an idiot!”:

French: Quel con, j’ai oublié mes clés !
English: What an idiot, I forgot my keys!

But to avoid being vulgar, we can replace this word by “bête” (“silly”):

French: Ah, c’est bête ! (C’est bête = c’est dommage, c’est stupide…)
English: Oh, that’s silly! (It’s silly = it’s too bad, it’s stupid…)

Please note that the word “connard” (“asshole”) often replaces “con” and is also very vulgar.

5. Salaud, salope

Salope is basically the French translation of the English word cunt. Salaud is the male version of that word, which doesn’t really exist in English… interesting.

Then again, cunt can be said to males too. It can also be used as “bitch” or “whore”. Now to the examples!

Examples of good use:

French: T’es une brave salope !
English: You’re one devious cunt!

French: Quel salaud ce type, il a tenté de m’arnaquer !
English: This guy, what a cunt, he tried to bamboozle me!

Bonus: Two, not-so-vulgar French cuss words


This insult is used to designate a swindler or thief. The term comes from the Dutch word vrïjbuiter and originally characterized “an adventurous pirate who loots freely”. We find the word in Voltaire’s works: “The first kings of Rome were captains of freebooters”. However, a “funny freebooter” (“drôle de flibustier”) is an expression used by grandparents to designate their grandson who has just made a mistake.


The word comes from “freluque”, a 17th century French term which designated a lock of hair. It later became an insult that suggests that a person is stingy and frivolous. Can be translated as rascal.


I hope you enjoyed to learn these French curse words, and are looking forward to use them in your day-to-day! Or, that they will at least allow you to better understand French movies on Netflix. 🙂

Do let me know in the comments if there are other sophisticated French insults or bad words that you know.

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