German Curse Words

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 curse words won’t even feel like studying – we promise!

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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 curse words 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.

German English equivalent Literal meaning Vulgarity level
Scheiße (scheisse) sh*t excrement mild/medium
Mist crap/dang manure mild
Arschloch a*shole   medium
Schlampe b*tch wh*re high
Fotze cnt/motherfcker   high
Miststück btch/bstard rascal medium
verdammt godd*mmit   mild
Spasti dumba*s spazz medium
Ficker f*cker   high
spießig square/uptight bourgeois mild
Blödsinn bullsh*t   medium
Quatsch bullcrap nonsense mild
Depp idiot/moron   mild

Scheiße

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
fcking sht / goddmmit / motherfcker

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.

German English equivalent Literal meaning Vulgarity level
Fick dich f*ck you   high
Fick dich ins Knie go f*ck yourself   high
Ich würde mich lieber ins Knie ficken I’d rather go f*ck myself I’d rather go f*ck my knees high
Du blöde Kuh you stupid cow   medium
Du Weichei you sissy/wimp   mild
Leck mich (am Arsch) kiss my a*s lick me (on the butt) medium
Küss meinen Arsch kiss my a*s kiss my butt medium
Du kannst mich mal bite me / go f*ck yourself you can ___ me! medium
(Du) Hurensohn son of a btch / bstard   high
Verpiss dich p*ss off   medium
Halt maul / die + Fresse / Schnauze / Klappe shut the f*ck up shut yours / shut your + face / mouth medium
Fahr zur Hölle go f*ck yourself drive to hell medium

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 curse words). 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!