Using offensive language or insulting someone can be disrespectful regardless of the language used, but when it comes to the Swedish language, things can get a bit tricky. Sweden is known for its progressive and liberal culture, and the language reflects that with its gender-neutral pronouns and inclusive vocabulary.
It doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t talk dirty, but compared to other countries, you’ll rarely, if ever, hear swear words in public. And if so, it will most likely be an English word (Swedes have a habit of using English as well or mixing words.)
Let’s dive into the worst Swedish swear words and insults that you’d better not use, whether you are a foreigner or a native Swede, but still, it’s good to be aware of them! This list includes the following words: helvete, satan, fy, fan, skit, and jävla(r) along with four less-known words.
Helvete = Hell
Helvete is a Swedish word that translates to hell in English. It is considered a strong and vulgar term, and it is not commonly used in polite company. However, there are times when it may be appropriate to use this word.
For instance, Helvete is used to express anger, frustration, or extreme disappointment. If you were to stub your toe and were in a lot of pain, you might shout, Helvete! as a way of expressing your frustration. Similarly, if someone did something to really upset you, you might use this word to let them know just how angry you are.
Since this word is very similar to the English word hell, I think you can quickly memorize it.
Satan = Satan
Satan is a word that originates from Christianity and is often associated with the devil or evil. In Swedish, Satan (pronounced as “sah-tahn”) means the same thing as it does in English.
The word is often used as a slang word to express shock, surprise, or frustration. For instance, if someone lost their keys accidentally, they might say in anger Satan! as an expression of annoyance or frustration. Similarly, if someone were to hear some shocking news, they might use Satan! to express their shock or surprise.
Satan is a common slang word in Sweden, not considered particularly vulgar or offensive. It’s similar in usage to words like damn or heck in English. So this word is not so rude or vulgar, but it is better not to use it.
Jävlar = F*uck
Jävlar is a bit tricky to translate. It’s actually a curse word that is often used in a range of different contexts. The literal translation of Jävlar is devils, but it can carry a much stronger connotation in everyday use, and the best English word to describe Jävlar is f*uck.
This is one of the most vulgar Swedish swear words and insults, so unless you absolutely have to use it, it’s better to avoid it. And in case you come across a circumstance where you feel angry and annoyed, and you want to express your indignation, you can even say, “Jävla skit,” which means “bloody hell.“
Examples of use:
Jag hatar dessa jävla myggor! – I hate these fu*king mosquitoes!
Den här jävla läxan är så svår! – This f*ucking homework is so hard!
Fan = Damn, Heck
The best word to describe the Swedish fan is damn or heck. In terms of usage, fan can be used in a variety of situations. It can be used to express frustration, disappointment, anger, or even surprise.
It can also be used as a general intensifier, similar to the English word freaking, so it’s not quite a vulgar word, but not a polite one either. And precisely because it’s not such a vulgar word, you can hear it every now and then on the street.
And when to use the word fan? For example, if you’re stuck in traffic and running late for an appointment, you might say fan! out of frustration. Similarly, if you miss your train or bus, you might say fan! out of disappointment or annoyance. Or when you come home, and there are newspapers all over the floor because you forgot to close the window, you can say va fan? which translates to what the f*ck?
Skit = S*it, Dirt, Feces
The Swedish word skit looks and means the same as the English s*it, only its pronunciation is slightly different. There is not much to say about this word; however, it is good to mention that you can also combine it with other words from this list. For example, Jävla skit translated to fuc**ng s*it, or Badrummet är fullt av skit translated to The bathroom is full of s*it.
Fy (fan) = Ugh
Fy is a common Swedish swear word that is used to express disgust or disapproval. It’s often translated as ugh or eww in English. The word can be used on its own, or it can be combined with other words to create more specific phrases.
One common phrase you might hear in Sweden is fy fan, which translates to something like ugh, damn. This phrase is often used to express disgust or anger, and it’s considered fairly strong language.
Other Swear Words
Hora/slampa/slyna means wh*re or b*tch (source: Swedish swear words on Reddit)
Horunge translates to a son of a b*tch.
Fjolla or bög means fag*ot, and it’s an especially offensive word for men from the gay community.
Skitstövel means an as*hole.
So, did you already know any of these words? If not, was it difficult for you to guess what they might mean? Swedish is, at least in terms of the written word, similar to English in some aspects, so it shouldn’t be a problem for native speakers.