This post originally appeared on The Iceberg Project – check it out here!
Cursing in Italian can add an entirely different flavor to your Italian studies.
Plus, not all Italian swear words are like ours in English because they have many mild words and expressions that are used frequently, in everyday conversation.
Knowing these “parolacce” or “bad words”, even if you don’t use them, will allow you to better relate to those around you since you’re sure to come across them at least a few times when visiting Italy.
Below are 8 of the most common parolacce worth remembering.
1) Che palle! – What balls!
This is something that is said when something happens that you don’t like.
Even though the word balls are included, it isn’t a naughty thing to say, and can just mean “what the heck” or even “UGH!”
Ad esempio: You are wearing a leather coat that can’t get wet, and are stuck in a torrential down pour.
When you finally get where you’re going, you might say, “Che palle! I’ve ruined my coat!”
2) Cazzo! – F*#^!
While this is literally the slang word for a certain male anatomical part, cazzo is a more forceful swear word, that can range from the definition above, all the way to the “f” word in English.
You can add it to a sentence, “che cazzo è?” (what the f*#^ is this?) or just use it a la carte, “cazzo!”
This is definitely a bad, bad word, so use it sparingly!
3) Che cavolo! – What cabbage!
How hilarious is it that the mild form of “cazzo” is the word for cabbage?
I still giggle when someone says this, because the idea of saying, “what cabbage” just makes me laugh.
It means something along the lines of “what the hell” or “damn” and it is used very frequently.
It is mild enough that you can use it in many settings and it won’t likely seriously offend anyone.
4) Stronzo/a! (or my favorite stronzino/a) – A**hole!
This word is something that you call someone when they are being nasty.
To make it milder and more comedic, they sometimes add the “ino” ending, to be “a little asshole” – which really then becomes more like “jerk.”
Again this is a forceful word, so don’t use it unless the “stronzo” in question is out of earshot!
5) Accidenti! – Damn!
This is another G rated swear, and while it roughly translates to “damn”, it can also mean “that sucks” or “wow.”
If you’re telling someone, for example, that you haven’t slept in 3 days, because your neighbors cat is in heat and has taken to singing to potential lovers all night, your friend might say in reply, “accidenti!”, which would be kind of a combination of, “wow” and “that sucks.”
6) Leccaculo – Kiss ass
This swear is reserved for special people who suck up to bosses, co-workers or teachers, and I learned it from Italian school kids.
When one student in particular always knew the answer (right or wrong), the other kids would chortle “lecca, lecca” leaving off the “culo” part, but the meaning was implied.
It can range from a mild swear, to a full out insult depending on how and to who it is said.
7) Porca miseria! – Damnit!
Porca miseria, or pig poverty/misery, is a colorful way to say, “damn”.
It can be used to start a sentence, for example, when complaining about your experience at the Italian post office.
Ad esempio: “Porca miseria! I was at the post office for three hours today and missed an important meeting!”
8) Vaffanculo! – Go f*#^ yourself!
This is probably the most famous, and most naughty, Italian swear word of all.
It’s literal translation is very crude (I’ll let you figure it out), and it’s implied meaning is, “go f*#^ yourself” or “f*#^ off!”.
It is not to be used lightly or shouted at someone without consequence.
Fess up! What other Italian swear words have you heard or used?