10

By equivalent of "Holy fucking shit," I mean a phrase that:

  1. consists mostly of curse words; and
  2. is used primarily to indicate disbelief / surprise (as opposed to, e.g., insulting someone or expressing anger).

Edit: if you look at http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=holy+fucking+shit, you'll see the idea of surprise in most definitions -- you wouldn't use "Holy fucking shit" if you were mad at someone, or expressing anger. (English speakers, do you agree?)

The "bordel de merde" and "putain de merde" answers given below are pretty good, but they aren't prefect: someone might angrily yell "bordel de merde!" if they dropped a plate in the kitchen, for example, or if their kids were driving them crazy (right?). People don't use "Holy fucking shit" that way -- never in anger, only in surprise.

  • Could be linked to this one ? Maybe not, if you hoped for a somewhat literal translation (which, by the way, won't be easy). Anyway, even if the question is different, some answers could be useful I guess. – RomainValeri Jun 25 '15 at 19:46
  • 2
    Have you tried asking the Merovingian? – Édouard Jun 26 '15 at 1:11
  • 3
    Be warned that all of the answers given so far are characteristically European and would provoke hilarity if you ever used them in Canada. – Keith Jun 29 '15 at 3:04
9

I'll take the Urban Dictionary definitions and try to show you how the words putain, bordel and merde can fit in any of those situations. To me it's more of a matter of how you say the words than a matter of words themselves. Hence my answer is more for spoken French than written French:

Surprise

One might add Oh in front of any of those words and get the "Holy fucking shit they found water on the sun" effect: Oh putain, il y a de l'eau sur le soleil! as well as the "Holy fucking shit the car in front of us is braking" effect. Repeating quickly that same word several times will add emphasis to the feeling of surprise and urgency: Merdemerdemerdemerdemerde

NB: good parents might say Oh lala in front of their kids in the car situation

Exasperation

The most natural thing I say when something exasperates me is some sort of Rhoo putaaain...!. Another way to handle those beautiful words would be to wrap them with mais and quoi, for example Mais merde quoi!. The wonderful Putain de bordel de merde works quite fine here. This is where the word bordel belongs the most

Indignation

Using those words to convey indignation is very similar to exasperation. It will be said in a more energetic way though: Mais putain quoi! C'est pas possible!

Wonder

To express wonder, once again, those words can be used. If you've been hiking for hours and finally reach this beautiful landscape you've been craving for, you might drop a ooh meeeerde! with a big smile on your face.

In short, if you say any of those words with a tone that expresses your feelings, it might just work ;) Thank you for that question, I had never thought of how various usage we have of those words. And there are even more!

14

Although either "Bordel de merde!" or "Putain de merde!" alone would probably suffice in most situations (see Reverso), in some rare cases of total disbelief, a combination of the two would be in order to take it from "just" "Holy Shit" all the way to "Holy Fucking Shit": putain de bordel de merde!

  • 1
    +1 for the very idiomatic "putain de bordel de merde" – RomainValeri Jun 26 '15 at 14:47
7

Historically

Traditional swearing involving holy will be :

  • Nom de Dieu

    (Populaire) (Trivial) Juron familier pour exprimer la colère, la surprise, le dépit, etc.

  • Sacrebleu

    Etymologie :
    Altération de [Par le] sacre de Dieu, où bleu est utilisé par substitut pour éviter le blasphème.
    Interjection :
    Juron familier marquant l’admiration, la colère ou l’étonnement.

    Sacrebleu, si je m’attendais à te voir ici !

  • All its derivatives : Palsambleu or Sangbleu

  • Bon sang and Bon sang de bonsoir (with more about palsambleu too)


Today

More insulting and closer to what you are looking for and being more used nowadays will be :


For your curiosity

And there is the curse words list of the most known swearing guy in French history ! (capitaine Haddock, friend of Tintin)

  • I agree that referring to "Holy" these expressions fit, but if you don't want to look like you travelled in time right from the 19th century, you better not use any of these, with an exception for the first one. OK I might exagerate a bit, but those as the Haddock curse words, are just out of date big time. Probably worth mentionning it before OP uses it :-) – Laurent S. Jun 26 '15 at 7:34
  • @Bartdude Yeah, you are right, I'm just placing it here because it is a funny part of the French swearing history ! ;) I have edited to make clear what my answer is – Yohann V. Jun 26 '15 at 7:39
  • @Bartdude It is not cristal clear for what usage the OP asks, it may be for an historical novel ! – Yohann V. Jun 26 '15 at 7:44
  • 1
    Indeed, but it might be for trying to fit in a group of French-speaking friends, so better mention it :-) Also I'm actually not sure how modern "Holly f*** shit" is, in my believes this is quite "modern", so I must admit I didn't think about the possibility of an old text... – Laurent S. Jun 26 '15 at 7:51
  • 1
    Bande de zapotèques de tonnerre de Brest! :-) – Adrian Jun 26 '15 at 9:06
2

For the sake of completeness, for expressing strong surprise:

Ouah, la vache!

(or variants like "Oh, la vache!", "Ah, la vache!"). It might perhaps work especially well in movie dubbing.

It also works in advertising, because it is socially acceptable (see a very humorous hijacking of the phrase, which shortly became a meme in the 1980s).

1

"Bigre !"

Attribué à Maurice Couve de Murville face à une situation très embarrassante.
Ministre des affaires étrangères sous de Gaulle, issu de la HSP, ce personnage d'apparence austère, n'était pas dépourvu d'un humour pouvant être féroce.

0

"Bordel de putain de merde à la con" is probably the most complete swear phrase.

  • 3
    De mémoire, dans le sketche Les cintres, Desproges use de cette presque exacte formule, même un poil plus "complète". Je crois que c'était Putain de bordel de merde [de cintre] à la con, chié. Mais en revanche, c'était pour exprimer... la colère. Et en effet, je ne trouve pas que ça exprime la surprise. – RomainValeri Jun 29 '15 at 3:18
-1

For me, the best equivalent is Putain de bordel de merde.

-1

« Putain de bordel de merde! » grogna-t-il en se secouant les cheveux avec degoût. « Cet endroit me répugne! »

p.233, Train d'enfer pour Ange rouge, THILLIEZ, F.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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