Serbian: What the..."


Senior Member
British English
Another thing you don't normally find in phrasebooks is expletives or swear words. I don't normally swear, but some people swear a lot, so it would be useful to know the most common expletives I'm likely to hear people saying (not to me, I hope, but when talking to each other!). In English, and I suppose every language, there are different degrees of expletives. If, for example, you find someone in a place where they shouldn't be, you can say, in order from mildest to strongest: "What on earth/What the heck/What the bloody hell/What the f--k are you doing here?" I wonder what people would say in Serbian for those alternatives?

If I do swear, it's usually when I'm annoyed with myself. If I hit my finger with a hammer, I might say "F--k!" and if I'm out shopping and then suddenly realise I've left the shopping list at home, I might say "Oh shit!" So I wonder what a Serb would say in those situations? Thank you!
  • Not a native, but I believe I have sufficient insight to be able to offer some expletives ...

    - јебемти! (< јебем ти ...)

    - јеботе! (< јебао те ...)

    - који курац??
    Not a native, but I believe I have sufficient insight to be able to offer some expletives ...

    - јебемти! (< јебем ти ...)

    - јеботе! (< јебао те ...)

    - који курац??

    Thanks! Google translate says these mean "F--k!" and "What the f--k?", so if that's true, they are strong expletives. Do you know any milder ones? People who don't swear (strongly) in English might say "Oh bother!" or "Darn it!", which you could say while your 90-year-old grandmother was listening, unlike "F--k!".
    which you could say while your 90-year-old grandmother was listening

    To be honest, in Serbia the 90-year-old grandmother probably swears the most ;)

    Jebemti is "I fuck your ...", you can add anything after it, most usual are mother, father, sun, blood, God, or whatever is annoying you at the moment.

    Jebote is "let .... fuck you" (only works for words of masculine gender, you need to change to jebala te/jebalo te for feminine/neuter).

    Koji kurac means "what the dick" - used as WTF.

    Again, I'm happy to be corrected by native speakers, but the above are used all the time and although their literal meaning is very strong, this doesn't seem to prevent people from saying them. I'm not really aware of "mild" swearwords in Serbian - it's either swearing or not.
    That's interesting, so Serbs are like Danes in that they swear a lot. Of the countries I know best, you hear much more swearing in Denmark than in Norway and probably more than in the UK. In the UK it's connected to class to some extent: working-class people are much more likely to swear. In English you can swear in the middle of a phrase or even the middle of a word! "It's half past bloody five!" "It's four o'f--king clock!"
    It is true that Serbs use a lot of swearwords but there are ways to express some of those things without them. One can use the words ’bre!’ and ’đavo’ in those cases.

    ’Bre’ is is used as a filler to stress the expression of surprise, impatience, anger, protest or cockiness. It is only used in Serbia and it does not change in the sentence.

    ’Đavo’ gets inflected and it is mostly found in expressions like: Šta koji đavo...? & Šta kog đavola...? Outside Serbia you are more likely to hear ’vrag’ instead.

    Gde si bre krenuo?! (= Where on earth do you think you’re going?)
    Šta bre oćeš ti od mene?! (= What the hell do you want from me?)
    Ko si bre ti da mi naređuješ?! (= Who the hell are you to tell me what to do!)
    Sklanjaj mi se bre s očiju! (= Get the hell out of my sight!)
    Nosi se bre dođavola! (= Go to hell!)

    Of course, all of the above also work without ’bre’.

    Šta si mu kog đavola (to) uopšte i spominjao? (= Why on earth did you mention it to him in the first place?).
    Šta koji đavo uopšte tražiš s takvim ljudima? (= What business do you have with persons like that for goodness sake?)
    Šta se kog đavola petljaš u stvari koje te se ne tiču? (= Why the hell do you meddle with things that are none of your business?)

    ’Koji đavo’ and ’kog đavola’ are more or less interchangeable.

    One could write an entire book on how to use the swearing expressions, I think it’s best to ask a private tutor if you have one.
    Thanks very much. I'm sure those expressions are enough for me, and basically only for listening practice - I doubt if I would use any of them. But even though I don't normally swear myself, I find it interesting that swearing seems to be much commoner in some countries than others.