foutre - niveau de langue

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Starcreator, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. Starcreator Senior Member

    Canada, English, French
    Canada, English
    Is it exceptionally rude to use the verb "foutre"? It's English equivalent, "fuck" is very inappropriate and its use portrays a very undistinguished, uneducated manner of speaking.

    If I say "Qu'est-ce que tu fous", is it appropriate around children? How about "fiches"? Is "fous le camp" as harsh as the English "fuck off"? Is "va te faire foutre" as bad as...well, you all get it. Generally, is "foutre" as serious and obscene as the English verb "to fuck"?

    I choose not to use this verb in English due to its characteristic obscenity and was wondering whether my choice should extend to my French.


  2. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    Hi Star. :)

    Foutre is definitely very vulgar, not obscene, just plain vulgar. I personally avoid it, it sounds really common and agressive.

    Va te faire foutre definitely means fuck off, although most of the time foutre can't be translated to fuck. Etymologically, both words mean the same, event though no one uses foutre in a sexual sense in this day and age.

    I'm sure we had a couple of threads where we discussed that word.
    Yes, here you go:

    fuck off
    va te faire foutre
  3. Starcreator Senior Member

    Canada, English, French
    Canada, English
    Merci, egeule - cela m'aide. Merci de m'en avoir renseigner :)
  4. beri Senior Member

    "foutre" is "Qu'est-ce que tu fous?" is not as rude as in "va te faire foutre", though :)
    "Qu'est-ce que tu fous?" is really frequent colloquial language.
  5. DDT

    DDT Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Italy - Italian
    But not that refined... ;)

  6. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    "Je m'en fous" and "Je m'en fiche" aren't that vulgar, at least from my experience.
  7. as Beri said, it is note vulgar, it is colloquial
    you will never write it
  8. Jean-Michel Carrère Senior Member

    French from France
    A sample of uses of the verb to give you an idea of how rude or not so rude foutre can be :

    ( foutre = faire )
    qu'est-ce qu'il fout ? : what the hell is he doing ? / what the shit is he doing ?

    je n'en ai rien à foutre / je m'en fous / je m'en fous comme de l'an 40 : I don't care / I don't give a damn /

    qui a qqch à foutre de … ? : who gives a shit about … ?
    qu'est-ce qu'on en a à foutre ? : who cares ? /
    qu'est-ce qu'on en a à foutre de son opinion ? : who gives a monkey's what he thinks ?

    (foutre = mettre / jeter )
    foutre qqch dans qqch : shove sth into sth

    ( foutre = ... )
    qu'il aille se faire foutre ! : fuck him !
    va te faire foutre ! / allez vous faire foutre ! : fuck off ! / sod off ! / get stuffed !

    extra miscellaneous phrases :

    foutre le camp : scram

    foutre en l'air : ( jeter ) throw away
    ( gâcher : vie / projets ) fuck up / screw up
    foutre la vie de qq en l'air : screw up sb's life
    ( ne pas exploiter : opportunité ) blow
    ( faire échouer : projets ) play the devil with

    foutre la merde dans qqch : fuck up sth

    foutre la paix à qq : leave sb alone /
    fous-moi la paix ! : leave me alone ! / give us a break, will you ?
  9. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Don't you think ?:)

    Je comprends les joueurs : ils ont trente-cinq chances de ne pas se faire mettre...
    Et ils mettent, ils mettent...
    Léo Ferré - Il n'ya plus rien)
  10. dictionaric

    dictionaric Banned

    Oops ! Everybody forgot that FOUTRE is also a noun that means SPERMA in colloquial french.
    Example : La femme de chambre de l'hôtel prétend qu'elle retrouve souvent les draps pleins de foutre.
  11. i agree with the meaning but it is rarely used in this case !
  12. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    I persist in saying that to my ears foutre sounds rude and agressive.

    JMC translates
    qu'est-ce qu'on en a à foutre = who cares ?
    But the normal way to express this is definitely
    qu'est-ce qu'on en a à faire ? or the more colloquial qu'est-ce qu'on en a à fiche ?

    I stated this in another thread, but I'll say it again : I only use it if I am really angry, which is seldom. ;)

    To be fair, I have to confess that when I was younger I did what a lot of young people do : I used and abused that sort of language, in order to sound more adult and forceful, ironically enough. :)
  13. Starcreator Senior Member

    Canada, English, French
    Canada, English
    But is the verb 'foutre" one for which you would reprimand a child, and for which you would criticize a movie or TV show?

    How bout "ficher" - is it appropriate for everyday conversation?
  14. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    Definitely unsuitable in a child's mouth!
    Fiche is milder.

    Note that fiche is an infinitive, I think it is the only one of its kind in French.
    Ficher exists, but it means to file, to keep tabs
  15. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Thanks for that Egueule!:thumbsup: :thumbsup: That's the most interesting thing I've learnt this week, but I'm funny like that and lead a very boring life!;)

    My Le Robert gives "ficher" as an alternative, but I think this is probably a modern invention (in the reflexive it only gives se fiche de).
  16. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    Yes ficher is an alternative, according to dictionaries. But it is seldom used, probably because of the possible confusion with the "real" verb ficher.
  17. Jad Senior Member

    UK, English
    I have some questions :rolleyes:

    In english there is a HUGE difference in rudeness between fuck/sod/stuff off, so which actually best corresponds to va te faire foutre?

    2) Why is there such a difference in how rude qu'est-ce qu'on en a à foutre, je m'en fous, fous le camp... etc etc are compared with va te faire foutre? since they're all using the same word :confused: :confused:

    3) Is it ok to say va te faire foutre around children?

    4) Is it ok for children to say va te faire foutre around their parents? Because one mention of the "f-word" here means punishing big time :mad: :D

    5) If it is so rude to say va te faire foutre, why are you so lenient when it comes to rating films with bad language in?

    EDIT - Ignore some of the questions if they've been asked already, I was too slow =]
  18. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    1 Va te faire foutre means fuck off and nothing else
    2 because in va te faire foutre the sexual meaning prevails
    3 it is not ok at all in my book
    4 ditto
    5 being rude is people's right
  19. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    I'm just going to answer number 2!;)

    French functions in so many ways differently from English. Here they are using a grammatical structure to be rude (as ridiculous as that sounds in English!!) Swear words as such are just not as shocking in French as in English. So "foutre" as such is not as shocking as "to fuck". So to add the rudeness they use the "va te faire..." construction. This even renders "va te faire voir" much ruder than I don´t know "go get yourself seen to" or something like that in English. I think it says a lot that use of rude words is not shocking in French, but misuse of grammatical structures is!:D
  20. alain larochelle

    alain larochelle Senior Member

    Québec, francophone
    Hi jad, In 2) va te faire foutre really means go get fucked, while in other examples (fouts-le là, qu'est-ce tu fouts, etc.) the original meaning is symply not refered to.
    I have no idea where the word comes from. perhaps a pastry image, LOL.
    BTW can someone suggest a good etymological dictionary, in french and/or english?

    EDIT: oops i'm a little late with this one...
  21. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    Alain, no BTW questions please! :)

    Start a new thread in this forum about the best etymological French dictionary, it is an interesting question (which mean I am interested lol) ;)
  22. Jad Senior Member

    UK, English
    I've come across the word "kène" which is apparently an infinitive and verlan of "n_quer"

    So with these funny words do you conjugate them as normal, or do nothing? Like would you say "Nous nous en fichons" or "nous nous en fiche" ?

    Also, if you're watching a film and you hear "va te faire f_", is it the sort of thing that would make you shudder or suddenly perk up, or is it something that doesn't really deserve a reaction and you can just carry on as if someone were just saying "va t'en, s'il te plaît"? Because I know that in an english film (especially with a 12/15 rating) once the f-word's mentioned it's like... woah did I just hear that.
  23. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    It would be nous nous en fichons.
    I was not thinking of verlan when I wrote fiche was the only verb of its kind.
    To my knowledge verlan verbs are not conjugated :
    Nous kènons ? Oh que non ! :D
    Les verbes en verlan restent tels quels, ce qui contribue à leur charme raffiné ! :D:D:D
    Si l'in veut conjuguer, il faut s'en tenir à la forme classique :
    "les membres de la bande rivale souhaitaient que nous niquassions nos Nike."
  24. dictionaric

    dictionaric Banned

    I don't think that FOUTRE is so rude in french. It's a question of taste.
    Here is the conjugaison :

    Je fous, tu fous, il fous, nous foutons, vous foutez, ils foutent
    j'ai foutu, je suis foutu.
    Nowadays the meaning is "to do" but three centuries ago the meaning was "to fuck". The verb comes from the latin FUTUERE "to have intercourse".

    FICHER : je fiche, nous fichons BUT j'ai fichu, je suis fichu (if it replaces foutre).
    Also FICHER has two meanings : 1 to do 2 to thrust

    As French I am not prude and use the words because they do exist for being used. So I do not write f... or sh.. but fuck and shit :)
  25. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Yes sometimes but....
    - Arthur, où t'as mis le corps ?
    - Ben J'sais plus où j'l'ai foutu, les mecs ! (Boris Vian)
    doesn't mean I can't remember where I did it but where I put it.
  26. dictionaric

    dictionaric Banned

    Oh mais je n'ai jamais dit que FOUTRE était privé de sens ! :)
  27. gshenaut Member

    Is there a difference in rudeness between "je m'en fous" and "je m'en fouts" ?

    Greg Shenaut
  28. Agnès E.

    Agnès E. Senior Member

    France, French
    Bonjour Greg,
    Welcome to the forum.

    The verb (se) foutre conjugates that way:

    Je (me) fous
    Tu (te) fous
    Il/elle/on (se) fout
    Nous (nous) foutons
    Vous (vous) foutez
    Ils/elles (se) foutent

    => je me fouts does not exist. ;)

    Edit : je me fous => I don't care, this is not really vulgar, just colloquial.
  29. gshenaut Member

    Interesting. In the Ultralingua conjugaison table, they have fouts, fouts, fout, foutons, foutez, foutent. Is that foutu or what?

    Greg Shenaut
  30. Agnès E.

    Agnès E. Senior Member

    France, French
  31. gshenaut Member

    Si, je vous crois. Voilà ce que c'est passé : ce matin j'ai vu un dessin dans le Monde où un homme est dépeint au moment de se donner une « injection » avec la buse d'une pompe à essence et de dire « je m'en fous, je veux ma dose ! ». (C'était au sujet de la croissance des prix.)

    J'ai remarqué que ce verbe « foutre » est très commun dans le français écrit, et je me suis devenu curieux à en savoir plus. Puis j'ai cherché dans Ultralingua, où j'ai trouvé « je fouts » etc., qui m'a apparu étrange. En suite, j'ai cherché dans Google avec "foutre fous fouts" et j'ai trouvé ce fil.

    Et maintenant, grâce à vous, j'ai compris ce que se passe, je suis encore heureux.

    Greg Shenaut

    P.S. I have notified Ultralingua technical support of their problem.
  32. Agnès E.

    Agnès E. Senior Member

    France, French
    :thumbsup: .........................
  33. KristinaMaria Member

    is "sperma" a word that one would use in everyday interactions? either in French or in English i think that is a long shot but I would love to get an example for reference.......
  34. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    I don't think "sperma" is a word.
    Kristina Maria, the proper French word is sperme (sperm or semen in English) and it can be used in everyday conversation, it is the normal word, neither rude nor overly scientific.
  35. guenon-lindz New Member

    English - Scotland
    in my experience they get round this by simply not conjugateing the verb ie using 'on' instead of 'nous'.... (which they generally do in everyday speech to avoid conjugating any verbs into the 'nous' form, verlan or otherwise)
    this makes sense as many verlan-ed verbs are taken from the 3rd PS part anyway.... i have never heard a verlan verb conjugated and as you don't often see them written down (apart from the really common ones that have become part of regular speech) i have no idea if there is any difference in 'je kene' and 'tu kene(s?)'.... very interesting tho.... i shall ask my teacher tomorrow at school!! (yes im still at school, only 16 :( doin advanced higher french tho :D yas!!!)
    n about the verb 'fiche' thats soooo cool, guess i never thought of what the infinitive would be, bt yeh i guess ficher does have a completely different meanin.... another classroom discussion topic wooo
  36. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    On en a rien à ficher (25%)
    On en a rien à fiche (75%)

    Most of the time, the infinitive of this verb is avoided because no one is really sure whether it has to be ficher or fiche. And it's so much easier to say rien à foutre or rien à cirer/secouer/branler,....
  37. hald Senior Member

    In absolute terms you're right, that expression is not that rude. The problem is above all that it's very disrispectful.
  38. pieanne

    pieanne Senior Member

    Nice Hinterland
    "Va te faire foutre" is rude.

    "Je ne sais plus où je l'ai foutu" is not rude
    "Qu'est-ce que tu as foutu?" is not rude
    They're just bad language.
  39. musikat Member

    San Luis Obispo, California
    California, USA - Native "English" Speaker
    I'm way late to this party, but perhaps this will be helpful to someone.

    Context can have a huge impact on the sense of a word in English, and perhaps these examples will illuminate the parallel potential in French.
    The simple word "do" can be used as a perfect example. One could say:

    "I did it!" express completion of a task, but if one referenced a female companion and said:

    "I did her."

    ...there is a clearly sexual meaning. "I made her" has a similar sense with a comparably innocent verb.
    The common slogan, introduced by Nike:

    "Just do it!"

    ...has a motivational sense. Though this next expression isn't generally used in English (that I know of):

    "Go do yourself!"

    ...the reflexive quality clearly renders it a crude, dismissive imperative. If someone tossed this off where I live, (California), it would get some odd looks for sounding a bit strange, and observers might wonder if the speaker was a foreigner, but there would be no doubt that the intent was unfriendly and somewhat vulgar.
  40. Bostonien Senior Member

    USA - English
    It has been my experience that French people tend to underestimate the vulgarity of the word "fuck" (which is extremely vulgar when used in "real life" as opposed to the movies where, yes, it is used all the time). A lot of French people tend to want to use "fuck" (or "shit", which is almost as vulgar) as often as they use "foutre", and this results in extremely vulgar speech that I've had to correct.

    My impression is therefore that overall "fuck" and "shit" are more vulgar than "foutre", although reading egueule's comments has been very enlightening.

    Here are some comments/questions on the list of "equivalents" previously posted. The list left me a little confused, so hopefully someone can provide some clarification:

    "What the hell is he doing" is much less vulgar than "What the fuck is he doing", so reading this I'm not sure exactly how vulgar "qu'est-ce qu'il fout" is. (BTW we don't say "what the shit is he doing")

    "I don't care" is normal, acceptable English. "I don't give a damn" is slightly colloquial and just a little vulgar, but not too bad. So once again, reading this doesn't help me figure out where "Je m'en fous" stands.

    "Who gives a shit about..." is extremely vulgar.
    "Who cares?" is a little colloquial but not vulgar at all.
    "Who gives a monkey's ??? what he thinks" is a ridiculous expression that nobody actually uses. More common would be "Who gives a rat's ass..." and that would be considered vulgar.

    Again, the English examples are all over the place in terms of vulgarity, so I'm not sure whether these French expressions are also different from each other...

    "Fuck off!" and "Fuck him!" are both extremely vulgar, but so are the French expressions so here I agree that the translation is pretty accurate. (Except for "get stuffed" which in the U.S. is not a common expression)

    "Scram" is colloquial but not the least bit vulgar (you hear the word in children's cartoons). Is this the case for "foutre le camp"?

    "Throw away" is normal, acceptable English. I assume then that "foutre en l'air" is normal, acceptable French.

    Here again I'm confused. "Fuck up" is extremely vulgar whereas "screw up" is colloquial but not vulgar. I would say "screw up" in front of my boss at work but definitely not "fuck up". So which translation is more accurate?

    Nobody says this in the U.S.

    "Fuck something up" is extremely vulgar, so I assume that "foutre la merde dans qqch" is also extremely vulgar.

    "Leave sb alone" is normal, acceptable English. "Give us/me a break" is colloquial but also acceptable in front of children. Is this the case for "Foutre la paix à qqn" and "Fous-moi la paix !"? (Both seem more vulgar to me, but that's why I'm asking)

    It's hard figuring out an "equivalent" level of vulgarity, especially since cultural and linguistic differences can have a large effect. That said, I think it would be very helpful if native French speakers could help clarify some of these translations, since the English examples are all over the place in terms of how acceptable they are.
  41. Bostonien Senior Member

    USA - English
    Here's an example to help clarify my generalizations about French people and their use of swear words.

    It happens fairly often that a French coworker will have something relatively mild happen. Maybe they drop a pencil on the floor, or there's a paper jam. In any case, something like this happens and I hear "FUCK!" or "SHIT!" and my reaction is immediately

    "What?! What happened? Did someone get hurt?!"

    at which point the French person will say "oh no - I just dropped a pencil".

    The point here is that when I hear vulgar words like "fuck" and "shit" in real life (as opposed to the movies), then I expect someone to really be upset, angry, and even then I perceive the comments as inappropriate. The anglophones I work with have gotten used to the cultural difference, so we don't really think anything negative when we realize it's a non-native speaker, but we do try to explain that these words should be used sparingly unless you really want to sound vulgar and offensive.

    I hope this helps shed some light on the complex relationships between words like "fuck" and "foutre".
  42. poulbot77

    poulbot77 Senior Member

    France, near Paris
    French, French slang

    Here is the difficulty to translate from a language to another!
    You have not to translate a word but an expression, including context, culture, history, people level and relationship.....

    In the slang language you have also levels, or if you create a scale from the “good” French to the “slang”, may be 1 for good French and 5 for the hardest slang!

    Level 1: va te faire voir (ailleurs)!
    Level 3: va te faire foutre!
    Level 5: ve te faire enculer! (sorry!)

    The word is, sometime, not really important, the sentence yes! Example:

    Level 5: va te faire mettre ! Is very aggressive, without any slang word!

    I remember a topic about the word “con”, we can write pages about this word too! Is it possible to translate it in English? Not really! You have to translate the meaning of the sentence, not the word!

    PP :)
  43. gegetronic Senior Member

    moi je comprends pas pourquoi vous n'écoutez pas Superromu?
  44. Gez Senior Member

    French (France)
    Or "Va te faire voir chez les Grecs", same meaning and same rudeness, because of the old stereotype that the Greek practice sodomy.

    The Papuans (Papous) also have that reputation, leading to my favorite version of that curse, favorite for its nearly poetic level of absurdity and offensiveness:
    "Va te faire empapouter chez les Grecs !"
  45. Gez Senior Member

    French (France)
    I would say it's on the level of "what the hell." "Qu'est qu'il fiche" corresponds to "what the heck" and "qu'est qu'il fait" to "what on Earth"...

    Would be on the level of "I don't give a rat's ass." The "damn" level is for "fiche", and the more polite versions (on the level of "I don't care") are "je m'en moque", "je m'en balance."

    There's also "je m'en contrefous" which is stronger than "fous" but not more vulgar.

    No, it would be "on dégage !" ("let's scram!") or "dégage(z) !" for "scram" in that context.

    In informal conversation, yes. You can use "fiche" here to be more polite, though. "Il m'a encore tout fichu en l'air ! J'en ai ras-le-bol de ranger derrière lui !" Say someone, angry about the mess his roomie made in the living room.[/quote]
  46. broglet

    broglet Senior Member

    English - England
    The rudeness of words, in both French and English - and I suspect in any language - is in a large part contextual.

    Fuck off! (said with a smile to a friend)
    Fuck off! (said agressively to a stranger)
    I don't give a fuck
    Oh fuck! (eg when you drop something)

    As for comparing degrees of rudeness between English and French, you then have to add cultural considerations ... and the whole thing becomes impossibly complicated!
  47. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Another important factor to take into consideration is that the verb "foutre" is hardly ever used any longer to refer to sexual intercourse, I mean, in a matter-of-fact way, devoid of any abusive intent (but vulgar all the same). Whereas f**k is still used in that sense.
  48. broglet

    broglet Senior Member

    English - England
    This is true; in fact 'fuck' is the main word to refer to sexual intercourse in English, but why is that important?
  49. Zhorg Senior Member

    well, if we go that way, "shag" is very used too (british)
  50. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    It makes a difference because when you use "foutre" the sexual meaning is not really present in your mind, since that's not the word you generally use for that. I think it is even true, though to a lesser extent, for va te faire foutre.. Only va te faire baiser, if it existed, would reach the same degree of vulgarity as fuck off. or similar phrases.

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