85 How to Curse

Warning! This entry contains words that can disturb some people :)

Every language contains some "strong" words that are considered taboo in many circumstances, and are chiefly used by adult males, or in extremely emotional circumstances.

There are four types of "cursing":

  1. a real curse, directed at someone, it really a kind of magic formula, for instance, you wish that someone dies, never has children, or something else. In traditional beliefs, this curse can then be removed by a skilled person (a priest, a Gypsy lady...)
  2. a personal insult, when you just want to show your opinion about someone or something
  3. a profanity, basically not directed at anyone, but expressing emotions, like anger, or just boosting self-esteem
  4. a filler word or expletive, when you use a "vulgar" word to fill gap, or in a generic way, meaning "something", "someone"

Some words related to this are:

kunem, kleo ~ pro- "throw a curse"
zaklinjem ~ zakunem, zakleo "give an oath"
vrijeđam ~ uvrijedim "insult, offend"
kletva "curse"
proklet adj. "cursed", "damned"
prost adj. "vulgar" (older meanings: "simple", "free")
uvrëda "insult"

The verb kunem means "throw a curse", but also "be vulgar"; a derived verb zakunem, zakleo ~ zaklinjem means "pledge", "give oath". Surprisingly, kunem + se means "give oath" as well!

The actual curse is simply a wish, which can also include an invocation of God (Da Bog da...) or so. "Vulgar" words can be used, but are not essential.

"Vulgar" words in Croatian are simply names of sexual body parts and related things, and verbs describing related functions. The most used are:

jebem, jebao ~ po- "fuck"
kuräc "male sexual organ"
pička, dat. pički "female sexual organ"
serem, srao ~ po- "shit"
sranje "shit" (a verbal noun of serem)

You should be careful when using them, since the first three are considered extreme language by most speakers. They are mostly used in set phrases that also include mati f "mother" to maximize effect (jebo is just a contraction of jebao, and a bare past participle is used as a "wish"):

jebem ti mater lit "I fuck your mother"
jebo ti päs mater lit. "may a dog fuck your mother"
idi u pičku materinu lit. "go to your mother's cunt"

Warning: these are serious insults, using them can provoke a physical response from the insulted person, sometimes using weapons if available, and could lead to lethal consequences.

Next, there are various "names" that can be used for a person:

budala m/f "fool"
đubre "trash"
idiot "idiot"
kreten "idiot"
kurva "whore"
peder "faggot"

People curse often privately, curses are often heard in movies and songs (shown in primetime), and sometimes in public speech (I must admit, in extreme situations):


Victory through harmony said...

Please could you translate "Pa nebi te na cesti pustila" in to English for me?


Daniel N. said...

It's a bit of a phrase, literally it means, "well, I would not leave you on the road"

You slightly misspelled the sentence, it should be "pa ne bih te..."

Victory through harmony said...

Ah nice one, thanks!

Daniel N. said...

Part by part:
pa = well
ne bih = I would not
te = you (acc.)
na cesti = on road
pustila = leave (past participle, feminine singular)

Anonymous said...

It means I would not leave you on the road :)

Unknown said...

Please can you translate for me 'the curse' as in woman's period - would it be 'kletva'? Thanks

Daniel N. said...

If something bothers you and you consider it a "curse", it would be prokletstvo; if you say something that curses somebody else, it's kletva. lp Daniel

Unknown said...

When I was younger, my Croatian grandmother would say a word when we did something stupid...it sounded like "pooh-droh"...any ideas of what it was, how it is spelled, what it means???

Unknown said...

oops...it was supposed to be "pooz-dro"..a z sound, not an h

Daniel N. said...

Can you tell me approximately what region was she from?

Anonymous said...

I heard a word that sounds like moo-lottz. Is that name calling? And what does it mean?

Daniel N. said...

I think you heard "mulac". It's not a vulgar word, it rather means young male, who is doing pranks, even a hooligan.

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