Bad words, “Parolacce” are used and abused in Italy. For this reason, some people prefer mild expressions, which sound like bad words but are not. Learn Italian “non-swear” words with our podcast.
“Parolacce” are among the first words foreigners learn when they come to Italy. They are fun, very common and most important, they break the rules of polite communications, stuff they teach you at school, so they are very intriguing.
But if you are here to learn new Italian bad words, you will probably be disappointed. Just google them and you will find plenty of resources to fulfill your curiosity. I will teach you some Italian “pseudo-cursing”, euphemisms (eufemismi) like the English darn, freaking, shoot etc that Italian people say instead of normal parolacce. Listen to the podcast and learn some manners!
Che cacchio vuoi?
In Italian there’s a C word, probably the most used “parolaccia”. Even if you are a beginner in Italian, you know what I’m talking about, so don’t pretend you don’t know! There are countless words to name it and cacchio is an almost “clean version” of those. “Che cacchio vuoi” has about the same meaning of “what the heck do you want?”.
Non ho capito un cavolo
It replaces the same bad word as above. Cavolo (lit. cabbage) is a totally harmless version of cacchio, which instead retains a little dose of cursing. It is so light that children actually say that. It is very common, so you can safely use it and give an informal touch to your Italian speech.
“Vaffambagno!” or “Vai a farti un giro”
Again, io so che tu sai! I know that you know the Italian “vaffa…” word and its meaning. If you don’t, look it up on google. The root of the word, vaffa… is actually quite clean. It’s the contraction of vai a fare lit “go and do”, or “go and make”. Vaffambagno means “go and take a bath”. It doesn’t get cleaner than this… Vai a farti un giro literally means “go and take a walk”, much healthier than go and… do something else. You can read another post + podcast on the use of the verb farsi in conversational Italian.
Accidenti, ho perso le chiavi!
Quite understandable. I lost my keys! This is not a replacement of any bad word, it’s juts a soft exclamation. Simple and elegant, not vulgar. Us it!
Okay, the word “porca” (coming from porco, pork) may not be very elegant, but it’s not so dirty either. We use it a lot in spoken Italian. What makes it a bad word is what comes after “porco” or “porca”. Porca miseria sounds like “Damned misery”. That’s the basic, acceptable soft cursing that goes along with “porca”. In most cases, Italians say porca + very bad words and it can escalate quite dramatically into something you have never heard in your life.
Very mild expression, absolutely clean. It’s actually cleaner than the equivalent English Gosh! This word comes from old Southern Italian dialects: “mal n’aggia”, roughly “May you be damned”. Nowadays nobody is really aware of the original meaning of this interiezione. We also say Mannaggia a me (to me) , a te (to you), a lui and so on…
I’m a big fan of American movies and I don’t pay much attention to profanities. There are bad words on Italian TV too. Nonetheless, I fell very uneasy when I hear the name of Jesus followed by a number of bad words. Some Italians do swear a lot against god, but most people don’t. And you won’t hear any “bestemmia” (blasphemy) on TV. The closest safe word, which has almost nothing to do with Cristo is Cribbio, a sort of holy cow!
Or caspiterina simply means wow! It’s a CA… word like cavolo and cacchio, but totally inoffensive.
Some students assume that Italians curse a lot and it’s cool, or entertaining, if a foreigner did too. It’s ok to place some bad words here and there, but I think it’s useful to know euphemisms and use the real deal only when you really need it…
Thanks for listening! Alla prossima.