The Weirdest & Funniest Insults from Western Europe
As the bard once said, everybody knows the first words you will learn in a foreign language are the bad ones. No, not ‘hello’, nor ‘goodbye’, nor ‘red’, nor ‘where is the bathroom?’. You are going to learn cuss words and colloquialisms for pee, poop, vagina, penis, prostitute, anus, and female dog.
[…why so many people dislike girl doggies is beyond me. They don’t hump your leg (as much) and they don’t make awkward eye contact with you when getting a doggie boner].
ANYWAYS, due to this definitely proven fact about learning swear words first when you learn other languages, I’ve picked up a couple fun ones in Europe. Not only this, but as I learned more languages, I started to notice the truly, uniquely weird insults that were particular to each language. Some, when translated into English, make no sense at all, while others deserve a place in our language right now.
Remember, we have these in English, as well. For example, imagine trying to translate ‘crotch-hobbit’ to someone. Some of my other personal favorites are: dickhole (simple yet unexpected), your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries (an undying classic), google employee (you know, maybe this all stems from a deep-seated jealousy that makes us all want to be google employees…), ugly stinky llamaface (because I am an adult and I am in FULL right to watch The Emperor’s New Groove as often as I want), the Wells Fargo of people (I came up with that one, maybe it’ll catch on), and I bite my thumb at thee (if you want to be tragic and theatrical af).
While researching this list, I learned a surprising amount about Europe and its countries, specifically of the South and the West. I noticed how in Italian, you can scream out what sounds like one long syllable of blasphemy, animals, professions, crimes and animal parts and it totally counts as a slight. I learned that the Spanish really love using scatology as a threat for an insult, and have a weird thing about milk. I found out that (perhaps unsurprisingly), German insults are long and not really that translatable. But I might as well try!
To share my bounty of cultural, high-brow knowledge with you, here is a list of weird insults I compiled with several countries in the general area of Southern and Western Europe.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is by no means a complete list. Had I had infinite time to go travel Europe and insult everyone ever, I would, but sadly, I don’t. A couple countries are missing, and this is not because I don’t like them, because I do, but rather because anyone can tell you how to call someone a penis in another language, but it takes a special kind of someone to tell you that you are a giant horse penis (stay tuned for Northern, Central, and Eastern European Insults).
EDITOR’S NOTE PART DEUX: Of course, like any language ever, there were some pretty racist, homophobic, and misogynist, and generally really gross insults, too. This is the vaguely less insulting version, but if I do include something that you feel shouldn’t be on here, let me know!
And if you get offended because of something I may write that isn’t racist, homophobic, queerphobic, derogatory towards mental illness, misoginist, sexist, fat-shaming or slut-shaming…well, then I have done my job. Consider yourself insulted!
Literal translation: none.
Means: (Roughly) a stupid, handsome guy.
While I will try to analyze as best I can the reason for the unique insults I will throw at your face in this piece, I actually have no earthly idea why the Spaniards talk about poop as much as they do. Anyways, it brings me endless joy to give you a list of all the things that angry Spaniards wish they could shit in and/or on:
Your mom, your mother who is a sex worker, the milk, god, the number ten (which sounds very similar to the word god in Spanish), the sea, the salty sea, you, your dead ancestors, on the host (the Christian cookie thing), everything that moves, and everything on which one can shit (yes, a real expression).
“Me cago en la leche que mamaste!”
Literally: I shit in the milk that you suckled!
Means: Well…pretty obvious. To be noted that this is pretty tame, now, and is generally used as an exclamation like “fuck!” or “damnit!” rather than to actually insult someone.
German insults were some of the most colorful that I came across, also due to the German language’s delightful attribute of allowing you to smoosh words together into one big word with a totally unique meaning. The German insults that were suggested to me were all generally funny, although some I did not understand as being offensive at all (calling someone a Steckdosenbefruchter, i.e. a “wall socket fertilizer” would be an example of that) and some were a bit unclear in their accusations (is Turnbeutelvergesser, literally “gym-bag-forgetter” aimed at people who can’t even handle remembering their P.E. or who try to get out of P.E. by forgetting it at home?).
Literal translation: A Sunday driver.
Means: A terrible, slow driver
Note: This, in fact, does exist in English, and in French, Spanish, Danish and Polish. However, I can’t imagine calling someone a ‘Sunday driver’ in a fit of road rage (I ride a bike, and without my dear San Francisco wiggle things can get angry), but it seems to be pretty common in Germany, leading me to think of the German love of rules and of their famed Autobahn.
I’m closest to the French culture more than any others, so I’ve heard their insults so often (yes, people hate me) that it’s a bit harder for me to notice ones that are are absurd. For me to take note, it has to be brilliantly weird, and the French have their share of them. One that you will hear all the time is “Ta Gueule!” literally meaning “Your Maw” (a maw is the jaw and throat of an animal as opposed to a human). This is short for “Ferme ta gueule” (“Shut your maw”), meaning “Shut up.” Another, more heartless and MUCH less heard one would be “Ta mère aurait du avaler” (=”your mother should have swallowed”).
“T’as été bercé trop prêt du mur!”
Literal meaning: You were rocked too close to the wall.
Means: You’re dumb.
To me, Italy is the Mecca of swearing, ironically, precisely for its gleeful defamation of all that is religious. Italian insults and swear words, similarly to German ones, in a way, rely heavily on making up the weirdest, most absurd string of exclamations and adjectives you possibly can while being hurtful, shockingly blasphemous (but not too much), and unique. Really, swearing in Italy is a mental pissing contest. Since we already yell at each other all the time, there, we have to figure out another way to convey anger, and in the home of the Vatican city, this is it. There are so many that it’s hard to choose, but some of the better ones are: “Cagati in mano e prenditi a schiaffi”, an invitation to shit in your hand and slap yourself repeatedly, or:
“Budello di tu ma’ cane ladra rincorsa dai fascisti!”
Literal translation: Your thieving dog mother’s guts, ran after by fascists.
Means: …your mom???
Back on familiar territory! Orrrr maybe not. While it’s the same language, there are some key differences. One is that you can’t really insult someone using a British English word with an American accent (you’ll get laughed at, I tried), and plus, you don’t really know what the word actually means half the time. It took me until this article to realize that “bellend” literally means “tip of the penis”. ANYWAYS, one of the joys of English is that you also get to be creative and just invent the insult of your dreams, so I found a bunch of good ones on this Buzzfeed page dedicated to English people insulting Donald Trump, of which I really like : witless cocksplat, bloviating fleshbag, and spoon (yeah I don’t know).Otherwise, there’s:
Literal meaning: none.
Means: Someone who is incredibly not intelligent, clueless, think someone standing by with their mouth hanging open. At least, that’s what I do.
Scottish insults (and speech, if I’m correct) are and is peppered with Scotticisms, essentially remnants of Scottish Gaelic that made its way into the English that they speak (Wikipedia told me so). The English spoken up North is also different, and anyone who has watched Trainspotting will know this. I have deep roots in Scotland and I love the place but even I sometimes have a difficult time understanding the cuss words…or, well, the words. Of individual words, my favorite is “bawbag” or ballsack (leading to “your mawz bawz,” i.e. “your mother’s balls,” which sounds like it should be uttered by a pissed of Barbara Walters).
“Awa’ an’ bile yer heid!”
Literal Meaning: Go away and boil your head.
Means: You don’t know what you’re saying / leave me alone.
Ireland, differently than Scotland, had a combination of either regional English insults or pure Irish ones. Of the Irish Gaelic insults, you may hear amadán (pronounced om-ah-dawn, meaning an idiot, a fool), you could tell someone to “pog mo thoin” (kiss your ass), or you could go full ancient Irish curse on them and say something like “Go mbeadh cosa gloine fút agus go mbrise an ghloine”, or “May you have glass legs and may the glass break.” In English, you could descibre someone as having a:
“Head like a burst trout/grin like a dead hare!”
Means: They’re ugly, they have an angry head, face or teeth.
Moving further north to a country that is exactly the same as Ireland except for one letter, a whole bunch of ponies, and a crazy talented (but also mainly crazy) singer (as well as countless other reasons): Iceland. In a very vague, “you’re just simply terrible” type way, they call people a:
Literal Meaning: Toilet plunger.
Denmark, the land of forward thinking, lots of bikes, and Scooby Doo dogs (I think). Apart from my gross generalizations, some of my closest friends are Danish, and apparently, they have some bizarrely cute insults. For example, to say “dickhead” you might call someone a “pikansjos” (which means, literally, “penis anchovies”, implying that you have a member the size and efficacity of a dessicated, tiny, smelly fish. Not bad). As an exclamation, you might say, instead of “fuck!”, the ever creative “fucking pis lort”, translated as – and I have no idea why this makes me laugh so much – “fucking pee shit”. As far as an anthropologically interesting insult you could also call someone a:
Literal Meaning: One of the proletariat.
Means: Someone who is poor and classless. While almost all languages have a unique word to insult someone with less money and education than you, it’s almost always fairly recent and particular to that country (think ‘redneck’ in the US, ‘chav’ in England, and ‘schemie’ in Scotland). But…proletariat? Translated into English, it would feel, I think, like calling someone a “plebe”.
From speaking to my Swedish friends, it looks like the majority of uniquely Swedish insults have to do with someone’s efficiency. I didn’t know this about Sweden, but apparently, you better be doing something useful, or you will be insulted – you will be insulted so hard. And while I think Sweden is one of the most beautiful and fascinating countries in Europe and everyone I know from there is great, the Swedish language doesn’t necessarily inspire fear in my heart, but rather, it makes me think of the Muppets. So if anyone wants to annoy the residents of Uppsala by not doing enough and being annoying, please do, and enjoy the onslaught of angry Swedish words coming your way. You may be told, for example, “Ditt lilla mähä,” which roughly translates to “you little waste of space” (cute, no?). Otherwise, you could use one of two variations… One is “Du är en nagel i mitt öga,” literally “You are a fingernail in my eye,” meaning to be extremely annoying, OR:
“Du är en bajskorv man inte kan spola ner!”
Literal meaning: You are a turd (that is) impossible to flush.
Means: You are extremely annoying.
Norway confuses me with its insults. Possibly because I don’t know enough Norwegians to confirm or deny their Scandinavia fame for cursing and insulting people, but from what I can tell, I’ve seen that they at least use a lot of animal profanity. For example, you could say “Forbanna hestkuk,” which means “fucking horse dick.” Otherwise, one of the ‘tamer’ insults and swear words is, apparently:
“Pikkantilope og firkant raev!”
Literal Meaning: Dick-antelope and square-ass
Means: I honestly haven’t the faintest. Please help.
Of all these countries, I know the least of Austria and Belgium, but I have found some unique insults to the regions, which are starting to get uncomfortably Northern and Eastern for this article. Also, remember rthat in Austria they also speak German, but an insult particular to the region is to call someone nasty, you can call a man an “Ungustl” (no literal translation), a woman a “Gurkn” (short for Gurke, a cucumber), or you could call someone a:
Literal Meaning: Full suitcase.
Belgium, a land split between French and Flemish, which is essentially a dialect of Dutch. The Belgians are world-renowned for their beer, their fries, their waffles, and (at least in France), they are the neighboring blondes. For being known as none-too bright, though, they have some pretty stellar insults, for example “gie soepkieken(ghent)” (meaning you chicken soup, or you idiot) and:
Literal Meaning: an ant fucker.
Means: Someone who is annoyingly obsessed with details.
I have it on linguistic authority that many Dutch insults have to do with calling someone disease-ridden. I hesitate to write some of them, as they involve not only slut-shaming but also insinuating that said sexually liberated individual also has the big C word disease, but one that is slightly more interesting is:
Literal Meaning: Typhoidal sexually liberated woman.
Means: Hopefully we will soon inhabit a world where the regularity that someone sleeps with someone will no longer be part of an insult, but still a place where calling someone “typhoidal” will still sound as delightfully antiquated as it does now.
The most Greek insult that was passed on to me is actually not always used as an insult. You can call someone a
Literal meaning: pronounced “malakas,” it means a “masturbator”.
Means: an idiot, but it can ALSO mean “buddy,” in the same way that “shit for brains” can be a pet name for your friends.