Learn Croatian Swear Words: Swear Like a Croatian Guide

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Learn Croatian Swear Words: Swear Like a Croatian Guide

I wrote a piece for the Expats Blog annual writing competition about Croatian swear words, well, phrases actually. I had some great feedback from it (& even won a Gold Medal), so I thought I’d share it with you all.

It seems that (most) Dalmatians just love to shorten words, sing and as I have come to learn: swear, and swear a lot! Below is a list of a few phrases you’ll find handy here in Dalmatia. Just a word of warning, a few might offend, so apologies upfront if you find yourself blushing at these Croatian swears.

If you want to know some of the general everyday phrases, then we have a learn Croatian guide that may help you! But, if you want to learn how to swear in Croatian, read on for just a handful of some Croatian swear words translated for your pleasure.

YOU CAN ALSO READ PART II OF THE GUIDE TO SWEARING LIKE A CROAT HERE

Nemoj me jebat

Not the most polite of the phrases you’ll hear, but trust me you will hear it. Maybe not heard in the shopping center or any formal situations, but if someone is telling a tale that just seems too incredible to believe, you’ll hear the other person say nemoj me jebat. To keep this PG, it’s important to use your imagination a little. Dalmatians like to swear, so keep that in mind. You should know that you’d use this phrase when in English you’d want to say are you serious? But it translates to do not f*ck with me. You get the idea right? If not reach out to me and I’ll explain.

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Čaću ti jarca

Do you have stubborn kids? Well, you may want to keep this one handy then, as it’s mostly used when your kids are stubborn mules. Although I still can’t see why as it’s a terrible phrase. It means f*ck your goat Father. That’s right you heard it correctly, he just mentioned your father and a goat in that way. Sometimes it’s best just not to say some of these phrases, but rather just know what they mean when you hear them, this is one of them. Swearing in Croatian could get you some weird looks – so be warned.

Boli me kurac

Oh dear, here we go again. Of all of the Croatian swear words, this is the one that my wonderful Dalmatian husband repeats regularly, and again it contains words that I cannot type exactly.  I told you Dalmatians loved to swear – did I not? You’d say this phrase when you simply do not care about what the person is telling you or what is going on around you. Although the literal translation makes zero sense to that use at all. It actually means that you have a pain in your nether regions of the manly kind. Like I said it makes no sense, but trust me if you met my husband or his Dalmatian friends you’d need to know that phrase.

If you like a slightly more polite version is boli me ona stvar that translates to, that thing hurts me, and once again makes no sense. However, it’s simply used for saying, I don’t give a damn.

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Learn How to Swear Guide

Kako da ne

The literal translation is how yes no. Which, of course, means nothing obvious. I heard this a few times before I realized that it simply means of course…NOT.

Katastrofa 

Catastrophe. With the same meaning in English, this Croatian swear word is not used for an ACTUAL catastrophe. It’s instead used to exaggerate your point (full explanation here).  You’ll hear this in the coffee shop, at your friend’s house and your 80-year-old Baba {Grandmother} will say it when the wind is blowing, as Croatians have an irrational fear of the wind, like the Bura. Don’t panic. It’s not actually anything to worry about. Nothing of any kind. Ništa {nothing} to see or worry about. Feel free to use it as an exaggeration to highlight how you feel when you arrive at the bakery and you’re told that they just sold the last Krafna of the day – katastrofa!

learning croatian Katastropha

I had to be sure I heard it right…

Ne mogu više, hvala 

If you plan to visit your Croatian family and friends here in Croatia for a meal, it’s a wise move to ensure that you do not eat a big meal leading up to your visit. Your Croatian friends and family – especially the older ones will be throwing food at you left right and centre. The same goes for drinks. You’ll have to try all of the seasons finest offerings no matter how much you say you’re no longer hungry. Hungry or not, the food and drinks will keep on coming. Inevitably you’ll reach the point where you will fear that undoing your button on your pants won’t be enough and that you may just actually explode. At this point, you can reach for the phrase Ne mogu više, hvala!. Which means you can’t take anymore. Just do not over use this phrase or use it after just one slice of cake and a rakija, as they may not believe you.

Živjeli

This is an important phrase if you plan to share a drink with a local. Before you take your very first sip of your local wine or the heart-stopping Croatian brandy known as rakija, you’ll need to shout the phrase ŽIVJELI!!! Which is Croatian for cheers! It’s also accompanied by the pounding of the glass on the table, and THEN you may take your first mouthful.

So there you have a few phrases that you’ll hear in Dalmatia, and if the Dalmatians you meet are like my family they’ll love you even more if you say one back – just be careful who you say them too!

YOU CAN READ PART II OF THE GUIDE TO SWEARING LIKE A CROAT HERE & PART III HERE.

Already know English? Then why not teach English abroad –  you can make money to keep traveling or just get that overseas experience.

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  1. Choban says

    “Da” in “kako da ne” doesn’t translate to “yes” but to “to”, so it’s much more like “how to no/not”, and it means just “of course”, not “of course not”, unless one is trying to be sarcastic.

    Source: I’m Croatian

  2. says

    My mother used a lot of these when I was growing up. I remember them fondly, even if I never even understood what they meant when I was younger. I do remember some more, harsher ones, though.

  3. Martina says

    I’ve finally found it! My new favorite blog! Totally on point with all of these. I could think of so many more. A couple of really good ones I’ve heard… “jebo ti prasac mater u dupe!” AND “jebala te opcina!”

    A czech man I know, who lived in Croatia for a time, told me that in Croatia cussing is an art form. Totally.

  4. Sara says

    hahahahahaha this is funny!!! I love your blog, just found it accidentally. Keep doing what you do, it’s so cool to read about our everyday life and customs, because we don’t look at it that way as you do. We don’t know how many things are strange to you (and all foreigners).
    This really made me laugh!

    And no, Croatians are not morons as someone said. We are just direct and more out there than other nations. This is our culture. The same goes for Serbians and Bosnians. We don’t look at cursing as a big thing because everyone talks like that and more often it’s being said as a joke. It’s more of a buzzword, than an actual curse. 9 out of 10 times you use it as a joke, that 1 time you use it to express anger/frustration/whatever…

  5. jlake says

    And then you have the concatenated ones… jebitisvojumilumaterutripickemilematerinejebimateruguzicuretaju.
    But this is more introduction to juicy intermediate level 😉

  6. d says

    And then you have the concatenated ones… jebitisvojumilumaterutripickemilematerinejebimateruguzicuretajudabilijeba.
    But this is more introduction to juicy intermediate level 😉

  7. Manuela says

    I think you didn’t mention one curse that so common in almost every situation of someones life.. ahha

    MRŠ / MARŠ – it literally means “go” but in a bad way, when someone makes you sth bad then you say i.e. MRŠ U PIČKU MATERINU ( go to your mother’s pussy – yuck i know…)

    and it can also be a very good RESPONSE to a curse, so if someone’s f*** ur mother be free to respond with MARŠ

    we also have ĐUBRE – it’s live stock’s shit, but used for a bad person

  8. Bodulac says

    You can’t go past “jebate pas mater” or “ajde u kurac”.
    They are guaranteed at any family function.

  9. Shawn cozad says

    My grand mother told me goomna in your gotchas eedie dama was you shit in your pants go home

  10. Beatrix Roux says

    As a South African home-owner in Stari Grad, Hvar I have heard a lot of these swear words so many times. Best of all is even the smallest of children use them as well – with no reprimands whatsoever

    • MahnitiTapir says

      LOL..
      :-)

      Yes, it’s kinda hard expect kids not to emulate grownups…
      But anyway, Croatians are notoriously politically incorrect and this is one of those things…

      Btw. how long does the whole trip SA-Hvar takes?
      I guess ~1 full day.
      I’ve traveled long-haul a lot, but never had 11h flight without jet-lag.
      :-)

  11. Anna says

    One of the first Croatian words my husband taught me was “dosta” (not sure if I got the spelling right). It means “enough” and was what you told any well meaning Teta, Nona, etc as they tried to get you to eat third and fourth helpings of food. Not sure if it’s Croatian or more Istrian.

    • says

      Ohhh yes, I should add that tip in also. That was my first way I learned it. It’s Croatian and is easier than ne mogu vise that is for sure. Does it work?

    • Manuela says

      Croatian and Istrian are the same language… and believe it or not we do understand each other very well, although some regions do have funny accent…

  12. MIlutin says

    Just a general comment…The language you talk about is Serbo-Croatian. Serbian and Croatian are just two variants of the same language. Much like British and American English.

    • MahnitiTapir says

      Really? That’s your comment?
      I don’t get it why so many Serbians have this need to convince all other nations around them that they are actually Serbs, speaking Serbian language and rest of such nonsense?

      Never seen any other nation doing something similar…

      • Manuela says

        They certainly do not use latin alphabet soo… if u ask aaany Croatian citizen, you’ll get an answer like this : Ne uspoređuj me sa srbinom ni pod razno ( do not compare me with a Serb “neither under different”- again makes no sense)- especially Dalmatian :’D

        • Mirjana says

          “Razno” in this context I would translate not as different but rather as miscellaneous. – “Do not compare me with the Serb not even under miscellaneous.” Although the meaning is the same, miscellaneous just points out to this difference we feel a little bit better. :)

  13. M.D. says

    Does anyone know what
    MUSTNAFREZIA means-/
    My Mom would say this when us kids would ask what’s for dinner — we always thought it meant NOTHING
    But I can’t find anything on it.
    Please help

  14. Cassandra says

    My husband, father-in-law and MOTHER-in-law are always saying “jeban ti miša!” Which I think literally translates to “f*ck your mouse”. They use it when we would typically say “shoot” or “shit.” My mother-in-law is the sweetest lady on the planet and I would never expect her to swear but I’m told it’s a Croatian thing.

  15. says

    hehe,don’t forget…Jebe’mu mater when something goes wrong or Nemoj Jebat (no shit?)….yap too much of swearing and these are just the light versions of it.Better not to hear the real ones :-)

  16. Croatialover says

    My Zagreb born husband always talks about a phrase that means “your mother’s vagina” It seems to be a swear word like an exclamation. Seems odd to me! His godfather often starts of sentence with basically “f*ck me…” And has apparently done so for years! It’s weird how swearing is very accepted! And that fear of the wind! Shutting door to stop the lovely draft in 40 degree Zagreb heat makes me want to swear!!

    • Sara says

      aha! My dad always says that in anger. Don’t know how it’s spelled but it’s along the lines of “Piche ti materina.” It’s the best.

      • Hethah says

        This was the first thing my grandmother taught us as young kids.

        We weren’t allowed to learn the language as my mother used it as a way to have private conversations with her mother in our presence.

        We grew up calling our grandmother STARA CRAVA which is what our mother called her. I was 15 before she told us it means OLD COW. smh.

    • Anna says

      Beware of “propuh” (again not sure of my spelling)

      My first visit to the very WARM Adriatic coast, I was desperate for a fan!

      • sanja says

        Ha, ha, ha! So true! According to Croatians propuh (light breeze) is the cause of all disesases known to them, from cold to meningitis… that includes breeze from AC as well. Most of the households actually have ACs, but they are rarely in use because of terrible propuh!

  17. Adriano Fabris says

    Interesting but “Ćaću ti jarca” (never heard for that) means “…your father goat ( fu*k is omitted, like {fuck} your father goat ).

    “that thing hurts me, and once again makes no sense. ” It have sense but you must try to think little more apstract.

    KAKO DA NE: “The literal translation is how yes no” It can be but also can be translated as “How not to” ( literal: “HOW TO NOT” ).

    Like how NOT to DO something, which makes more sense. :)

  18. says

    LOVE this piece (and the comments)! I hear “Kurva” on a near daily basis in London – usually from the mouths of Polish workmen 😛 Ahhh the international swear word!

    • Manuela says

      Kurva in Croatian means whore, bitch etc… I’m not 100% sure but I think it means pretty in Polish.. or it was a different word, can’t really remember 😀

  19. Pax says

    Regarding “boli me kurac”:
    In Croatian colloquial vocabulary, the
    word “kurac” (a vulgar word for penis) often means “nothing” or denotes
    negation, much like the word “fuck” sometimes does in English (as in “I
    don’t give a fuck”, which is as close a translation for the phrase as
    there is). Example:
    “Imaš duvan?” (“Do you have a smoke?”)
    “Imam
    kurac.” (Literally “I got dick” – incidentally, this sentence would
    function in English as well, though probably not everywhere.)
    As for
    “boli me kurac” (“my dick hurts”), it means figuratively being in no
    pain at all, the pain in question not being physical but emotional, i.
    e. not caring about something in the slightest.

    by a Dalmatian

    • aa says

      “Oću kurac” literally “i want the dick” but it means ” hell no”
      “Sudac jebem ti mater” literally “Referee id fuck your mother” it means “ref, id fuck your mother” 😀 ( mostly used at the football stadiums)

  20. Edward Reeves says

    I live in Croatia and I have to say that half of these (Živjeli, for instance) aren’t even cuss words at all.

    I can enlighten you, if you have the stomack for it.

    In short, some new (hardcore) ones:

    Kurac – d*ck
    Kurva – prostitute/hooker
    Drolja – slut
    Peder – fa.g
    Pička – c*nt
    Jebanje – To F*** someone
    Jebi se – F*-You
    Odjebi – F*-off
    Popuši mi – Suck it
    Mater ti – Your mother…
    Pičkica – same as ‘pička’, only deminutive, mostly associated with cowards
    Šupak – a$$ho!e

    And some soft(er) ones:

    Budala – stupid/fool
    Idiot – same as in English
    Mutavac – mute/with speech impedament
    Glupan / glupača – male and female term for stupid person
    Kuja – bitch (as in bad woman)
    Gad – bastard (as in bad man)

    • Pax says

      As I gather, the word “cunt” corresponds to “pizda” while “pička” corresponds to “pussy”. “Pussy” denotes a coward or a pushover while the word “cunt” is more in line with words like “jerk”, “douchebag”, “prick” or even “asshole” – in broad terms, an inconsiderate person.
      Other than that, “pička” is a derogatory word for a woman, but not based on any personality trait (like kuja) but gender alone. It may also refer to an attractive woman. Finally, of course, both “pička” and “pizda” denote an actual vagina.

      • marinko says

        Also “picka” is used for good looking woman.
        Dobra picka – good picka
        Picka ipo – picka and a half

      • Manuela says

        There are a few curses with devil in it…

        for example
        vrag te odnija – the devil took you (weird if ur not Croatian.. I know)
        vrag ti sriću odnija – the devil took your luck
        vrag te jebi – it’s usual in northen Croatia (nearby Zagreb) and it means the devil fucks you

  21. Debeli Slavonac says

    There is another one that *should* be on the list above: “Jebo sliku svoju!”. Believe or not, that one is used extensively in Croatia, and means: “(go away and) f**k a photo of yourself” 😀

  22. anon says

    “kako da ne” does not mean how yes no. The word “da” has other meanings in croatian other than “yes”. “Kako da” can be translated like “how to”

    • Debeli Slavonac says

      Nemoj me jebat :) We all used to make jokes about “kako da ne” translation to English. But you’re right – word “da” may be translated as “yes” as well as “to” (or “how to” as you said).

        • BB says

          A more ‘acceptable’ version of ‘boli me kurac’ can be ‘boli me cosak’. Literally means, the corner hutrs me…makes no sense, but actually means you don’t give a crap about something someone said – without using real profanity 😉

  23. Tea Stilinović says

    ‘boli me kurac’ you can say as ‘jebe mi se’ ..’Bog te maza’ is used as a comment to a tale similar to ‘nemoj me jebat’..hahah I’m not proud of how dirty language we have but if you hear old man doing something and makes a mistake he will for sure say ‘jeba te Bog’ wich is one of the worst swears but it is funny to hear in that situation..in Croatian you can use fuck with everything..xD and we are not morons 😉

  24. Visi Dokoljena says

    this is just the very very tip of the ice burg.. actually just a snowflake of what u touched.. the top three r very mild swears.. the bottom 4 r nothin… just everyday kind of phrases.. if ur gonna swear.. go balls out 😉

  25. Stacey says

    Great post! I love learning about different cultures and this is certainly something we all have in common isn’t it?

      • Gene says

        Thanks Hvala….A friend referred me to your site and it helps a lot
        My dad used a lot of Jeba phrases and I would love to know what he was saying even at my old age now. What would be nice is if in parenthesis you included how you pronounce the words. I know most of them but others may not. Great site Hvala Zivjeli

  26. says

    Well done you and I’m loving the language lesson x

  27. says

    Many congrats on the award, well-deserved! As a lover of languages, I have long been infatuated with swear words and colloquial expressions such as the ones you wrote above. They provide invaluable glimpses into a specific culture, and should by no means be disregarded as mere “dirty” words, as they often are by prissy language buffoons. Thanks for this fun list and good luck!

  28. AnnieMammasaurus says

    Congrats on the award my dear and it’s made me chuckle – I might save a couple of those for use on Papasaurus 😉

    • Nikolina says

      Not really! For someone who does not speak the language to start swearing is frowned upon. It shows a lack of respect. Also there are many mistakes in this post.

      – Baba means an old woman (hag), it is generally derogatory. Baka is the word.
      – Croatians do not have an ‘irrational fear’ of wind. For centuries we have known the damage hurricane force winds can do – Rip off roofs, uproot trees and sink boats.
      – Ne mogu vise: It is impolite to refuse a second helping. Therefore you should take a smaller first serving, then a second. Then you can say you are full.
      – Zivjeli. You should look the person in the eyes when you say it. Plus there are more “Croatian” words for cheers.

      Perhaps you should research a post for common, polite traditions as opposed to swear words. E.g. a man should always shake the lady’s hand before the man’s.

      This reply is not supposed to be rude, I am just trying to inform you how things are. I see many foreigners come here and leave very quickly because they cannot, or refuse, to fit in.

      regards, Nina X

      • says

        Thanks for stopping by Nikolina. To respond to you, this post was tongue in cheek, it’s not meant to be so serious. There are many ways to say lots of things in Croatian, Zivjeli is just the main one we use, and you might not know, but where we live, almost all of the Grandmothers are known as Baba, in addition to Baka. My post is not meant to be derogatory, at all. In fact if you had read more than this one post you would see that I am learning the language and doing many things to as you say ‘fit in’.
        I do like your suggestion for polite traditions, so stay tuned you may just see that written up one day. Wishing you and your family a great New Year.

        • Adriano Fabris says

          In the coastal region of Croatia (Dalmatia) word “baba” is not even derogatory as in continental part of Croatia. It’s just dalmatian word for baka.

          For example i always called my grandmother in Dalmatia “baba” and that was normal thing to do, but when i first tried to do that with my other grandmother in Zagreb she was really mad.

      • Mirela G says

        Happy New Year Nikolina!
        Welcome to the 21st Century and the beautiful diversity of Croatian Culture 😀
        I don’t find your reply rude at all but boy is it condescending??!!
        This is obviously a ‘tongue in cheek’ and light hearted piece meant to make people laugh and smile – certainly had me giggling!!! There a by no means any mistakes in the post at all!
        Kudos to Mrs CtD for such a well written and enjoyable post about the everyday stuff :)))))

      • Domagoj says

        I have to say I totally disagree with your comment and I won’t mention everything wrong that you wrote but just one: “Baba is generally derogatory”??? Are you serious??? Have you ever visited Dalmatia?
        If yes please do it again because it seems that you are one of the rare persons who got it all wrong.

        Have a nice day!
        Domagoj

      • Adriano Fabris says

        “E.g. a man should always shake the lady’s hand before the man’s.”

        That is little old fashion, no one cares for that anymore.

        “Zivjeli. You should look the person in the eyes when you say it. Plus there are more “Croatian” words for cheers.”

        Yes but that one is almost ISO standard along with “Nazdravlje”.

        All others are very rare used ( i cannot remember any other in fact ).

      • Manuela says

        In Dalmatia, especially the Velebit aria, you really won’t hear the word BAKA for grandma… My grandpa ( DIDA ) was born on Velebit and I lived in Zadar for few years, so I know what I’m talking about… BABA is and old woman, but Croatian is a tricky language… So SJ from your point of view BABA is totally fine!

  29. amerikanka says

    “tako je kako je” is handy. “That’s how it is”, or the currently popular english phrase “it is what it is”.

  30. Amadan says

    “Kako da ne” is a joke translation, AFAIK first done by Bosnian comedian group. The real translation is “How [could it be] that [it would] not [be so]”, or “How could it be otherwise”, used as “by all means” or “of course”, or in the (arguably more prevalent) sarcastic sense of “yeah, right, no way.”

  31. says

    OMG, this reminds me of Polish- the words may be different, but we also swear a lot. IN fact it is possible to say a whole long sentence using only swear words and not once repeat yourself. I liked the “Kako da ne”- in Polish we say: “Jak nie jak tak” which means “how no when yes”, meaning “you can do it”- similar but different. Thanks for sharing this list, Croatian seems like a cute language!

    • Alex says

      Mrs…thank you for bringing fraction of our huge swearing dictionary. But this is way too short list about swearing in Croatia (especially in Dalmatia). It has to bee your husband is very nice and don’t swear at all :)

      At my first clue…there is lot of dropped expressions like :
      “napuši se kurca”, “jeben te blesava”, “pička ti materina”, “jebala ti sebe”, “jebala ti sliku svoju”, “nabijem te na kiticu cvijeća (kurac)”, ” ‘ko te jebe moj tetrijebe”, “pušiona”, “pričaš pizdarije”, “sviraš kurcu”, and much…muuucccchhh more….