language lessons

12 Ways to Say ‘Screw You’ in Italian

Photo: Ted Spiegel/Corbis

Italians take great pride in their swearing. They’ve perfected the art of fighting, and they’ll use any opportunity they can to become enraged, if only for a hot second. In traffic? Forget about it! Within families? It’s how they show affection! Lover’s quarrel? It’s practically a form of foreplay. There is a true beauty to Italian hysterics, and a wicked humor to their swearing, which tends to refer to, um, dead relatives, runaway donkeys, and slutty moms. To further explore life beyond vaffanculo (which, in case you’ve never met an Italian, means “eff you” and is as common as ciao and grazie), we turned to Paolo Dellafiore, who is, ironically, an ultrarefined gentleman who just opened up a (very classy) cooking studio in Florence. Paolo says, “Italian swearing reaches unbelievable heights; it is, in its own way, a form of magnificent literature …” Enough with the pleasantries, here are a dozen ways to say fuck off in Italian.

1. Vaffanculo a chi t’è morto.
Translation: “Go fuck your dead family members.” Or “the souls of your dead family members.”
Notes: An elevated vaffanculo. Paolo says, “This is southern … from Napoli. It’s when you want to be extra insulting and vaffanculo just won’t cut it. In Italian culture, you add anything about family members to be extra offensive.” Another Italian says this is comparable to: “Eff you, you son of a dead bitch.” You choose.

2. In culo a tua madre.
Translation: “Up your mom’s ass.”
Notes: This is the most insulting you can go. The only notch higher would be “quella bocchinara di tua madre,” which involves your mama and fellatio, and might get you killed.

3. Vattela a pigliare in culo.
Translation: “Go take it up your ass.”
Notes: This is commonly used to tease someone in a lighthearted way. It’s popular slang as harmless as vaffanculo.

4.  Levati dai coglioni
Translation: “Get off my balls
Notes: This is used playfully when someone is in your way, or they’re annoying and you don’t want to be around them. It’s only rude if you say it to an old lady. Paolo says the more PG-13 version is “’Levati dalle palle,’ because palle is a nicer way to say balls.” But don’t say that to old ladies either.

5.  Attaccati a sto cazzo.
Translation: “Cling to your own cock
Notes: Basically, “You’re on your own.” Appropriate for all sorts of situations and used often in everyday vernacular. Example: “Paolo, can you take this test instead of me tomorrow?” Paolo: “No, I’m sorry but … ti attacchi al cazzo.”

6. Vai a fare i pompini col culo.
Translation: “Go give a blow job with your ass.”
Notes: Not so common, but a doozy. Paolo says this is typically lobbed at women, but can sometimes be used as an insult for both sexes.

7. Ficcati una barca in culo con i remi aperti.
Translation: “Stick a boat up in your ass with the oars out
Notes: There are millions of variations of this sentence, used mostly for intimidation or, as Paolo says, “to make it extra clear the person can fuck off now.” You can replace the boat with most large objects that come to the imagination. Paolo’s favorite? “Ti metto un remo in culo e ti sventolo per l’aria,” which means “I will stick an oar in your ass and wave you like a flag.” 

8. Prendila in culo da un ciuccio imbizzarrito.
Translation: “Take it in your ass from a runaway donkey.”
Notes: See above. Paolo reminds us, “It’s up to the imagination what can go up peoples asses.”

9. Vai a morire ammazzato.
Translation: “Go die murdered.
Notes: This is used often in Rome. It’s an ill wish that sounds more severe than it really is. Often used when a taxi drives by and doesn’t stop.

10. Quella bocchinara di tua madre.
Translation: “Your mother gives blow jobs for a living.”
Notes: This is the Italian “You son of a bitch!”

11. Testa di cazzo.
Translation: Head of a dick.”
Notes: Consider this the Italian version of calling someone an asshole/asswipe. It’s very, very common.

12. Va’ a farti fottere.
Translation: “Go screw yourself.”
Notes: Self-evident. However, Paolo reminds us that all of the above are best used when combined; e.g., “Go screw yourself with a runaway donkey and a bl0w-job-lovin’ mom.”

12 Ways to Say ‘Screw You’ in Italian