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Swedish swear words Posted by on Jan 27, 2012 in Culture, Living in Sweden, Swedish Language

The first words many foreigners learn in a new language are usually swear words. I don’t think this is uncommon for anybody, no matter where you come from or what language you want to learn.

The point of this post is not to encourage swearing but to explain the degree of different swear words in Swedish vs. English.

In Swedish there are four “real” swear words. Jävlar, Satan, Fan and Helvete. All of these are religiously related words. Jävel (Jävlar), Satan and Fan are all synonyms for the devil. Helvete is the Swedish word for hell. All these have become down-toned over the years but can still not be used by politicians in public for example.

“Jävla bords-jävel”

“Damn table devil” To be roughly translated. Probably something you might say when having trouble with a table.

Excrement bases words are also common. For example; skit (shit) can be used not only as a swear word but as an emphasis like “very”. Skit-snygg (very good looking) or skit-ful (very ugly).

Then there are sex based swear words, which are the foulest of the used swear words in Sweden. Very many foreigners learn and over-use these without really understanding to what extent they insult somebody. These and words relating to ethnic background.


In Sweden however, F*** You is not at all as severe as in other, English-speaking countries, and even the Swedish equivalents are used a lot among younger people. This can be quite a shock for especially English speakers, when they hear young people, even kids, using the phrase without concern.

There are therefor many other, much less offending, words that you can learn instead. Honestly, who doesn’t need a couple of words to express the pain after stubbing your toe or something like that?!

The milder and mostly harmless (even among the grandparents) swear words are:

Swedish word / English literal translation (or as close you can get, feel free to give better translations if you know of any)

Fanken – darn

Fasiken – darn

Järnspikars också – iron nails

Söte göte – dear göte

göta petter – göta petter (Just a name)

Jösses – dear me

jäklar – darn

förgrymmat också – damn it

förbaskat (också) – darn it

tusan – shoot

förbövelen (this is yet another religious word but not as severe) – literally it means executioner

Sjutton också – sjutton means seventeen but religiously the number meant more than it does today

järnvägar – railroads

attans – darn

attans bananer – darn bananas

sjutusan – seven thousand

det var som sjutton – that was like seventeen (this is a pure literal translation since there are no English equivalents)

fy katten – darn cat

nedrans – darn

rackarns – shoot

hujeda mig – dear me

fy bubblan – my gosh

milda matilda – gracious Mathilda

Bomber och granater – bombs and grenades

These milder words were thought of because the first syllable is the same as many other more harsh words, giving the impression you are going to say something vulgar but changing your mind at the last minute.
Good luck, and try to chose appropriate language when speaking in Sweden 😉

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