NOTE: This article is not an endorsement by Live Lingua for swearing. But it is a critical part of communicating in any language, so you might as well learn them now. Here is how to curse in Chinese.

How to curse in Chinese

We won’t beat around the bush here. The verbal expression of frustrations is often the only available way to blow off steam that is actually satisfactory. Even if done quietly under the breath, getting an opinion about a situation, a place, or perhaps a pesky boss off your chest just feels so damn good.

Let’s take a look at a sample situation here: you’ve just stepped out of a particularly upsetting meeting at work. A quiet expression isn’t going to cut it. You need full-voiced angst to emanate from your being with the force of a thousand suns. But you’re at work and don’t necessarily feel like alienating yourself and being labeled a moody asshole. Or worse, losing your job entirely.

So you head outside onto the street out front. A moment of fresh air, a chance to unwind before heading back to your desk. And, a chance to yell like hell without the boss catching wind. Still, someone might hear. A coworker could head out for lunch and open the door at any moment, spoiling your random vestige of anger and turning your face red with embarrassment instead of rage.

What to do? The answer is simple: swear in Chinese. No one will understand you! For full effect, pull the cell phone out of your pocket and swear into it – that way, any observers will think you’re deadlocked in a passionate business discussion with a foreign client.

Or, perhaps you’re how to learn how to swear in Chinese for an upcoming trip or a real-life interaction in Chinese, one that’s actually happening instead of a fake cover up. Either way, deciding to learn a few Chinese terms, even if they are just the curse words, is an admirable goal. There’s a strong chance no one will understand you should you give in to the impulse to swear at a friend, or a bit of road rage take hold.

Regardless of the language, learning any type of vocabulary in a foreign language, especially one that is so different from your own, can seem an extremely daunting task. However, if you take it slow and follow a step-by-step process you should be able to acquire enough basic Chinese curse words to have fun, say what’s on your mind and still keep from offending anyone (unless they know Chinese.)

Getting Started

Most linguists agree that you only need a vocabulary of about 120 basic words to “get by” in any language, and if you look at it from this perspective then learning a few Chinese curse words is probably a very manageable goal, especially if you use the following tips to help you acquire the vocabulary you need.

Start your search online.

If you are unfamiliar with the language, you can start your search for Chinese curse words online. Use websites like Google Translate or You Swear to find the Chinese curse words you want. One of the benefits to using Google Translate is that you can listen and repeat the word by clicking on the small speaker icon in the translation box. A few simple cuss words might be:

Basic Chinese Swear Words

Fuck (as in an insult) cào 肏/操
Fuck your ancestors to an innumerable generation cào nǐ zǔzōng shíbā dài 肏你祖宗十八代
goddamn it tā māde niǎo 他妈的鸟
shut the fuck up qù nǐde 去你的
fuck your mom cào nǐ mā 肏你妈
damn on your second uncle nǐ èr dàyé de 你二大爷的
son of a bitch wángbādàn 忘/王八蛋

Note: as in any other country culture influences the efficacy of a curse word. For example, in China, ancestor worship is sacred. So many curse words involve the insulting of ancestors as this offers the most confrontation.

Add visual elements

Conducting a search for Chinese curse words on YouTube will also get you several video results for both pronunciation and written forms of bad Chinese words. By viewing and reviewing the words you are more likely to remember them. Here is a great (and quite hilarious) video on how to curse in Chinese:

Use cue cards

Cue cards are a great technique to use for general language learning. Add swear words, and the process gets that much more enjoyable. Adding visual cues to the bad Chinese words can help you learn them faster. Use white flash cards to memorize your vocabulary words.

Write one new word or phrase on one side of an index card. Place the English translation of the Chinese curse word on the back of the card where you can’t easily see it. Underneath the Chinese word draw a picture that represents the term. This doesn’t have to be a master drawing; a stick figure representation will do. When you finish, you should have between 10 to 20 visual flash cards with the Chinese words you want to learn.

This is also an effective way to learn how to swear in Chinese with a friend so that the both of you can swear back and forth at each other.

How often do Chinese people use these terms?

The Chinese swear just as often as everybody else. The culture of swearing in China and among Chinese is comparable to that of other nationalities regarding any offense that may be taken, appropriate use, etc. What you’ll find if you begin swearing a lot in Chinese is that anyone who understands you won’t be shy about swearing right back – so when you’re out front of the office going on your tirade, don’t be too surprised if someone across the street joins in on the fun.

Are the Chinese easily offended by swearing?

Not any more so than Americans, Canadians, or Europeans. As we noted above, Chinese people swear just like everyone else!

Putting It All Together

During your Chinese swear word study time, go over each phrase or word, repeating it out loud. If you don’t remember what the vocabulary means look on the back of your cue card to see the English translation. Review the pronunciation by watching the YouTube video, clicking on the pronunciation in Google Translate or listening to your digital recorder. After a few repetitions, while looking through the cards, you’ll remember the vocabulary through both the audio and visual associations. Continue repeating the vocabulary out loud until you memorize it.

As is the case with any language learning journey, repetition is key to success. Use your key cards, practice with a friend, or better yet – do some Skyping with a fluent Chinese speaker. You two can swear at each other like one of you just punched the other’s son square in the face. Bet you never thought learning a new language could be so much fun!

The moral of the story is to just do it. Learn the words. Use the words. Then, expand your Chinese vocabulary to cover basic daily interactions and conversations. Practice every day and we promise – you’ll see some fucking results.

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