Sicilian’s flare for uttering profanities


When I was a child I had an Uncle who was terribly capricious, a real joker (he still is until this day) and he took great pleasure in teaching my brother and I all the colourful Italian swear words possible. 

My Uncle thought it was all terribly funny and hoped we’d use them in front of our mother who as a former primary school teacher would be appropriately shocked.

I recently read an article which suggested people who use swear words have down to earth, truthful and logical personalities and using bad language has nothing to do with being bad mannered as traditionally thought.

Cussing is really about being to the point and realistic and simply being rude. This is an interesting take on the subject and I have found people I know who use ‘colorful language’ are genuinely no nonsense types who cut through political correctness with a knife and get to the rough truth below ornamental politeness.

 COSI language collage

I’m not looking for an excuse to launch into a litany of four letter words but when it’s needed and apt ‘cuss’ can be more powerful than all the words in a thesaurus.

I have discovered Sicilians have a particular flare for inventing swear words, curses and such phrases, mixing everything with a pinch of blaspheme for good measure.


My education in vivid ‘Siculu’ cursing has come about thanks to the Sicilian men surrounding me, who could probably write many volumes dedicated to this particular lexicon!

I have heard swear words that are so offensive they would make a sailor blush, I have even heard women use particular words regularly which refer to male and female genitalia.

Sicilian and Italian swearing combines the holy and profane which kicks and spits out venom onto Saints, the Virgin Mary and God himself. I am not going to write any swears here but I will filter them to give you an idea of what I mean (people easily offended can skip the following paragraph.)

When things go wrong Sicilians curse the Saints and certain body parts (usually genitalia), the Madonna and certain animals (mostly pigs) and if they want to be particularly offensive it gets more personal with references to ‘your sisters privates.’

There I said it, I have never heard such colorful cuss words as here in Sicily, it’s ‘profanely’ confusing!

Thanks to the Sicilian’s curses I’ve learn the filthiest words possible about certain body parts, the names of animals, apparently animals with horns are particularly offensive as they refer to ‘cuckold’ men (an archaic term in English referring to a husband with an adulterous wife). Ridiculing Saints seems to be a popular way of insulting others and letting off steam when things are not going your way.





Images c/o: and


11 thoughts on “Sicilian’s flare for uttering profanities

  1. Swearing is really big in Spain, in great contrast to South America. Any sentence that doesn’t contain either joder (screw/fuck), culo (arse) or coño (cunt) just isn’t complete!


    1. I can image, the Spanish are close cousins to Italians! Good to know those words in case someone swears at me without me knowing. I think it’s terrible when tourists get sworn at and they don’t even know it, very mean indeed.


      1. Well, it’s just part of everyday language here, rather than conveying aggression or being insulting per se.

        The only instance of tourists being sworn at that I witnessed was on a bus, when a bunch of young teenagers let rip at a small group of Americans, swearing at them in English. They were being boisterous rather than threatening, and clearly thought it hilarious, but it sure made me cringe.


      2. Yes, I find in general swearing is more ‘everyday’ which affirms the idea that it really is about being more ‘down to earth’ rather than offensive.
        I’m afraid I’ve seen several cases of Sicilians swearing at poor tourists who get in there way, which is terrible!


      3. Oh, believe me, I’ve come close in Toledo, which is overrun with them at times, and you can’t pass through some streets coz they are so clogged up! But then, I have to remind myself that I, too, am frequently a tourist. Plus the town’s economy depends on them.


  2. I learned that ‘dick’ is ‘fat’ in German today 😉 So then I just had to find out what ‘dick’ was… general hilarity ensued 🙂


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