Why 他妈的 means fuck

I just started learning Chinese and kinda understood why many combinations of character means that in English but here ˋˋ<他><妈><的>ˋ ˋ<He><mother><target>ˋˋ

  • As in all cultures, the position / status / virtue of one's mother is of utmost importance as it's one's mother that gave us birth and therefore life itself. So, to swear / curse another person's mother is considered the epitome of insults and humiliation. In 他妈的, it is what is left unsaid but implied which forms the insulting part. It's something like "what the ....", (WTF) Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 16:47
  • It is puzzling because the fourth character is rarely uttered.
    – joehua
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 12:13
  • Think of it like this, referring to another's mother disrespectfully is not good like swearing is not good similar to calling someone a mother-f*er. Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 3:24

3 Answers 3


的 here doesn't mean target, it is functioning as a possessive marker that marks the subject before it possesses the object after it.

他妈的 literally means " his mother's " -- short for 'his mother's (swearing word)'

他妈的 is mostly used as an exclamation that expresses displeasure or anger similar to 'damn it' in English


It is short for 肏他妈的屄, to fuck his mother's cunt. The full phrase is often considered to be too vulgar even for slang, thus the omission.


Interestingly the phrase and the words and are never taught in China, so most people do not use or cannot read these two words. The phrase is almost always passed down orally, so much so that it is often written incorrectly as 操他妈的逼。

  • I'd rather say "it's often written intentionally (as opposed to incorrectly) as..." though I did meet people who pronounced 肏 as 入肉.
    – joehua
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 23:32

Because "mother" is used for insult in Chinese.

Mandarin Examples of f-words:

肏你妈 [cào nǐ mā] Fuck your mom

你妈屄 [nǐ mā bī] Your mom's cunt.

肏你妈的屄 [cào nǐ mā de bī] Fuck your mom's cunt

Sometimes people just omit the f-words and use the "mom" only, such as

你妈的 [nǐ mā de] your mom's

他妈的 [tā mā de] his mom's

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.