Italian swear words. a quick guide (contains strong language!)

Further to Gianfranco Fini’s recent outburst of ‘stronzo’ (see post below) it might be useful to give a quick guide to a few commonly used swear words in Italy. Like most other things they may vary from region to region, province to province, town to town, but these are all fairly standard and to be used with caution:

stronzo: see previous post.

examples “Sei uno stronzo!” – you’re an asshole!

See also female equivalente, “Che stronza!” “what a a bitch!”not to be confused with’Che stronzata‘ , what a load of bull(shit).

cazzo: literally the vulgar term for ‘penis’ but used in a variety of grammatical contexts (English equivalent ‘fuck’)
Che cazzo dici?‘ – what the fuck are you saying? / talking about?
Cazzo!’  – fuck (it)!
E’ una testa di cazzo – he’s a jerk, fucking idiot
Quel cazzo di macchina – that fucking car
Ho fatto una cazzata – I fucked it up (similar to stronzata)
Non me ne frego un cazzo – I couldn’t give a fuck

Vaffanculo! – fuck off! although more literally ‘sod off’ (Brit English) as ‘culo‘ is the vulgar word for ass(hole).
Often abbreviated to ‘fanculo‘ or neutralised with synonymous phrases such as ‘Vaffanbrodo‘, avoiding the actual swear word!

Merda! – literally shit and used as an exclamation as in English. Similar use to cazzo
e.g. tempo di merda – shit weather

NOTE: for much milder exclamations use accidenti! cavoli! caspita! which are not swear words at all (gosh, crikey, etc.)

Palle or balle – balls (meaning testicles)
Che (due) palle! – what a pain in the ass!
Non rompermi le palle / balle! – don’t break my balls, don’t give me a hard time
You may hear the more ‘refined’ synonym ‘coglioni‘ instead of palle

Often considered much stronger than the above ‘swear words’ are blaspehmous words and phrases which are sadly quite common. I won’t go into those here although suffice it to say that they usually involve the use of Dio (God) or Madonna together with the name of an animal….! *** NB For experts only and to be on the safer side NEVER USE THEM!

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16 Responses to Italian swear words. a quick guide (contains strong language!)

  1. Pecora Nera says:

    Ah ha ha, I hear these all the time in the factory,

  2. Myla Santos says:

    it was so curse words
    like it

  3. jayna says:


    8====D —– — – — —

  4. makenzie says:

    im learning italian in school so when i get mad i say vaffanculo

  5. dreamy_chic says:

    porco puttana …….

  6. Antonio Silvestro says:

    There is no excuse for bad manners.

    • I think it such a disgrace that whomever decided that these words people are reading are in any way indicative of the good ITALIAN PEOPLE in the USA use in their everyday lives is a shame. Real ITALIANS do not speak this way. I for one am completely offended and will begin a movement to discourage the misrepresentation of TRUE ITALIANS and this offensive language. Not only are the words offensive but the connotations are WRONG! Please if you are not a racist then dis- regard what you read and possibly believe. Antonio Silvestro has it right!!!!!!!

      • MarkD says:

        Thanks for your comments but I’m afraid you really have got the wrong end of the stick. I wasn’t implying in any way that these words are “representative” of good Italians at all. They are merely words which are commonly used – although of course not by everyone – and I also believe that I warned that they are to be used with caution, just as “swear” words are in any language. I don’t know what you mean by “the connotations are wrong”, but I rather think that your interpretation of the post may indeed be “wrong”. Thank you for calling by.

  7. Raffo says:

    Being an Italian I lough, nice blog.

  8. Ciccio says:

    Wrong…Testa di Cazzo is Dick Head

  9. Paula says:

    Lighten up there a bit bud… Life is good– Have you ever been to Italy? I’m afraid for you in Italy those words are all so very common, all day, everyday and not so unusual coming out from the mouths of 98 year old “good” women! Somehow the words don’t seem so offending (to me at least) in the Italian language, especially hearing them from those sweet looking, gray headed wrinkled old women!

    • MarkD says:

      I know these words are common because a) yes, I live in Italy and b) I hear them on a daily basis in a wide variety of contexts, from young & old, lower and upper classes etc. I wanted to make them clear because often they are the first words you may learn when learning Italian in Italy, or indeed any other language in a native settings. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

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