What’s The Difference Between A Bad Word and A Gros Mot

Les gros motsWould you have guessed that a language that is nicknamed things like romantic language, or beautiful language and so forth is also one of the languages with the longest collection of bad words?

Not only French has a collection of so called bad/cursed words, but there’re many ways to name them too, like; “gros mots” (big words), “villains mots” (bad word), “mots mal polis” (not polite words), mots grossiers” (rude words), “jurons” (swearing words) and “blasphème” (blaspheme), to name a few terms.  All of which refer to the same thing; cursing words.

We have so many bad words in French that while some may be very bad and not used too much by everyone, some are very common and can come up at just about any time. You hear them at home, in the street, in movies, and on TV.  Yeah, bad words are not beeped on French TV.  Nope, you can enjoy them all!

What you Need to Understand about French Bad Words

There are some soft bad words, so to speak, in French, and few that may be really bad.  But for the most part, they are used a lot by people everywhere and from any social class.

An important thing you must understand is that using a bad word is not always bad in French. I know that may sound weird, but it’s true.  For example, the word “putain” which means “whore” in French is a cursed word that is used all the time, because it means about a thousand things. Make sure you watch the video to understand what I mean here.

Some French bad words have a masculine and a feminine form, depending on whom to tell them to. You’ll be able to see this in my list of French bad words below.

Who Uses Bad Words in French?

The answer to this question is everybody that speaks French.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy was infamous for having been caught saying some of those bad words in public.  As a matter of fact, I think that he was the ONLY French president ever to have said bad words in public. But of course, we know that they ALL do being closed doors.

And yes, bad words were used here and there in the household I grew up in.  I grew up in a typical average family where we did use some of those juicy words, like anybody else. I don’t remember my mother reprimanding me or my brother of using some of them, because as I said, they’re just so common in France. And well, she was using some of them herself.

Not Every Single Bad French Word has a Translation in English

Because French tends to have way more cursed words than English does, don’t expect to have a translation for all of them.  Some don’t have a translation.  Period. This really becomes obvious when you watch a French movie with English subtitles, where all our many little distinct French cursed words are translated by “S**t” or “F**k,” when at times it’s really neither of the two.

Here is the list of French bad words

So, watch it the next time you go to France. You might here one of such words…

  • Crétin
  • Connard /Connasse
  • Con /cone
  • Connerie
  • Chiant/chiante/
  • Chieuse
  • Chiote
  • Enfoiré
  • Enculé
  • Fils de pute
  • Salaud / Salope
  • Salopard
  • Saloperie
  • Emmerdeur/emmerdeuse
  • Merdeux /merdeuse
  • Merde
  • Pétasse
  • Poufiasse
  • Putain
  • Abruti
  • Imbécile
  • Tête de neu
  • Neuneu
  • Va te faire foutre
  • Ca me fais chier
  • J’en ai ras le cul
  • Je m’en fous
  • Casse-burnes
  • Vermine


The Many Casual Use of the Word Putain

Have Fun with this one!

So, what’s your words on that? Don’t forget to comment down below!

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I hope you enjoyed this post, and will start applying those tips now. Please, let me know what you think and add your thoughts down below in the comments.

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13 thoughts on “What’s The Difference Between A Bad Word and A Gros Mot”

  1. Sylviane,

    I such a lover of old silent French movies. A bad word here or there could be put in to add to the flavor of it. I just think it’s funny!
    Oh this cat video cracked me up! I do have to send it to my daughter because she loves cats plus…speaks a little French.
    The more I read this blog, the more I want to buy tickets to France!
    Thanks for another great lesson,
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  2. Since you know I don’t speak French I wouldn’t know if someone was calling me a bad word or not Sylviane. Even if I visited I probably wouldn’t learn the language but I still love listening to people speak it.

    That cat video cracked me up! OMG, that was so darn funny and so inventive. I loved it.

    I’m about like Donna, the more I learn from you the more I want to visit. I always thought it would be neat but never had it on my Bucket List. Might be adding it now.

    Thanks Sylviane for such an enjoyable post even when it’s a subject on being bad. 😉

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    1. Hi Adrienne,

      When I think of a post for this blog I usually Google what people are searching about France or French, and French Bad Words is one of those things that people are googleling 🙂

      We sure do have a a lot of bad words French, and they are used quite often.

      When I did a video search those casts were the first thing that popped up. I simply love it, and thought you’d have a kick out of this 🙂

      Happy Sunday, Adrienne.
      Sylviane Nuccio invites you to read..Is French A Hard Language To Learn?My Profile

  3. Hi Sylviane

    Ah I love it! I did know there were swear words in the language but that is quite a list.

    I love the two videos you have here. The first one is great and she did an excellent demonstration.

    The cats one is great and I am going to pass that one on too.

    A great fun post – thank you.

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  4. When I help my daughter with her homework, I often have to check myself before commenting that the “grand mot” she is having difficulty with is a “gros mot”. Such are the risks of running a bilingual household. 🙂

  5. Hi Sylviane; Thanks for a post that brightened my day. I spent yesterday at the dentist getting my teeth cleaned. It took over an hour and would have been very painful without the drugs. smile I didn’t get much done yesterday. So thanks for the post. However, I use a screen reader so I don’t think I learned much and I know I didn’t hear the proper pronunciations of any of those words. It is curious that you have more sware words than we do. How about ethnically based words? I won’t mention the obvious ones here because I don’t want either of us getting in trouble over it, but do the french have slurs in addition to sware words? And perhaps french is a beautiful language or the language of love because unlike the more latin based languages like spanish or italian we have absolutely no idea what native french speakers are saying. As a blind man i find a french accent very sexy. Thanks for the post and take care, Max
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    1. Hi Max,

      How great that you have enjoyed this. Sorry for the dentist 🙂

      I am truly amazed that you are able to read blog posts while blind. How wonderful is that? You’ve got to love technology.

      Yes, French has way more swearing words than English does. No doubt. French has a bad word for “stupid” that English just doesn’t have at all. So, in the cats’ video it’s subtitled “stupid.”

      Yes, we have slurs too. French is a rich language you know!

      Thanks for coming here.
      Sylviane Nuccio invites you to read..Is French A Hard Language To Learn?My Profile

      1. Hi Sylviane; I’m glad I stopped by. I get so few comments on my blog that I strongly believe in supporting those who take the time to read my posts and leave their thoughts. Its something that a rich language like french has so many sware words. I guess it is out of a desire to be precise. It sounds like those native american groups that have multiple words for rain or snow. And I am happy that the technology is there for me to read blogs and do other online tasks. And I have come to enjoy being an inspiration to other people out here. I look forward to your future posts. Let me know if I can do anything to help you out. Take care, max
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