Watch Your Mouth! Three Words You Shouldn’t Say in Italian

Some of my favorite-and most popular-posts are about the complex, intriguing, sometimes difficult, but always charming … bella lingua italiana. A couple of months ago, Jessica from Why Go Italy shared her favorite Italian words, a week later, I listed five of mine and Melanie from Italofile started a meme that lists favorite Italian words over on her site.

In the meme, Melanie asked us to refrain from parolacce, so I write this post in no official manner and with no affiliation with afore-mentioned Italofile meme.

But really. Everyone loves Italian swear words. In fact, my previous post on the subject is one of my most-visited pages and I often get searched by Italophiles looking to cuss.

So, my friends. Here you have them. Three more of my favorite Italian curse words. In no particular order … .

1. Minchia
The first time I went to Sicily my husband told me to listen up for the word “minchia” … and in fact, we heard it everywhere we went. Minchia, Sicilian dialect for dick, is usually either drawn out, as in “miiiiiiinkea,” or shorted, as in “meee,” and can be used to express shock, like, “wow, that sucks,” or “oh, shit!”

Possibly the funniest time I heard this word, we were walking down one of Palermo’s main streets and passed a mom and her-oh, I’d say seven year old-son. The mom pointed at something and the little boy, with his precious eyes and sweet little face responded, “Meeee … .”

2. Stronza
You might be familiar with the more widely used masculine version of the word, “stronzo,” meaning “asshole” or “bastard,” but, my friends, should you meet a girl you don’t like and feel the need to call her an ugly name, you could say … stronza!

I learned this word early on from my husband’s cute-as-pie cousin who was mad at a girl from her local gym. She ranted, told us the story and ended with … “Mah! E’ una stronza!”

I like it.

3. Che Palle
Che palle,” literally-“what balls-” is used when you want to say something is a pain in the ass. This term is so common down here in Calabria that I can’t even remember the first time I heard it. It is usually said with exasperation, as are many significant Italian words, and is followed with a myriad of hand gestures and sighs.

So … tell me. What are some of your favorite Italian swear words?

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Photo: New Like Me

19 Responses
  1. Roseann


    Neopolitian for ‘bleed to death’……..

    It’s what my mother said when I was a kid and she was really mad.

    Do you have any idea what the words would be in real Italian?

    Ha, that is new to me, but I’ll definitely ask my husband. Anyone else know?

    1. Ciro


      when i read this, i thought immediately of my nonna who passed away in july of 2006, she always use to say this. <3

      Ooop! 🙂 Funny.

  2. Ok…che ne dici di “Non me ne frega niente!” o più peggio “Non me ne frega un cazzo”!

    I hear the first on all the Italian soaps…so, I thought of course, it couldn’t be all that vulgar…but when I said it to a couple of Italian friends during the course of a conversation…wow! they all got very excited and said I shouldn’t ever say that to anyone! evidentimente va bene per gli italiani ma non è per gli stranieri!!! 😉

    That is so funny! I remember asking my Italian teacher (in a class I took here in CZ) about that and she laughed so hard and told all of her friends. They use it like “who cares,” so it seems innocent enough … at first. 😉

  3. Who doesn’t like to learn parolacce? We had quite an education during our first three months from our Roman friends. My fave is troia, used like stronza, though my friend Francesca softens it to troietta. My husband is partial to cazzo, and it cracks me up every time he says it (usually in DC traffic) because he never cusses in English!

    That is funny! It sounds “sweeter” in Italian, too … right? 😉

  4. Roseann


    Do you mean like “Oh gotz” in Neopolitian?

    Ooooh, I’m not sure about “oh gotz,” – sounds similar to me, though! 🙂

    1. Ciro


      i know what you mean, its spelled “u cazz” or “stu cazz”. its like when someone says something to you and you’re fed up or something and you just say it. my brother knows quite a bit of the napoletano dialect.

      Thanks for the ‘splanation, Ciro!

  5. Ahhh, the beauty of Italian curse words. I am pretty sure that stronzo literally translates into “turd” which is an appropriate way to describe an asshole anyway 🙂

    Yea, literally it is, but that is such a nasty word in English, too, eh?? I mean, not that “asshole,” isn’t, but you know what I mean … right? 😉

  6. Roseann

    Or my most favorite rhyme:

    Dan la port e Maestro Cecc
    Sta la strunz nu zech a zech…
    Qui parle zo leeck

    And leeck is really lick in ‘broken’ English…….

    From my mother’s side of the family-my grandparents were from Castellemarre di Stabia…..

    (And this is the first time I’ve ever repeated it in public and tried to type it phonetically. I’m hoping you get the drift of it-it has a very sing song meter to it, flowing quite nicely off the tongue -which is probably why I’ve remembered it after all these years.

    Mom sprung it on the ‘3 kids’ when we were babbling so much she couldn’t stand it another minute……she’d use it to quite us down for a minute or two. And we shut up faster than you can imagine…….

    Noooo, I don’t get it!!! I’ll have to ask P to spell it out for me.

  7. Jill Short

    Maybe my favorite Italian word is zanzara–mosquito. It sounds exactly like a mosquito flying around your ear after you’ve turned out the light and are trying to go to sleep.

    Ha, yea the word is MUCH cuter than the bug!

  8. How about “non mi rompere i coglioni”?! One of my all time favorites even though I never actually get to use it 🙂

    I LOVE that one and am embarrassed to admit, use it all the time. The funny thing is when I’m really mad and talking fast, I fall over myself and say “non mi rompere il corleone!”

    1. Ciro

      @Aurora, I thought it meant “what the f**k do you want?” and che cazzo fai meant “what the f**k are you doing?”

      You are right Ciro. It does mean what *do* you want?!?

  9. Michele

    My husbands grand father would say “conyo tu madre”when he would get really angry. His sweet little wife tried to explain it to me, she had very limited english, I think I get the idea.the funny thing is that my then 3 year old with speech problems picked it up the first time he heard it and pronounced it perfectly and at the correct time. We later taught him to say “corn“ in stead.

  10. Bernie Bierman

    The following is for the benefit of those who heard Italian expressions spoken in Sicilian dialect or in the speech common to southern Italy. Because of marked changes in consonants – for example, “v” becoming a “p” and “c” becoming a “g” and ending vowels literally tossed to the winds – a word that sounded like “Pafangool” was really “Va fan culo” (lit, “make it to go up the ass”). Likewise the word “citrullo” (blockhead, knucklehead, dumbhead) came out “shidrul” (or “shidrool”). And pasta fagiola morphed into “pastafazool”. And with “c’s” becoming “g’s”, “p’s becoming “b’s” and ending vowels dropped everywhere, the meat known as capicola became…(hold onto your memories) “GABANGUL”, as did “cazzo in culo” become “gatzingool”.

  11. Anonymous

    my favorite word/expression would be — va fa Napoli – I guess could be translated as ma va fungulo?? or go F yourself?? I guess could mean a lot of things depending on the situation. chow fo now —

  12. Anonymous

    My great-grandmother used to say a really bad one that I don’t know how to spell- she was from Calabria (near Gizzeria). Something like gu-gatze-mama-tutta-fanna? I know it means something about your mother sucking balls or something close to that.

  13. Stephen H

    My wife’s family came to Australia from Tresilico in Calabria. Dozens of them moved here in the mid to late 60s.

    I am trying to find correct spelling – and meanings – for:

    1. Mensalanchi (pronounced menzalunky, and I understand it means “Between your legs”)
    2. Che catsa voi (a slightly more vulgar corsa voi – except Google translates the latter as “race you” rather than what I understood to be “what do you want?”)
    3. fanculo de la mange (“fu*k your food”?)

    Any help on spelling and/or meaning would be greatly appreciated.

  14. M.C

    These are wonderful and funny elements of Calabrian dialect to hold on to. Stephen my grandmother and mother often say ‘mensalanghu’ made me laugh hearing that.
    Here in Australia I was brought up with a wonderful, colourful array of dialect words. Here are a few more curses!

    Chi ti vuo yire na shcupettata sotto u culu – may you have a gunshot under your bottom
    Chi ti vuo yire nu male nuovo- may a new disaster befall you
    Chi ti vuo yire nu shuadru- may everything collapse around you

    Cucuzza- pumpkin
    Mamalucca- idiot, blockhead

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