Learn Croatian Swear Words: Swear Like a Croatian Guide (Part I)

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Warning: Content May Offend

Swearing in Croatian.

I wrote a piece for an expat blogging writing competition about Croatian swear words back in 2014; well, Croatian phrases, actually. I had some great feedback from it (& it even won a gold medal), so I thought I’d share it with you all.

It seems that (most) Dalmatians love to shorten words, sing, and, as I have come to learn: swear, and swear a lot! Below are 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 general everyday phrases, we have a learn Croatian guide and language tips 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.


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 tells a tale that seems too incredible to believe, you’ll hear the other person say nemoj me jebat. To keep this PG, it’s essential 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 you’d want to say, “are you serious?” in English. But it translates to do not f*ck with me. You get the idea. If not, reach out to me, and I’ll explain.

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Čaću ti jarca

learning croatian flag

Do you have stubborn kids? You may want to keep this one handy, as it’s primarily 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 not to say some of these phrases but rather know what they mean when you hear them, which 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 furthermore, 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 happening around you. However, the literal translation makes zero sense to that use at all. It means that you have pain in your nether regions of the manly kind. As 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 which translates to, that thing hurts me, and once again, makes no sense. However, it’s used for saying, I don’t give a damn.

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.


learning croatian Katastropha
I had to be sure I heard it right…

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 friends’ 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. DDon’tpanic. IIt’snot 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 retold that they just sold the last Krafna of the day – katastrofa!

Ne mogu više, hvala 

If you plan to visit your Croatian family and friends here in Croatia for a meal, it’s wise to ensure that you do not eat a big meal leading up to your visit. Your Croatian friends and family will throw food at your left, right, and center- especially the older ones. The same goes for drinks. You’ll have to try all of the season’s finest offerings no matter how much you say you’re 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 the button on your pants won’t be enough and that you may actually explode. At this point, you can reach for the phrase Ne mogu više, hvala! Which means you can’t take anymore. Do not overuse this phrase or use it after only one slice of cake and a rakija, as they may not believe you.


This is an essential phrase if you plan to share a drink with a local. Before you take the first sip of your local wine or the heart-stopping Croatian brandy known as rakija, you’ll need to shout ŽIVJELI!!! Which is Croatian for cheers! The pounding of the glass also accompanies it 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 – be careful who you tell them to!


We’ve got a stack of suggestions if you are traveling to Croatia. Here are just a few:

Learn Croatian Online

We’ve been taking weekly Croatian language Skype lessons for some time now with our teacher, who provides excellent service. She is currently taking on new students, so if you’re interested in learning or improving your Croatian, now is the time.

Learning Croatian one-on-one with a language teacher via Skype. You can learn at your own pace, you have the flexibility of taking the lessons in the comfort of your own home, and you have your very own teacher to help you along the way.

Click Here To Learn Croatian Online

Comments (157)

  1. 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!

    1. 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….

  2. “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.”

    1. Thanks for sharing that Amadan and for also stopping by, hope to see you back here again soon. Have a great weekend.

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

  4. Loved this post, hilarious! There are quite a few brilliant Bavarian phrases, I just wish I could understand more! :D PS. Congrats on the win! :)

    1. 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

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

      2. Happy New Year Nikolina!
        Welcome to the 21st Century and the beautiful diversity of Croatian Culture :D
        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 :)))))

        1. How did I miss this? Thanks Mirela for kindly standing up for me. I am so very glad that you liked it.

      3. 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!

      4. “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 ).

      5. 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!

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

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