Swear (+ Bad) Words in Finnish
  • Helvetti:translates to hell and has roughly the same meaning in the English language. It has its roots in the Swedish word Helvete, with the same meaning. An often used phrase is "What the hell?" in Finnish "Mitä helvettiä?". For an augmentative expression, both in a positive or negative sense, "helvetin" can be prefixed into an adjective, e.g. helvetin hyvä "helluva good".
  • Hitto:,probably from pagan origin, is a relatively mild swear word, but still considered an expletive. Its diminutive form is "hittolainen". Both words are references to a sacred grove or burial site or a mythical creature. It can nowadays be translated to "a devil" or some other little satanic being. Hitto is usually translated Damn (it). One of the funniest forms of using hitto word could be hitto soikoon, "may the hitto chime", and may be similar to the English phrase "Hell's bells."
  • Hiisi:means either Hell itself or some sort of satanic being, specially as a wish (painu hiiteen, literally "go to hiisi" but means "go to hell". Hiisi vieköön, "may the hiisi take (it)".) Hiisi is also a Finnish, evil mythical creature, but is not regarded as the same thing as a devil. The word "hiiteen" is an abbreviation of the word "hiitola", which is a place ancient Finns once thought was the hiihis' locality.
  • Huora:The word means whore, and like the English word, may be considered too profane for civil conversation, to be replaced by prostituoitu "prostitute" in the literal meaning. Although it can be used to call someone names, it is not used as a swearword on its own.
  • JUMALAUTA:is a combination of two words "jumala" meaning god and "auta" meaning help. It is used in a similar fashion to "Oh my God" except in Finnish it tends to have a slightly aggressive emphasis, usually used as a way of expressing one's frustration. Another translation for "Oh God" is "Voi luoja" (luoja = the creator, a synonym for God). An ad campaign for Church aid for third world countries used "JumalAuta" as an eyecatcher. This raised discussion for being too profane. The English expression "God help me" is an accurate (and literal) translation of jumalauta. However, since this lacks the undertones of profanity, a translation to "goddamn" it may be considered more correct.
  • Kulli:A word for "penis", usually literally, considered somewhat profane.
  • Kusi:means "urine" with a similar connotation as "piss". By itself it refers to actual urine and is considered only mildly offensive in colloquial language. It's used of people in compound words, such as "kusipää" (pisshead, common translation of "asshole"), as very offensive insults. Derivative terms: kusettaa (jotakuta) "to defraud, to cheat (someone)", kusettaa (in passive mood) "feel an urge to urinate"
  • Kyrpä:Literally "cock" in the sense of "penis"; often considered highly offensive. The word nearly always refers to an actual penis and may be used, for example, to express frustration: Voi kyrpä! "Oh fuck!". The widespread verb vituttaa "to feel angry and depressed" originates from its meaning "to want pussy". Therefore, classically, women should not use vituttaa, but kyrpiä, e.g. kyrpii "this makes me feel bad". One form of using the word is "kyrpä otsassa" which means that someone is really pissed off. The literal meaning is "to have a dick on the forehead".
  • Mulkku:Has the literal meaning "penis", but may refer, like English "prick", to an unpleasant man, both as a noun and as an adjective.
  • Molo:Usually used only literally for "penis", somewhat profane. Has a derivation molopää, corresponding to English "dickhead".
  • Muna:Literally means "egg" and may refer to a literal penis, but is not considered an insult or particularly profane. For example, there is a gay cruise named Munaristeily, which is publicly marketed as such. It also means "testicle", usually said in plural form munat "testicles". "Olla munaa" can mean either being courageous or just obscene, to "have balls".
  • Paska:Paska translates as "shit" or "crap" and has approximately the same context in English and Finnish, although it may be more profane. It has the same connonations of "shoddy" or "broken," which may even surpass the word's use in the original sense in frequency. Derivative terms: paskiainen "shithead" (or "son of a bitch"), paskamainen "unfair, depressing, unpleasant, shitty", paskainen "(literally) shitty", paskapää "(literally) shithead".
  • PERKELE:Perkele was originally imported from Baltic languages, supposedly transformed from the Baltic god of thunder (compare: Lithuanian: Perkūnas, Latvian: Pērkons, Prussian: Perkūns, Yotvingian: Parkuns), as an alternate name for the thunder god of Finnish paganism, Ukko, and co-opted by the Christian church. In an early translation of The Bible to Finnish, the word was stated to be a word for the devil, thus making it a sin to be uttered. However, later, in 1992 translation, the word is switched to paholainen. Perkele or Ukko was known as the rain and thundergod, similar to Thor of Norse mythology." [1]. The "r" can be rolled and lengthened, which can be transcribed by repeating it. The word is very common in the country and likely the best known expletive abroad, and enjoys a kind of emblematic status; for instance, the Finnish black metal band Impaled Nazarene named its 1994 patriotic album Suomi Finland Perkele (using the word as a reference to Finnishness, not to the devil) and the more conventional M. A. Numminen released a 1971 album known as Perkele! Lauluja Suomesta ("Perkele! Songs from Finland"). When used to express discontent or frustration, perkele often suggests that the speaker is determined to solve the problem, even if it will be difficult. It is associated with sisu, which in turn is an iconic Finnish trait.[3] Professor Kulonen has described perkele as being ingrained in the older generations, as opposed to kyrpä and vittu for the younger ones.[4] A common and milder replacement word is perhana, and less popular variations include perkules, perskuta, perskuta rallaa and perkeleissön. The word has lent itself to a Swedish expression for Finnish business management practices, Management by perkele. Derivative terms: perkeleellinen "infernal".
  • Perse:("ass") can be used either literally or as a semi-strong swear word. It is often found in expressions like "Tämä on perseestä" ("This (situation) is from the ass!") The similarities with the Latin phrase "per se", the Hungarian "persze" (which means "of course", comes from the aforementioned Latin and is pronounced mostly the same way), the hero Perseus and the ancient city of Persepolis are purely coincidental, although the wide use of "persze" in spoken Hungarian could sound somewhat embarrassing to Finnish visitors. Derivative terms: perseet (olalla), literally "to have one's arse up on one's shoulders", that is, "drunk".
  • Piru:, meaning "devil" is not always considered a swearword but sometimes used in a similar fashion to the word damn: "Piru vieköön" (lit. "let (the) Devil take (it)"). A more proper word for devil is paholainen. The derivative word pirullinen ("devilish", "diabolical") is used as in English.
  • Saatana:means quite literally Satan, but used in a similar fashion to helvetti. Along with "perkele" and "vittu", this is one of the most classic and most used words in Finnish. Often used together with helvetti as saatanan helvetti. The derivative term saatanallinen ("satanic") is used in context as in English.
  • Vittu:Vittu is an ancient word for the female genitalia but now has the literal meaning of "cunt". Linguistically, it is used similar to how 'fuck' is used in English to add force to a statement or express frustration. Often considered extremely profane, its usage is nowadays not only limited to teenager slang, but is often used as an emphasis in a forceful or frustrated utterance or expression, as in mitä vittua? "what the fuck?". Other common phrases with vittu include voi vittu ("Oh fuck"), (ja) vitut! ("The fuck you say!" / "Bullshit!", lit. "(and) cunts"); haista vittu ("fuck you!", lit. "(go) smell (a) cunt"; painu (hevon) vittuun ("fuck off", lit. "go crawl up a (horse's) cunt"); olla naama norsun vitulla, (lit. "to have one's face like the elephant's cunt", meaning to be sour and unfriendly).Entire sentences can be constructed using these combinations "Vittu, vituttaa niin vitusti" (Fuck this, I'm so fucking pissed off) etc. Occasionally, one hears more colorful constructions, such as Vittujen kevät ja kyrpien takatalvi! (paraphrased, "Holy fucking shit!" or literally "The spring of cunts and the late winter of dicks!"). Notably, vittu is also used as an energetic mood, as in "vitun iso" ("fucking big") or "Mä meen vittu sinne" ("I'm (really) fucking going there") or to declare a negative outcome, as in meni vituiksi ("(smth.) was fucked up"). Similar-sounding euphemistic replacements include hitto (see above), vitsi or hitsi. Also kettu ("fox"), vattu ("raspberry") and pottu (potato) are often used as replacement words due to their rhyming with vittu. Several verbs and adjectives have also been derived from vittu: vituttaa technically means "to want/need some cunt", though the meaning of it is actually something like "to feel angry and depressed", vittuuntua "to get angry", vittumainen an adjective for "annoying". In more polite conversation these derivations can be done from the euphemism kettu: ketuttaa, kettumainen etc. The other euphemisms mentioned above cannot be used to form such derivations. "Vittu" is commonly combined with other profanities, as in "vittusaatana" and "vittuperkele".
  • Wikipedia
Joder (& nicer ways to say it)

So in English, we have softer curse words like Dang! Darn! Fudge! and Crap! instead of Damn! F*ck! and Sh*t! (call me a wuss but I really am not comfortable with swears in English - I have to censor them)

In Spain, the most common swear term is ¡Joder!

As in:

¡Joder! Dejé mis papeles en la casa. - F*ck! I left my papers at home.

¡Joder! ¡Qué día más larga! Estoy fatigada. - F*ck! What a long day! I´m exhausted.

Here are some variations of the Spanish word joder that are acceptable even for children to use:

  • ¡Jo!
  • ¡Jopetas!
  • ¡Jopé!
  • ¡Jolín!
  • ¡Jolines!
Curse Words

Ooh, a hot topic. As such, I’ll present a variety of (hopefully unbiased) viewpoints and arguments for and against cursing in a novel, followed by my own opinion on the matter.

This isn’t a “yes you should” or “no you shouldn’t” or “you can but follow these rules” post. There is no right answer to this question.

  • There is no “right” answer to the question of whether or not to include swear words.

This is something you need to decide for your novel.


  • Authenticity in character—some people do curse on a regular basis. It’s part of the way they talk, and it should be included in their dialogue because it does give a personal flare to their speech. Of course, not everyone curses, and everyone has different thresholds of when, where, and why they use swears. There are times when a substituted word simply doesn’t feel right—it’s more authentic for them to say it.
  • Authenticity in work—at some workplaces, it’s simply the language that everyone uses. Of course it varies by the job, location, etc, but my sister worked at a restaurant and said it was simply part of the lingo while they were in the kitchen, along with other jargon like a five top or whatever else. I saw the same in the warehouse at my Best Buy, as opposed to out on the sales floor. I’ve heard that cursing is part of military life, too. Taking out the language that’s common to a situation won’t feel as realistic.
  • Weight—curse words do carry more weight than normal language. As such, a few well-placed swears can be a great to clue in how serious the speaker is about something. If they’re a character that rarely curses, you know they mean business when they’ve been pushed past their threshold to the point where they say something they wouldn’t normally say. This follows the idea of emphasis through isolation.
  • Keeps interest—maybe especially true in YA. When a teacher or professor suddenly says a swear during class, often the class laughs as a result.  It can unexpected to hear that language at times, and that can reel in a reader’s interest or make them pay specially attention to a sentence. Like the above reason, swearing can be a way to clue in that “this is important” which might draw a reader back in.
  • Honesty—in the way of saying it as it is, and not sugarcoating. If a character wants to swear, then damn well let them swear. Some writers worry that their novel won’t appeal to as many readers if they use a lot of swears, since some people will be turned off by that. Being unapologetic with your use of curse words can show that this is the way you intended to write it, and you won’t sacrifice authenticity to spare a few readers’ feelings. Some readers will respect you for this choice!


  • Can sound forced—sometimes writers only include cursing because they’re trying to fit one of the reasons listed above. They do it to try to sound authentic, but it just doesn’t end up sounding very realistic. Maybe the curse word doesn’t fit the situation or the character, maybe it’s being overused, or maybe it just doesn’t feel natural.
  • Can be easily overused—there are people in real life who use the f-word once (or more) a sentence, along with a ton of other words not intended for polite conversation. But even dialogue can suffer from unnecessary repetition. Similar to how it’s poor writing to have a character say “Yeah, like, I just like, though I would you know, like, say hi,” it can feel so unnecessary and start to get annoying, even though you’re trying to portray how some people do actually talk. Again, it feels forced.
  • Lack of something better to say—since curse words are harsh, some argue that reverting to swears is just a way to simplify the language. There should be a better way to get the point across. Things like saying “he’s just an f-ing idiot” instead of a “clueless idiot” or a “lovesick idiot” or something that might be more specific to the situation, instead of a curse worse that acts as more of a blanket meaning and level of harshness. Curse words can easily become “filler” words.
  • Can lead into stereotypes—as in, some writers may use cursing as a way to make a character seem more realistic, but end up falling into stereotypes about how people who cursed are less educated, less refined, and so on. Cursing can be seen as a crude language, so some readers have their character curse as a way to distinguish them from the more upper-class members of their story. Cursing might be used as an easy way to dumb down a character. But, of course, this is a stereotype! Brilliant people can curse too, while the not-too-bright might have personal conflicts against speaking like that.
  • Shock Value—as the opposing argument for swearing as a way to keep interest. Cursing shouldn’t just be included for shock value, because that’s a cheap way to get your reader’s attention. It also only works for a little while. The more you curse as a way to be shocking or edgy, the more readers will realize how cheap and fake your forced in curse words are.

A kind of middle road: Some people advocate making up your own swear or using a euphemism, especially if you’re in a fantasy or sci-fi universe. Things like “blood and ashes!” or “D’arvit!” or “fugging/fracking/frigging” or something else, where the feeling behind the words is clear, but you’re not technically using a swear of the English language.

My thoughts on it: Curse words are great. In moderation.

First off, curse words carry a lot of weight. On a societal level, curse words are strong and carry a lot more heft and can bring up much more emotional responses than a euphemism like “darn” or “fudge.” As such, while I think it’s totally okay for your characters to swear, you need to realize that just a few usages of a swear word go a long way. You don’t need to swear every other line to make a point. You can swear once or twice in a chapter and still get your point across. If anything, your writing will improve because cutting down on usages will make each instance mean more.

Secondly, it’s essential to consider your character and the situation. Some characters will never curse, even in the worst situations. Others might only curse when they’re sad, or scared, or angry. Some really have to be pushed to that point, while for others it’s a normal part of their vocabulary. If you’re pro-curse words, realize that not everyone talks like that. If you’re anti-curse words, realize that not everyone talks like that, either. My cursing IRL is slim to none, but I don’t let that damper the language of my characters. If the swear fits, then let your character use it.

Which leads into my final point: curse words can be a great way to emphasize a moment. Again, character. If you’re character never swears, but in the middle of an argument the f-word slips out, it’s a major clue. That subject matters to them. It’s pushed them beyond their comfort zone. When used in moderation, the few times when you do use a swear are points with much more emotion and drama. And you know how much we writers thrive on drama.

I usually let my characters curse however they want on the 1st draft, and in draft 2 I try to rearrange the sentence to take out the swear. If there is absolutely no way to keep the same weight and emotion in that sentence without the curse word, then I keep it. I only apply this technique to the “worse” swears, so like excluding damn or hell.

So figure out which of your characters would curse and which wouldn’t! And be careful to not choose that based on an assumption that curse word usage is an indicator for intelligence or refinement.

To reiterate: There is no “right” answer to the question of whether or not to include swear words. This is something youneed to decide for yournovel.


This post was inspired by a conversation that took place in my class. These points were all brought up by students in an interesting conversation! So, anyone else have thoughts about this they’d like to add?

I always thought it was extreme that the Dutch sometimes swear with infectious diseases, but living here means learning to get around by bike. This has really forced me into this angry defensive mentality. When there’s always a threat of being hit by a car, knocked over by another careless cyclist, having your right of way taken away from you when you’re zooming down the hill, it is almost instinctual to tell someone to “krijg de pest!” (get the plague!)

Idiomatic poetry in motion, my friends.

Now you can swear and still sound fancy


Oh, merde! - Oh, shit!

Va te faire foutre, trouduc - Fuck off, asshole

(C'est des) conneries - (This is) bullshit

Abruti - Moron 

Avale mes couilles grosse pute - Swallow my balls big bitch

Batard - Bastard 

Branleur - Wanker

C'est quoi ce bordel ? - What the fuck?

Casse toi! - Piss Off/ Fuck

Debile / Connard - Idiot 

Couilles - Testicles 

Encule / Fous le camp / Fous le camps - Fuck off

Enculer une mouche - go fuck a fly

Face de cul - Butt face

Fils de pute - Son of a bitch

Il est stupide - He is stupid

J'ai envie de chier - I want to shit

J'en ai rien à branler / J'en ai rien à foutre - I don’t give a fuck

Je peux sentir ta chatte - I can smell your cunt

Je t'emmerde! - Screw you!

Je t'encule! - Fuck you!

Je vais te baiser. - I’ll fuck you

Lache-moi la grappe - Get the fuck away from me 

Mange de la merde - Eat shit

Mange ma bite - Eat my dick

Petit tabernac - Little fucker

Putain t'es moche - You’re fucking ugly 

Sac à merde - Shit bag

Salope - Bitch

Ta mere suce des bites en enfer - Your mother sucks cock in hell

Va t'empaler encule - Go fuck yourself

Va te faire enculer chez les Grecs - Go get fucked in the ass by Greeks

Viens m'enculer - Fuck me 

Le con / La conasse / La chatte - Cunt 


A fanabla - Go to hell

Brutto figlio di puttana - ugly son of a bitch 

Cazzo - Fuck

Ce un cibirut - You have a small dick

Che cazzo - What the fuck

Faccia a culo - Assface

Fica / Figa / Sorca - Cunt 

Figlio di Troia / Figlio un cane - Son of a bitch 

Ma’ va te ne a fanculo - Go fuck yourself 

Mangia merde e morte - Eat shit and die 

Merda - Shit

Pezzo di merda - Piece of shit

Pompinara - Cock sucker 

Testa di cazzo / Testa di minchia - Dickhead