Curse strength

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by airelibre, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    Sorry in advance for a possibly vulgar thread.
    How 'bad' are the following swearwords in Hebrew? Ie. which would most people avoid using in public/with strangers/ in front of children, which are used before/after the "watershed" etc.
    From my experience, שיט is less stigmatised than it is in English, while חרא is avoided around kids.
    Some I have heard used:

    and any others?
  2. Stifled Member

    Well, different kids would hear different words, as different kids have different parents. If you ask me, they are all completely redundant and should not be mentioned
    around children or people. It's not that I'm a prude, I just can't see the point. As for your query:

    שיט and פאק are taken from English (as you know) and due to this reason are not so vulgar nor do they grate on a native's Hebrew speaker ears. (the
    way I see it of course.)

    לעזאזל is obsolete. Nevertheless, some people may use it (mostly elderly) making themselves sound rather crude and indignant.

    Both לזיין ו חרא are very vulgar and should be avoided.

    בן זונה; לך תזדיין; כוס עמק are very hrash and vulgar and unfortunately, very much ingrained in the vocabulary.
  3. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    (Nitpick: etymologically correct spelling is אמכ)
  4. Stifled Member

    I don't believe in correct spelling for this word. :cool:
  5. C_J Member

    There seems to be a commonly followed, unwritten rule in Hebrew: "If it's not Hebrew, then it doesn't count as a profanity".
    I really find this mind-boggling. Even people that know what a particular foreign profanity means, and will never use it when speaking that foreign language, will use it while speaking Hebrew as if they are unaware of its harshness...
    So the traditional expletives like "oy/oy-vey" are interchangeable with "f*ck/sh*t/كس أمك/к ебине матери" (yes, even if the speaker is a native speaker of one of these languages). Even teachers/doctors/members of knesset follow this usage on ocasion.

    Using the Hebrew translation/alternatives, is mostly much more offensive or unusual (somewhat like using "excrements!/fornication!" in English...).

    Biblical/talmudical words are not classified as profane, but their offensiveness varies.

    Words that are derived from זין are more common, since it can be "hidden" in puns; just a few days ago a member of knesset referred to the others as פוליטיקאים סוג ז'". In this case, she made a pun on "סוג א'/סוג ב' (first class/second class) and "seventh/pr*ck class". "לשים זין" is also often used as if it wasn't profane at all (as if the speaker refers to "the letter" or to "the weapon").
  6. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    Thanks for the help thus far. Is there a code of which words can be used on tv (maybe set by the iba) and is there an equivalent of the watershed - which words can be used before and after?
  7. hadronic Senior Member

    New York
    French - France
    And do you have "euphemical" curses like shoot for shit, etc... ?
    In French we sometimes say mercredi for merde (shit), puree / punaise for putain (whore, used like "f*ck!"), etc...
  8. ystab Senior Member

    As a matter of fact, we do. Some say בן יונה (son of a pigeon) for בן זונה (son of a bitch).

    The funny thing is that there's a theory saying that זין started as a euphemism for זרג (as זי"ן is the word's first letter), and today it sounds less vulgar than זין.
  9. Tararam Senior Member

    בן זו....רחת השמש
    Son of a b...right is the sun.
  10. C_J Member

    Erm... I guess that the code is, not to use any words that are not literary? I think it's generally as you'd expect from American TV.
    As for the watershed, it's statutory, but the statute is a bit complex.
    It doesn't set hours at which "inappropriate" programmes are allowed to be broadcast, but it does require all programmes to show their rating. "Inappropriate" adverts are not to be broadcast during/close to "for 12 and under" programmes, and not during 14:30-21:00 on weekdays and 06:00-21:00 on Saturdays and holidays. More details here:

    Interesting, I always thought that זין acquired this meaning because it's original meaning is "sword/weapon/arms". מזויין is still used here and there for "armed" or as in "reinforced concrete" בטון מזויין. Oh, and there's that infamous Jeremaiah 5:8 which causes some controversy.
    Another biblical euphemism that I remember is in Isaiah 36:12, where the masora "censored" "צואתם" with "חראיהם"... And nowadays "צואה" is the euphemism...
  11. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    What do you mean by 'literary'? Also, I swear I've heard English swearwords such as שיט said on daytime tv and around children (also by children), so clearly swearwords further from the hearts of Israelis are permissible.
    Btw, is there an equivalent term for watershed? Would it just be a borrowed concept and hence a borrowed word from English?

    I also thought זין was a euphemism from the word meaning 'weapon', which eventually lost its value as a euphemism and became offensive. The theory about זרג could also be plausible. Who knows which is the correct theory? Maybe a bit of both.
  12. C_J Member

    By literary I mean language that is not considered slang (but then again slang is often tolerated/accepted), the type of language that one would use in writing.
    Yes, as I said above; there is that "if it's not Hebrew - it's not profane" phenomenon, so you could hear English curses all day long and some in very inappropriate settings. Also, English programmes and music are never censored, so even kindergarden children listen (and later say/sing) some very inappropriate things such as "Cause I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me".
    I don't think that there is a term for "watershed" or that ever was one. Censorship is not legally inforced in Israel (except pornography) as far as I know, though content rating is. So basically, children are often exposed to adult content in all forms of media (many parents are not aware/don't really care). There's also a lot of what maybe called "pushing the envelope" in other countries, especially in live/reality TV (which are exempt from rating).

    In Jeremaiah 5:8 there is an instance of בָּנַיִךְ עֲזָבוּנִי, וַיִּשָּׁבְעוּ בְּלֹא אֱלֹהִים; וָאַשְׂבִּעַ אוֹתָם וַיִּנְאָפוּ, וּבֵית זוֹנָה יִתְגּוֹדָדוּ. סוּסִים מְיֻזָּנִים, מַשְׁכִּים הָיוּ; אִישׁ אֶל-אֵשֶׁת רֵעֵהוּ, יִצְהָלוּ.
    Traditionally that word was explained as a derivative of ז.ו.נ (food/feed), so the New International Version renders it as "Your children have forsaken me and sworn by gods that are not gods. I supplied all their needs, yet they committed adultery and thronged to the houses of prostitutes. They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man’s wife."
    Some people see here a reference to their "male bits" which were "like a stallion's" as it is seen in Ezekiel 23:20 "וַתַּעְגְּבָה, עַל פִּלַגְשֵׁיהֶם, אֲשֶׁר בְּשַׂר-חֲמוֹרִים בְּשָׂרָם, וְזִרְמַת סוּסִים זִרְמָתָם", NIV: "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses."
  13. David S Senior Member

    Richmond, VA, USA
    English - US
    How is חרא used? Is it used like "shit" in English or does it have other meanings? For example, can you call somebody or something a חרא, or is it used to make something sound offensive, like "putain de ..." in French or "fucking ..." in English.
  14. ystab Senior Member

    It is used to call someone a disgusting person, like a douche bag I suppose.
    It is also used to indicate something of low quality, like shitty or lousy - חרא של מכונית, חרא של סרט.
    It can also be used as a general curse word, like when something fails to work, like shit, merde, scheisse, etc., but less commonly used in that way.
  15. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    I've also heard it used as an equivalent of '...and shit', meaning 'and stuff/other things'.
    וכל החרא הזה
  16. C_J Member

    I noticed that the "geographical" meaning of "watershed" - קו פרשת המים is also used in Hebrew figuratively for "a big change", but I'm still not sure if this is also used with regard to TV as in Britain.
  17. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    Maybe it had other connotations at one time, but in the present day, watershed only refers to the period after 9pm during which adult-orientated television can be shown on mainstream tv. Personally I don't exactly know what a watershed referred to to begin with, other than something to do with water level.

Share This Page