Discussion: [VG, expr.] Euphemisms / les Euphémismes -- "Swearing politely" in English and French

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geve

Senior Member
France, French
I am looking for safe substitutes, words that you could use to express annoyance, surprise, disbelief... in the kind of situations where you could have let slip a swear word if you weren't the civilized forer@ we all know :rolleyes:
And more importantly, words that you could use in front of almost any kind of people: your grandmother (not deaf), your boss, or even your priest (ok, maybe not your priest)

I'll give a few examples in French as a start:
- I think mince, flûte and zut are safe substitutes for the French 5-letters-word to express annoyance
- Fichtre and diantre sound a bit outdated but are safe options to express disbelief or surprise (and my avatar would say "Mille pompons" in such a situation :p )
- And I'm pretty sure that nowadays no one would get offended by "Bonté divine !" (my fellow natives will kindly correct me if they do feel offended) But it sounds outdated too, I'm afraid.

As for the English, I believe "Good heavens!" is pretty much like "Bonté divine" ?
I was happy to find the word shucks in that thread, but I'm not sure how it sounds to a native ear exactly...
And I wonder if damn is on the safe side ?

Do you have any suggestions that might help us be polite in both languages, even when we feel the urge to swear?


(If there was a previous thread about this, I'm sorry I didn't find it...)
 
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  • Tatzingo

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Hi!

    I think that the euphemism that we use to substitute a swear word depends on the actual swear word itself.

    Eg. For the word Shit, you can any of the following; Sugar, shucks (to me it sounds a bit outdated), shoot, or we use the german word for SH** but that really doesn't make it any more polite.

    Tatz.

    Ps. I'm far too polite to think of any other words ;-)
     
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    paulvial

    Senior Member
    en français : mer....credi (stopping in time to avoid saying "merde" )


    english : blast ! (i think is acceptable , at least heard it often in good company !)
    all the others that come to mind are not that safe really , sorry
     

    DearPrudence

    Dépêche Mod (AL mod)
    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    Blimey! (to express surprise? = mince alors!)
    I hear that a lot, is it 'polite' enough?
    I also hear 'crikey' a lot, though I've never been quite sure what it means :rolleyes: :eek: (a good opportunity to know exactly what it means :D )
    As for 'damn', I also wonder if it's on the safe side...

    edit to Paul: quelle transmission de pensée! :D
     

    Lezert

    Senior Member
    french, France
    Bon sang
    Bon dieu
    Nom d'une pipe (en bois) ! (un peu désuet)
    Saperlipopette (désuet)
    Diantre (désuet, mais s'utilise par dérision)

    voir aussi le capitaine Haddock dans Tinin et Milou, c'est une mine...
     

    DearPrudence

    Dépêche Mod (AL mod)
    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    Ce qui me fait penser: (enfantin): "crotte de bique (et bonbon noir)" :D (I wonder how you could translate that as well)
     

    paulvial

    Senior Member
    […]
    nom de dieu !
    bien que certains puissent être offensés quand on invoque le nom du tout puissant en vain !!!
     
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    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Eh bien, il y a donc plein de façons d'être polis tout en jurant ! :thumbsup:

    En effet j'avais déjà entendu shoot. Blimey et son origine sont commentés dans ce fil. Et j'aimerais bien moi aussi savoir ce que veut dire crickey, ou plutôt dans quel contexte c'est utilisé...

    DP, je ne connaissais pas la partie (et bonbon noir) ! Mais je me demande quand même : est-ce qu'on pourrait vraiment dire "crotte de bique" devant sa grand-mère ? :rolleyes:
     

    DearPrudence

    Dépêche Mod (AL mod)
    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    geve said:
    DP, je ne connaissais pas la partie (et bonbon noir) ! Mais je me demande quand même : est-ce qu'on pourrait vraiment dire "crotte de bique" devant sa grand-mère ? :rolleyes:
    Bon sang de bon soir, j'en sais rien, moi!
    Je pense qu'on peut dire "crotte de bique" devant sa grand-mère (qui serait bien une adepte de ce vocable que cela ne m'étonnerait pas) quand on a 8 ans. Après, quand on a plus de 15 ans, ça n'est pas impoli, ça fait simplement retardé. :) :D (ou très fantomettesque (?))

    Donc c'est bien ce que je pensais, "blimey" et "crikey" (traduction: "ça alors/mince alors"?) sont plutôt gentils et expriment la surprise (d'un autre côté, j'ai dit à quelqu'un que je passais mes vacances dans le Devon et il m'a répondu "crikey" aussi. Mais bon, c'est peut-être un tic de langage).
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Il a peut-être été surpris par l'exotisme de ton choix de destination ?

    Je pirate ce fil pour importer blast : on the safe side, too?


    Edit: "blast" avait déjà été signalé par Paul au post #3. Il faut vraiment que je change de lunettes :rolleyes:
     

    germinal

    Senior Member
    England English
    Tresley said:
    Oh Heck! Oh Flip! Oh blimey! Oh crickey! Oh sugar (au lieu de 'Oh Sh*t !) = Oh Damn! (Oh Zut!) All are safe to say without offence.
    CRIKEY! (for the mods - it's an exclamation so I'm allowed to shout it)

    I think this is another of those words which the user changes just in time - to avoid saying CHRIST!

    .
     

    DearPrudence

    Dépêche Mod (AL mod)
    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    Just coming to my mind: have we said 'gosh'? Is it still used? Doesn't it sound a bit too old-fashioned?
     

    anangelaway

    Senior Member
    French
    germinal said:
    `Blooming` is still quite common as an even milder substitute for `bloody` - a corruption of `By our Lady` (The virgin Mary).
    Oui voilà, moi j'utilise celui-ci en anglais avec 'me' à la place de 'hell' ou alors à toutes les sauces. Je crois que c'est d'ailleurs le seul avec damn. J'ai jamais vraiment eu l'impression que c'était extrêmement impoli. Mais je ne le dirais pas forcément à mon boss ou au maire...
    A friend of mine used to say natt off (not sure of the spelling - I think that's the one) quite often: is that rude? I'm not even sure what it means anymore. :eek:
    Intéressant ce fil, Gevoune! :thumbsup: :)
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    germinal said:
    `Blooming` is still quite common as an even milder substitute for `bloody` - a corruption of `By our Lady` (The virgin Mary).
    But how rude is "bloody" if it's already a substitute?
    I used to think like the angel, that "bloody" was quite safe, but something I read somewhere (don't remember where) made me wonder... Should I start saying "blooming" instead? "Blooming hell", "blooming me"? :D

    Tresley said:
    Oh Heck! Oh Flip! Oh blimey! Oh crickey! Oh sugar (au lieu de 'Oh Sh*t !) = Oh Damn! (Oh Zut!) All are safe to say without offence.
    Good list (again!) :thumbsup: Is the "oh" compulsory? ;)
     

    germinal

    Senior Member
    England English
    anangelaway said:
    Oui voilà, moi j'utilise celui-ci en anglais avec 'me' à la place de 'hell' ou alors à toutes les sauces. Je crois que c'est d'ailleurs le seul avec damn. J'ai jamais vraiment eu l'impression que c'était extrêmement impoli. Mais je ne le dirais pas forcément à mon boss ou au maire...
    A friend of mine used to say natt off (not sure of the spelling - I think that's the one) quite often: is that rude? I'm not even sure what it means anymore. :eek:
    Intéressant ce fil, Gevoune! :thumbsup: :)
    It's `Naff Off`and it can be quite offensive if said in an agressive manner. `Naff` on its own simply means poor quality, not up to standard, silly, stupid (remark) etc. I have no idea why it has been coupled with `off` in this way.:)

    .
     

    germinal

    Senior Member
    England English
    geve said:
    But how rude is "bloody" if it's already a substitute?
    I used to think like the angel, that "bloody" was quite safe, but something I read somewhere (don't remember where) made me wonder... Should I start saying "blooming" instead? "Blooming hell", "blooming me"? :D


    Good list (again!) :thumbsup: Is the "oh" compulsory? ;)
    No! Blooming hell! sounds a bit naff. :D

    Bloody can be a little strong in some prissy circles whereas blooming is very safe.
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    germinal said:
    No! Blooming hell! sounds a bit naff. :D

    Bloody can be a little strong in some prissy circles whereas blooming is very safe.
    Good to know... Can give us a sentence with "blooming", to show us how to use it?
     

    Tresley

    Senior Member
    British English
    geve said:
    Is the "oh" compulsory? ;)
    No, the 'oh!' isn't compulsory in front of any of the words I listed. People often say 'oh!' whilst thinking of an apt expression to say
    that will be suitable for the company they are with.

    I think Germinal was objecting to the way I spelt 'Crickey'. I have seen it spelt both with and without the 'c' in the middle. As far as I know, both 'crickey' and 'crikey' are acceptable spellings. It's not listed in any of the dictionaries I have, it's just something that we say. A search on Google reveals many entries for both spellings, but the spelling without the 'c' in the middle is most popular on Google.
     

    calembourde

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    Damn could offend some people as it has religious undertones, people often say 'darn' instead.

    I say 'gosh', even though it does sound a bit old-fashioned, in a cute sort of way (I hope.) Another one which is basically the same as gosh is 'golly' or even 'golly gosh.' Both are substitutes for 'God' I suppose.

    I never realised that 'bloody' came from 'by our lady'. I think it's more offensive than some of the others mentioned here, but 'blooming' sounds very old-fashioned.

    I think Crikey is Australian for Blimey (which seems British to me.) At least, often when I say it to an American they mention Steve Irwin. :D As DearPrudence says, they are more expressions of surprise than annoyance. They do appear in 'phrases' as well... 'by crikey' and 'cor blimey' which mean the same thing as crikey and blimey, as far as I know.

    Aha, according to this site, 'cor blimey' comes from 'God blind me'.

    About the worst swear word I use is 'crap' which I consider to be acceptable because it is used on The Simpsons. :D

    Also, there's 'sheesh!' which I suppose comes from 'Jesus'. And strewth, which is perhaps more Australian. Aha... I just searched for strewth and found this list of synonyms for it, including crumbs (only for annoyance, not surprise), goodness, holy cow/smoke, gracious, my word, Gordon Bennett (all of these are more for surprise than annoyance, I'd say), and a few others we haven't mentioned yet.

    I'm on a roll here... my nieces say 'holy moley' as an expression of surprise. And, Robin (Batman's sidekick) used to say all sorts of funny things after 'holy', like 'holy fruit salad!'. I use that one sometimes just for fun. :D
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Indeed, "crikey" wins over "crickey" 20:1 on a google fight

    Found on wiktionary:
    crikey!
    1. Used euphemistically for Christ as a mild expression of surprise, especially in Australia, and often in Britain.
    2. Used as an exclamation, or as an emphasis of fact at the conclusion of a statement.
    It's a hot day today, by crikey!
    3. Often used with Moses, similar to crikey on its own, especially in Australia.
    Crikey moses!
    Calembourde, thanks! I feel more confident now to face everyday life, with all these useful and funny swearing tools! :thumbsup:

    An interesting man, this Gordon Bennett. :D
     

    Tresley

    Senior Member
    British English
    geve said:
    Can give us a sentence with "blooming", to show us how to use it?
    We might say:

    'Oh blooming heck! My computer's crashed again!'

    Or

    'This blooming computer keeps crashing! What's wrong with it"?

    Or

    'The blooming day my computer stops crashing, I'll be happy'

    Hope this helps you to understand.
     

    calembourde

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    I just thought of 'flip!' as a substitute for the other four-letter F word ('flippin' is the adjective form.)

    So now we need more French terms. There is the obsolete sacré bleu, and apparently 'sacré' can be used in other ways too, according to this thread. I have read 'nom d'un chien!' in a novel, which I assume is a substitution for 'nom de dieu.' How polite is that?
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Nom d'un chien ! is very safe. So is nom d'un petit bonhomme ! which I find especially cute, along with nom d'une pipe ! that Lezert posted in post #6 (they all sound a bit outdated though).
    All these "nom de..." must be euphemisms for "nom de dieu" I guess :confused:

    I can't think of other words than the ones already listed... for the moment.
    But you'll find some nice old jurons in these lyrics (Merci à Jean-Michel !) - I'll add bigre to the list, which can still be heard for surprise/disbelief.
    Note also that you can combine flûte and zut, and say flûte de zut!
     

    Cath.S.

    Senior Member
    français de France
    Un petit favori personnel : nom de nom !
    À propos de nom d'un chien, déjà les Grecs juraient par le chien ! Ce pourrait être celui des Enfers, Cerbère.
     

    Amityville

    Senior Member
    English UK
    What the blazes do you think you're doing ? Put those blasted knitting needles down.
    A quotation deeply embedded in my long-term memory, courtesy of a religious teacher.
     

    calembourde

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    The funny thing about nom d'un chien is that in a way it would make more sense in English. There's a joke that an insomniac agnostic dyslexic is somebody who stays awake at night wondering if there really is a dog.
     

    JerseyRich

    Senior Member
    geve said:
    As for the English, I believe "Good heavens!" is pretty much like "Bonté divine" ?
    I was happy to find the word shucks in that thread, but I'm not sure how it sounds to a native ear exactly...

    Shucks always sounds like something that an American farmer would say(sorry don't mean to offend if there are any Americans in this morning)
     
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    calembourde

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    I would say 'shucks' not as an expression of annoyance and belief, but more embarrassed modesty after a compliment... e.g.

    calembourde, you're my favourite forero!
    calembourde: Aw, shucks :eek:

    There's a definition here, with an example of it being used as an adjective to describe the grin that somebody might have when saying it.
     

    Achleskine

    Member
    English -UK
    germinal said:
    It's `Naff Off`and it can be quite offensive if said in an agressive manner. `Naff` on its own simply means poor quality, not up to standard, silly, stupid (remark) etc. I have no idea why it has been coupled with `off` in this way.:)

    .
    Beware! Naff on its own just means "useless" BUT Naff-off is Offensive! though in these sad times all too often used. It is used as a substitute for F-off. Not to be used for anyone you should respect. Blimey/Blooming much used instead of Bloody - though blimey has its roots in "G'd blind me" now with the passage of time forgotten. Crikey is sub for Ch'st and is a bit passe- probably still OK at the cricket club/old school tie set
     

    Achleskine

    Member
    English -UK
    geve said:
    Good to know... Can give us a sentence with "blooming", to show us how to use it?
    I am blooming well fed up with blooming going out to clear up next door's cat's mess off the the blooming lawn
     

    KittyCatty

    Senior Member
    English UK
    what about "flippin 'ec"!! or "for goodness sake"! this can express exasperation and annoyance.
    are we going to move on to people? because my auntie is fond of using the word 'wombat' for a silly person. you can also say 'silly old fool' for those old drivers that pull out without looking - that always makes me laugh though. twit isn't strong. prat is a bit stronger but not really offensive.
     

    calembourde

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    To me, twit has connotations of stupidity while prat is more somebody who is annoying (an arsehole, basically).

    There's also ninny which is the same as twit
     

    KittyCatty

    Senior Member
    English UK
    yes that's true, calembourde. but i wouldn't recommend arsehole as a polite insult! oh there's also moron, loser, and a new favourite is wang (!) which adults hate because it is mainly used by teenagers. it's a very stupid word but a good euphemism for that word rhyming with banker!!!
     

    marget

    Senior Member
    DearPrudence said:
    Just coming to my mind: have we said 'gosh'? Is it still used? Doesn't it sound a bit too old-fashioned?
    I'm not sure that gosh is very old-fashioned. I hear it and use it. In American English, we use "darn" to avoid damn. Damn might raise some eyebrows. We also say Oh crap, instead of oh sh**.
    And we say "freakin'".
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Thank you all for so many suggestions and explanations in English! :thumbsup:
    It's funny to have names of people included in exclamations as such. I don't think we do that at all in French... or do we? :confused:

    To add a bit to the French part:
    Lezert has mentioned scrogneugneu in post #9, I'd like to add rontudjû for those who have read Gaston Lagaffe (it might be the transcript of "nom de dieu" pronounced by someone very angry)
    And I don't think bon sang de bonsoir ! has been mentioned yet?
    Purée and punaise are safe substistutes to the other word starting with "pu"

    And LRV, some people could say "Jésus Marie Joseph", or "Sainte Mère de Dieu" in French too - but it's a bit outdated too, and is on the blasphemy side also, hence to be handled with care!

    I'm also offering Agnès' gargl here :p ...But Agnès, do you say it, or just write it?

    And to emphasize on the mince, flûte, zut etc., note that you can also add "ben" before, or "alors" after, and get a stronger exclamation
    Ben mince, flûte alors, ben zut alors...
     

    petereid

    Senior Member
    english
    germinal said:
    It's `Naff Off`and it can be quite offensive if said in an agressive manner. `Naff` on its own simply means poor quality, not up to standard, silly, stupid (remark) etc. I have no idea why it has been coupled with `off` in this way.:)

    .
    It came in with "Porridge" a telvision comedy show set in a prison. "Naff-off" etc avoided using foul language during early evening broadcasting.
     

    Cath.S.

    Senior Member
    français de France
    Achleskine said:
    I am blooming well fed up with blooming going out to clear up next door's cat's mess off the the blooming lawn
    Cor blimey! :D
    I never knew that Park Conor with a blooming lawn was a lovely painting by Van Gogh.
    Enjoy! <= this time, it works.
     

    MarcB

    Senior Member
    US English
    W.C. Fields an American comedian from the 1930s. " Mother..... of pearl, Beelzebub( a demon)"
     

    cracka

    New Member
    English, UK
    If i make a mistake, I would say "man!" or "oh man!"

    But not sure how common thats used!

    Also hear fricking and freaking and frigging, all replacements for F**k.
     

    Oberlin37

    Member
    English, USA
    I wasn't really paying attention to nationalities until I read this list, but then I realized how many of these expressions are British. I mean here in the colonies ;) "damn" is still a "bad" word. It's not good to say around children, etc. Crap is a great one! That's for annoyance. Darn, crud, shittake mushrooms (to stup from saying SH**), aw man also works! A great yiddish expression for annoyance and fatigue is "Oi Vai" [pronounced o-ee vay].
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    marget said:
    I wonder if that's the equivalent of "aargh" in English? (I'm not sure of the spelling:confused: )
    I would say so... It expresses that you are angry with yourself because you've done or said something silly.

    I think I've heard "bite me!" before - or did I invent this?
    And I wonder how the phrase "Stick a fork in me, I'm done" is used exactly?
     

    rsweet

    Senior Member
    English, North America
    Oberlin37 said:
    Crap is a great one! That's for annoyance. Darn, crud, shittake mushrooms (to stup from saying SH**), aw man also works!
    While crap is not nearly as vulgar as sh**, it's still pretty rough sounding for some company. Once when I was a teenager, I said crap in front of my 3-year-old stepbrother, who shouted, "Ronni said the "k" word!"
     
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