The phrase 他妈的 has been explained in this question. Since I'm a no-expletives guy, I don't feel comfortable so close to the f-word. :) I was wondering what would be the correct way to use some of the milder curse words I use daily like "damn", "bloody hell", "sh*t", "arse" etc.

I'm guessing most of these cannot be translated directly, so I guess what I'm asking is: What would be more-or-less socially acceptable way of cursing in Chinese when you stub your toe?

4 Answers 4


May I suggest checking out the ChinaSmack glossary? They have a huge array of colorful language, and there is sure to be something that meets your needs in terms of a curse word there.

Just to add, I always hear Chinese girls saying 讨厌 (taoyan) when they are annoyed or frustrated, but it's not exactly the most masculine of statements. 烦 (fan) also seems to be a common expression amongst both genders, although not exactly the meaning you are looking for.

Hope that helps.

  • Or if stubbing your toe, 哎呀,好疼! might be pretty acceptable. 哎呀is one of my personal favorite words, and probably lines up with what you are trying to express pretty well.
    – Ciaocibai
    Dec 14, 2011 at 20:46
  • However, both 讨厌 and 烦 will almost never be used for cursing situations. :P "讨厌" is like "leave me alone" in girly form.
    – Flake
    Dec 14, 2011 at 20:48
  • Yes, 哎呀 or simply "啊(ah..)". ;) But, seems not too many people really say "好疼". It is like written words in novels.
    – Flake
    Dec 14, 2011 at 20:50
  • You definitely may suggest! :) It's amazing how some of these expressions on ChinaSmack are exactly the same as those used in my country. I haven't seen this in any other language (English, German, Italian...) Dec 14, 2011 at 20:58
  • Maybe it's the people I hang out with; I have to say, I've heard people say 哎呀 more in the South of China than the North.
    – Ciaocibai
    Dec 14, 2011 at 21:20

For cursing:

  • "操" is pretty similar to "damn" or "sh*t" in such situation of cursing. Also similar as they should not be used in very formal situations. However, the meaning of "操" is same as the f word in its verb form.
  • "操" should be quite acceptable (or at least ok) in informal scenarios.
  • "靠" has very very close meaning as "操" in this situation. Actually, it is some thing more dirty in origin.

Just express it hurts e.g. when get a toe stubbed:

  • While in very formal situations, I would say "Ah!(啊!)" (same as "Ouch!") without cursing. Note: the ah sound is really short, something short than 1/2 second perhaps.
  • 哎呀 has the similar meaning while in my personal impression, 哎呀 is more used in situation of surprises than got hurt.
  • Hm, are you sure about 操 being "damn" or "sht", my dictionary only says "_to fck (vulgar)_"? Doesn't seem like something I'd like to say when my program won't compile! Dec 14, 2011 at 21:21
  • By "pretty similar to" I meant only its usage in the situation of cursing. It has real meaning of f word, but in Chinese, widely used for cursing. 靠 is almost the same too. Yes, you can curse using 操 when your program does not compile. But only when you are really annoyed, e.g. when you are close to a deadline or in bad mood.
    – Flake
    Dec 14, 2011 at 21:26
  • 1
    A bit off-topic, but being Scottish, 哎呀 is great for me - if I stub my toe or whatever, I already automatically shout 'ai ya!' :) Well, that or something like 'ai ya f**cker!' :D
    – Cocowalla
    Dec 14, 2011 at 21:29
  • I think I understand what you're saying, we have the same thing in Croatian. However, this is exactly the thing I wanted to avoid, I'd like to get a bit more euphemistic if possible. For example, I like using "blast!", "cor blimey!" and other, more "British" expressions so to speak. Dec 14, 2011 at 21:31
  • @drHannibalLecter I've never actually heard anyone British say "cor blimey!" in real life, but I take your point :)
    – Cocowalla
    Dec 14, 2011 at 21:34

"靠" is more like it, in modern oral Chinese.

While "操" is literally the F-word since it's a homonym of "肏" which means the F-word.

If you are looking for a more speakable word, 倒霉, 该死 or 见鬼 would be more fit.

  • I did not put "靠" because it is actually "尻" which is even dirty as I presume. But anyway, they are almost the same to me. :P
    – Flake
    Dec 14, 2011 at 20:53
  • No, it's not. It's a pure exclamation nowadays.
    – Kabie
    Dec 14, 2011 at 21:16
  • As I understand, the relation between 靠 and 尻 and the one between 操 and 肏 are the same. They are all 通假字. Both 靠 and 操 are used as 通假 only after computer era.
    – Flake
    Dec 14, 2011 at 21:28
  • 1
    @drHannibalLecter To me, "糟糕" seems only appear in novels and movies rather than in real life conversations. Meanwhile, the very similar things, "糟了" / "坏了", are used in the situations where one forgets something important or similar. E.g. when I forget my project report in a meeting to managers, I may say "糟了" or "坏了" or "靠" or "操" silently.
    – Flake
    Dec 14, 2011 at 22:05
  • 1
    @dr Hannibal Lecter: Yes, 糟糕 is the word. However it usually is said softly and repeatedly, unlike a big, loud /dæm/ could frame the emotion.
    – Kabie
    Dec 14, 2011 at 22:07

I know some people might think 干 is not-so-mild, but I tend to hear it a lot in the sense of

Damn, all the way over there? That's a long way to go


That chick is hot, damn!
  • Can you add Chinese examples?
    – rxmnnxfpvg
    Jan 27, 2013 at 22:34

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