A Guide to Understanding German Insults

swear jar

While bad words are used commonly in conversation among native German speakers, you probably won’t find them in a vocabulary lesson in your textbook or online course. Despite sounding quite harsh and intimidating, German swears are easy to remember once you learn their literal translations and even more fun to say. So if you’re ready to take a break from all of that responsible learning and have some fun, take a look at these popular expletives and insults. Studying German insults won’t even feel like studying – we promise!

NOTE: Although in some German-speaking areas curses are commonly used in front of children or older family members, the vulgarity level listed here is representative of conversation between adults in informal situations. Be careful using these around children, co-workers, or elders!

*WARNING: As you may imagine, some German curse words and their translations are very vulgar. Our aim is to provide factually correct information about the usage of German insults as a naturalistic human behavior to aid German learners in understanding authentic German, which in some cases may be graphic or offensive in their reference to religion, sexuality, or violence.*

Single-Word Swears

You may recognize some of these swears due to their English counterparts; in many cases the literal translation is the same as in English.

GermanEnglish equivalentLiteral meaningVulgarity level
Scheiße (scheisse)sh*texcrementmild/medium
Arschlocha*shole medium
Fotzecnt/motherfcker high
verdammtgodd*mmit mild
Fickerf*cker high
Blödsinnbullsh*t medium
Deppidiot/moron mild


One of the most common bad words in German, scheiße, has several creative constructions that mirror the English use of “sh*t.”

Oh Scheiße! Oh sh*t!

Scheiße bauen F*ck up (make a mistake)

Scheiße erzählen Talk sh*t

Scheiße sein Be sh*tty

Stück Scheiße Piece of sh*t

wie Scheiße behandeln Treat like sh*t

ohne Scheiß I am not kidding you / No sh*t?

Das ist mir scheißegal! I don’t give a shit!

Verdammter Scheiß! Bloody hell!

Scheißdreck f_cking sh_t / godd_mmit / motherf_cker

Multi-Word Magic: Full Phrases

Many of these insults are not for the feeble-hearted, but your German pals may let you get away with them if you say them jokingly after you’ve drunk ein paar Biere.

GermanEnglish equivalentLiteral meaningVulgarity level
Fick dichf*ck you high
Fick dich ins Kniego f*ck yourself high
Ich würde mich lieber ins Knie fickenI’d rather go f*ck myselfI’d rather go f*ck my kneeshigh
Du blöde Kuhyou stupid cow medium
Du Weicheiyou sissy/wimp mild
Leck mich (am Arsch)kiss my a*slick me (on the butt)medium
Küss meinen Arschkiss my a*skiss my buttmedium
Du kannst mich malbite me / go f*ck yourselfyou can ___ me!medium
(Du) Hurensohnson of a btch / bstard high
Verpiss dichp*ss off medium
Halt maul / die + Fresse / Schnauze / Klappeshut the f*ck upshut yours / shut your + face / mouthmedium
Fahr zur Höllego f*ck yourselfdrive to hellmedium

The Universal Language of “Yo Mama” Insults

We won’t spend any time on why these insults are so popular cross-culturally, but suffice it to say that young German speakers have recently begun to appreciate especially inventive descriptions of how someone’s mother is less than perfect.

Deine Mutter schuldet dir noch zehn Euro. Your mother owes you ten euros.

Deine Mutter ist so fett sie legte sich an den Strand und Greenpeace schmiss sie ins Meer! Your mother is so fat that when she was lying on a beach Greenpeace threw her into the water.

Deine Mudda ist so dick, dass wenn sie sich wiegt, auf der Waage ihre Handynummer steht. You mother is so fat that when she stands on the scales it shows her cellular phone number.

Deine Mutter schwitzt beim Kacken. Your mother sweats when she sh*ts.

Deine Mutter geht in der Stadt huren. Your mother goes to town (i.e., a prostitute in the city).

Similar to the English “yo mama,” an all-purpose response meaning something like “p*ss off” is the purposefully misspelled (to sound like a low-class accent) Deine Mudda!

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A Word of Caution

When first starting out with a language, second-language speakers can sometimes overuse or use stronger curse words too flippantly. Some researchers think that this may be tied to the fact that as children non-native speakers never experienced that strong emotional taboo reaction from adults around curse words, and therefore do not feel the curse words as strongly as native speakers do.

For this reason, it’s important to listen carefully to native speakers’ usage before trying these words out for yourself. German TV usually doesn’t censor bad words, but in some areas (especially the Bavarian Catholic areas) curse words can still be inappropriate in mixed company. Always follow native speakers’ cues, keep in mind the hierarchy of “badness,” and realize that some words are only appropriate with good friends, far away from children (and most elders).

Himmiherrgotzaggramentzefixallelujamil- extamarschscheissglumpfaregtz!!!

While you may not be ready for this monster conglomerate of curses (which translates to something like “heaven Christ crucifix Halleluja me lick at the a_s sh_t rubbish crock”), start to pay attention to how native speakers use the words above and feel out which ones can be combined and how.

Where can you see these colorful words in use? One great way to learn curse words is by watching movies in German (Many people claim that the film Das Boot is where they learned their repertoire of German insults). You can also watch English movies with German subtitles to see the corresponding curses. Another way to see curse words in action is to follow German speakers on social media. Don’t forget to sign up for Lingvist’s German course to make sure you understand the rest of the words surrounding the bad ones!

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