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How offensive is the expression 他妈的? What is an English expression with a similar degree of offensiveness? In what situations is this expression appropriate / not appropriate?

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+1 for introducing me to the swearing tag :) –  mehaase May 17 '12 at 4:20
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6 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It is very common and, in my personal experience, has similar offensiveness as the f word in English.

It can be offensive and quite rude: e.g. in a business negotiation, when the deal is finally broken and one side says:

你他妈的给我滚出去 = "Get your fucking ass out of my office"

It may be used in irony among close friends which is not offensive then: E.g. when two close friends meet after a long time, one may say:

你最近死哪去了? 他妈的都忘了哥了! similar as "Where have you been lately? I fucking miss you!"

Hope this help to get the points.

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There is a restaurant in the Ximending district of Taipei, Taiwan, with a giant banner exclaiming;

真他媽的好吃

=~ "Truly f**ing tasty"

I equate it to the British "bloody". "That's bloody tasty".

Offensive in a formal context, but a commonly accepted expletive.

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In every formal environment, is not appropriate like fxxking & shxt in english.

Unofficially, in oral, people also use 他妈的 equivalent to VERY.

Examples:

天气真他妈的热(It's really fxxking hot today)

when used isolated, just means damn it and the same degree of offensiveness.

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I believe that 他妈的 would be a general curse like "f--k!" (or "damn"), but not an insult , whereas 你妈的 would be a personal insult like "f--k you" or "you mother(truck)er."

Think of 他, in this context, as a generic form of "you", much like "on" in French. In other words, "one's mother" or "someone's mother" (although could also specifically be "his mother" - depends on context).

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the particular insult is an euphemistic omission of the female genital organ after "的"...

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I think 他妈的 is perfectly normal and not offensive just liking fucking. It is used to emphasize something but people may regard you rude and uneducated if you say this in some formal situation.

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It is a highly offensive expression comparable in meaning and offensiveness to "sob" in English. It refers to coming out of one's mother (one's birth), and not for the better.

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