Ma Che Ca**o Fa … and other expressions you shouldn’t say in Italian

Just like everything else where you have to take the good with the bad, living in Italy-and learning its romantic, sing-song language, has its bad side.

Luckily for me, the bad side is the fun side. A few months ago, Jessica at Why Go Italy listed her 8 favorite Italian curse words and later followed up with 12 more words from her Reader’s Choice.

And yes … those are good ones. But just for fun, here are 3 of my most sinfully favorite curse word expressions in Italian that you could, but shouldn’t let your mamma hear you say.

1. Ma che cazzo

Most often muttered when someone does or says something you don’t understand and partnered with the uplifted pinched fingers. It means, “what the F&ck are you talking about?”

And it is fun to say.

2. Porca puttana

Put “porca” in front of a word and it automatically gets dirtier. In this case, porca puttana or “pig whore,” can be used you are mad about something … like, “The airline tickets are double what we paid last year. Porca puttana!

3. Puttana d’ Eva

This was one of the first Italian curse expressions I learned and it just goes to show how much the human race-or at least, the Italians, blame Eve for their maladies.

While calling Eve a whore is never a nice thing, the whole idea behind getting pissed at Eve because you drop your book (or any other little thing you do where you would normally say “damn”) is just plain funny.

Although I don’t use this expression often, it always makes me smile. Yes, I know where I’m going …

But what about you? Do you tend to curse more in another language than you do in English? What are some of your favorites?

23 Responses
  1. Frankly, I think it is safer not to use them. Things that don’t sound so bad to a foreign ear are the worst! Also, if I were to use your first phrase, I can tell you my neighbors would lose respect… we still operate under a women should be ladies rule up here. We aren’t, ladies that is, but we don’t talk dirty so it’s harder to tell that.
    Ha. I am sure you *are* all ladies up there, Judith!
    .-= Judith in Umbria´s last blog ..Forging ahead =-.

  2. I tend not to curse in Italian. A few times I’ve used stronzo or stronzata, but that’s it. I love the porca curses, though. They always make me laugh. My favorite combo is porca vacca.
    I tend to curse more in Italian than in English … I guess it is because I don’t “feel” the words as strongly.
    .-= KC´s last blog ..Medieval Bestiary: Ram =-.

  3. J.Doe

    I was surprised when I moved to Italy to hear so many people cursing, especially the little old men that look like sweet grandfather types from afar.
    I don’t curse much in English or Italian because it’s not my style, although since I learned Italian in italy (from such sweet grandfatherly old men) I do sometimes say stronzata because I don’t know any nice words with which to express myself otherwise.
    My husband says sometimes ‘Porco Madonna’ and then follows it up by saying that he’s found religion, is religious or that he’s talking about the singer.
    Ha. Nice cover!! lol

  4. Amber~ Care and Feeding of Wild Things

    My husband doesn’t curse (except when he’s being funny), so it took me a while to figure out Italian curses after we got there. Even so, with a house full of boys we try very hard not to curse at all in English or Italian, unless using it for comic relief. The word I use often is “schiffo” (I know it’s not a swear word) because it just sounds so great in Italian. It is a habit. I still use it well more than a year after moving to the states. But all my husband’s friends? They say “miiiiiiinchia” a lot.
    If it makes you feel better, Michelle and I heard 7-year-old boys walking down the street in Palermo with their moms saying “miiiiiinchia,” as well. 🙂
    .-= Amber~ Care and Feeding of Wild Things´s last blog ..What Boys Like =-.

  5. Anon

    Btw Jessica’s two lists and yours, I’m surprised not to see Dio Cane! Which is also just weird when considered in English, but quite offensive to Italians.
    Oh yea, that is one of the worst. I don’t mess with those…

  6. My mother in law tried to teach me all sorts of dirty word… so, I started using my own. I love saying Forbici in place of the other “f” word. To me, it’s funnier saying … “scissors… it’s cold”

    My favorite that I hear alot is Ma che cavolo. I love hearing little old ladies say this. It always makes me smile.
    That is cute. I thought it was funny the first time I heard a woman calling another woman a “stronza.” Just sounded funny to me.
    .-= Sonia P.´s last blog ..Sorry for the Delay……. =-.

  7. j

    My grandmother had an extensive dirty word vocabulary. Of course I was little and didn’t know Italian, so she would use them in front of me all the time. It was only when I got older that some Italian swear words sounded strangely familiar. What does “managia” (sp) mean? She said that all the time.
    Hmm… I’ll have to ask P about that, unless it was “mangia” she was saying when she was trying to get you to eat???
    Oh no, I got it. She was saying “mannaggia!” It means “damn.”


  8. mcgrimus

    I think you’ve confused “porca” with “sporca,” the first meaning pig and the second meaning dirty (and sometimes s**t, like sporca di cane). Neither is a very nice thing to be called, though, so you’ll get the same response!

    Ah, “sporca di cane …” that doesn’t sound very nice, does it?

  9. demianlee

    Ma porcaccia di quella troia ma che cazzo state a sfanculare gli sfanculamenti di merda di quel branco di coglioni degli italiani rottinculo ciuccuacazzi di berlusconi che la madonna bucaiola se lo inculi lui e tutta la bastarda filiazione di fetenzie spalamerda che ha generato.
    Baciatemi il culo, che vi ho integrata minimamente la cultura,LOL.

    Gulp. I am blushing.

  10. A

    I remember fondly from my childhood the curses my mother and grandmother would mutter under their breath…I still enjoy it, in fact! My favourite has always been “porco miseria!” Every so often I’ll also catch my mom saying “va fancul.” She would never say that in English!

    Another interesting tid-bit that isn’t a curse but sort of qualifies for this post: My grandmother was making sandwiches for my mom and her friend once and asked my mom’s friend if she would like some merda di [sounds like] chel-la (a word for baby…perhaps slang?) In any case, my mom’s friend understood and couldn’t contain herself. Will you ever think of mustard in the same way?

    Agh!!! I was trying to figure that out! lol

  11. Being in Tuscany, I think it’s very funny that “Maremma” is both a region and an insult. Maremma mia!

    Hey, thanks for the new word. I had to ask P about this. 🙂

  12. AmyEmilia

    I hear “porca putana” and “stronzo” and “merde fascista” (might not have the spelling right on that last one) from A all the time. Sometime I find him speaking to the cat so sweetly, all in Italian and all cursing. Funny!

    That is hilarious!

  13. conpanbear

    My partner’s grandma only speaks Spanish, and I hardly knew any at this point, so there was this one time I asked about a certain word she had been saying at the end of every sentence some day.

    I asked my partner “What does coño mean?”

    He and his father laughed at me, and then explained to her what I had said, and they were all laughing at me, while I sat there very confused. Eventually I was educated; it is a very versatile swear word!!

    I still don’t speak much Spanish, but sometimes without thinking, if I’m stressed or pissed off, I mutter “ijo de puta”. I also know Japanese, but it is very hard to find proper swear words in that language!!

  14. Stephanie

    I curse in Italian all the time. When someone cuts me off while driving especially. I always say “Tu cazzo idiota!” Usually following a “dai davvero!” Then I give them the malocchio.

  15. Matteo

    There are a lot of swearing words in italian and many depends on regional locations: i.e. in Lombardy sometimes we swear to the Madonna (the Holy Virgin) because we feel She’s not behaving as a good mother to us; in Tuscany they refer directly to “The Boss” Himself and Maremma (the land) is cursed because in the past it was a very bad land to grow something on (same as Ireland during the Famine). Sometimes a swear uderstates something else: i.e. “Porca Puttana” doesn’t means exactly “Pig Whore” but more extensively “you dirty/filthy (as a pig) whore” and can be used when dropping a fragile obect to the ground or referring to bad luck like “Ma porca puttana, che sfiga!” (sfiga is a complex term: figa is the “pussy” and sfiga means “without the pussy” – from the concept women have it, so they can fool around men whenever they want, so a “sfigato/a” is a down on luck guy/gal ). In some areas (many, actually) you may NEVER refer to somenone’s mother, or else… It’s a very offending situation to italians, except mentioned mother is a really bad woman – but you don’t know. In Rome, otherwise, “fijo de ‘na mignotta” (son of a bitch) may refer to a over cunning and (little bit evil) skilled guy who “knows more” and take advantage of any situation or being a plain and simple insult to a really bad person. Then there are local insults as “Pirla” (ancient Milano saying), “belino” (Venetian) or others referring to a guy/gal acting with same brain as a d*ick… That’s the good of being thousands year old (as a people): we had plenty of time to create nasty words – by the way, of course… So, be aware, there are infinite variation of.

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