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Is there a French equivalent for "damn it"? I tried researching it on my own, but I couldn't find a proper and completely explained answer.

I'm practically trying to figure out how to use the French word for this in a certain situation. Say, I was burned by something. I touched something that I didn't know was hot, but I touched it and it burned me. My reaction is to quickly move my hand away from it and yell "damn it!", except I don't want to say "damn it", I want to say whatever the French equivalent is, just because it's funny or perhaps because I don't want anybody to know what exactly I just said.

Here's the information that I need about the word. I need to know what the word is, obviously, and exactly how it's spelled. I need to know the exact accurate pronunciation for the word. I need to know the most accurate translation for it, as well, if it does literally translate to "damn it" or just "damn" or whatever. I need to know how to use it properly, like if the situation I described above would actually be an appropriate time to use said word, or if it would make more sense elsewhere, or if there is a different word or phrase that would be more appropriate for that sort of situation. I need to know if there is a feminine and masculine difference of the word, like if it would need to be worded or pronounced differently depending on if a female or male says it.

If you need more detail, I will provide it. Thanks in advance to anybody that can help me with this.

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  • 1
    Incidentally, no word in French is different based on whether a male or female says it. They can be different depending on if they're used to describe a male or female.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Sep 15, 2017 at 12:04
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    Outdated: Diantre ! Sep 15, 2017 at 15:49
  • Out of interest... and... from some old norman standpoint... Are you english ?
    – MC68020
    Oct 9, 2018 at 13:55
  • Bear in mind that the word to express the notion "Damn it!" will be translated for the context, but the semantics of it will be different. So, this is situational, and not something you will find in dictionaries. (Japanese is a language where men and women have different speech patterns. :)
    – Lambie
    Sep 6, 2019 at 14:27
  • In the situation you describe, I would yell "Aïe !", which is equivalent to "Ouch!" in English. Sep 28, 2022 at 16:14

8 Answers 8

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As a random cuss it's usually just "merde" or "zut" (or a variety of exclamations that may be specific to one person: my mother's minced oath of choice was "Bateau!"). If you wish to damn "it" (i.e. damn something/someone) specifically, there are various expressions, but none that people would actually say.

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  • Thank you. How do you pronounce "merde" and "zut", and is there a difference for males and females? Sep 15, 2017 at 0:44
  • Pronunciation doesn't show (as far as I know) as much variation between the genders as it does between people of different sociolects. It's going to vary a whole lot from people to people.
    – Circeus
    Sep 15, 2017 at 0:49
  • Thanks. So, what's the pronunciation of those two words, merde and zut? Sep 15, 2017 at 0:56
  • @user8611261, you can hear the pronunciation using google translation: translate.google.fr/#fr/en/zut . In complement \zyt\ \mɛʁd\
    – lemon
    Sep 15, 2017 at 7:32
  • Si je me brule les doigts, je dirais; Ah merde. Mais + 1 quand même. And it means: "Oh shit", which is contextually right in French for "Damn it".
    – Lambie
    Sep 6, 2019 at 14:28
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On ne peut pas se tromper avec un bon vieux "Putain!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSeaDQ6sPs0

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Au diable is probably the most literal option, but its meanings and use vary too much, compared to the suggestions in the other answers.

Note that the options mentioned in the other answers can be combined as:

However, these expressions are rather gross - they more correspond to English fcuk/shit rather than to damn it. One could play on a safer side by using la vache !, which is understood as an euphemism for any of the above.

Remark: Comme @jlliagre a remarqué dans les commentaires, au diable et à la diable ont les sens assez differénts.


Somewhat relevant is this fragment from "Le mariage de Figaro":

LE COMTE — Premièrement, tu ne sais pas l'anglais.
FIGARO — Je sais God-dam.
LE COMTE — Je n'entends pas.
FIGARO — Je dis que je sais God-dam.
LE COMTE — Eh bien ?
FIGARO —: Diable ! c'est une belle langue que l'anglais, il en faut peu pour aller loin. Avec God-dam en Angleterre, on ne manque de rien nulle part. Voulez-vous tâter d'un bon poulet gras ? entrez dans une taverne, et faites seulement ce geste au garçon. (Il tourne la broche.) Goddam ! on vous apporte un pied de boeuf salé sans pain. C'est admirable ! Aimez-vous à boire un coup d'excellent bourgogne ou de clairet ? rien que celui-ci. (Il débouche une bouteille.) God-dam ! on vous sert un pot de bière, en bel étain, la mousse aux bords. Quelle satisfaction ! Rencontrez-vous une de ces jolies personnes, qui vont trottant menu, les yeux baissés, coudes en arrière, et tortillant un peu des hanches ? mettez mignardement tous les doigts unis sur la bouche. Ah ! God-dam ! elle vous sangle un soufflet de crocheteur. Preuve qu'elle entend. Les Anglais, à la vérité, ajoutent par-ci, par-là quelques autres mots en conversant; mais il est bien aisé de voir que God-dam est le fond de la langue; et si Monseigneur n'a pas d'autre motif de me laisser en Espagne...

This gives us another French equivalent (Diable !), but also suggests that there is hardly any French expression that is as univrsal as English God-dam / damnt it.

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    À la diable ! has a very different meaning. I guess you wanted to say Au diable !
    – jlliagre
    Sep 24, 2022 at 16:26
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If you want to avoid the vulgar expressions like "saloperie" , "merde", "putain", "bordel", "chier", "fait chier" (and many worse than these) ... most of them having sexual or scatological connotation (or both, see Freud's Psychosexual Stages of Development).

"Bon sang" it's maybe outdated but everybody can understand it and it's not vulgar at all, nor blasphemous.

And I personally like it as it sounds nice, and have some class.

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  • Pour exprimer la crainte, le dépit ou surtout l'étonnement d'avoir mis les doigts sur un objet imprévu au contact [très] désagréable : Bigre, qu'est-ce cela ?
    – Personne
    Sep 25, 2022 at 9:16
  • Like you said, "Bigre" is used when you are skeptical about something you fear or is astonishing , not when you have just burn yourself...
    – Lionel-fr
    Sep 25, 2022 at 9:48
  • À moins d'être complètement ivre, il ne s'agit pas ici d'une brûlure au troisième degré, mais d'un contact bref, diantre pourrait aussi convenir dans ce contexte.
    – Personne
    Sep 25, 2022 at 14:24
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In Quebec, we say "Maudit!".

You can listen to the pronunciation here : https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/maudit.

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I'd translate "damn it" to "Bordel!". "Putain" is very common, but used like "fuck"

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    Are these different suggestions from those already given? I agree with your answer but it seems duplicata. I encourage you to continue contributing and see the tour and help center, et bienvenue sur French language SE.
    – livresque
    Sep 23, 2022 at 23:51
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Yes there is an equivalent in French, but we cannot use it as easily as in English. I mean, in English you can put "fuck(ing)" before any noun, adjective or verb. In French, unfortunately, we can use it only with "nouns".

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Mince ! Punaise !

It's a minced oath or softened cuss for merde, easily used as damnit with the register still akin to damn, but more like dang or shoot.

In what you described, as others have said, putain ! would be a common reaction to the pain. If I tripped and stubbed my toe while teaching, I hope I would say mince instead of merde, punaise for putain or calme (câl...) in place of câlisse.

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