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Profanities – Curse Words – Swearing in Finnish

This article is part of a series on swearing. You can read more about the general topic in our root article on swearing. In this article, you can read more about profanities. Profanities are curse words related to religion. The other two common types are swears are related to the sex organs (e.g. vittu) and to excretion (e.g. paska).

In this article, every phrase includes mention of its approximate strength (strong – medium – mild), because each of these have several euphemisms that are milder swears than the original. There is also mention of the function of each phrase. Please note that these are to some extent simplifications.

1. Helvetti – Hell

A common word to be used in swears is helvetti aka hell. This swear word can be alleviated by using any of the following less aggressive alternatives: helkkari, helkatti, helkutti, helskutti, hiivatti or hemmetti.

Strength Function Swear
Strong Surprise Mitä helvettiä!
Medium Surprise Mitä helkkaria!
Medium Surprise Mitä helskuttia!
Strong Frustration Voi helvetti!
Medium Frustration Voi hiivatti!
Medium Frustration Voi helkutti!
Medium Frustration Helvetti soikoon!
Strong Intensifier Helvetin hyvä.
Medium Intensifier Helkkarin kallis.
Strong Modifier Helvetin bussi.
Strong Persuasion Totta helvetissä!
Medium Persuasion Totta hiivatissa!
Medium Persuasion Totta helkkarissa!
Medium Persuasion Totta hemmetissä!
Medium Forbidding Älä helkatissa!
Medium Forbidding Älä helskutissa!
Strong Order Painu helvettiin! (pic)
Medium Order Painu helkuttiin!
Medium Disgust Hyi helkatti!

2. Jumala Jumalauta Luoja – God

Jumala means “god”, and jumalauta is a pretty strong swear word. Jumaliste is a less strong version of jumalauta. The word luoja means “creator” and is a mild swear word.

Strength Function Swear
strong Anger Jumalauta!
medium Frustration Jumaliste!
mild Frustration Voi luoja!
mild Frustration Voi jumala!
mild Frustration Voi herra jumala!
strong Intensifier Älä jumalauta rupea!
mild Order Ole luojan tähden hiljaa!

3. Perkele – Devil

Everybody’s favorite swear word, especially when over accentuating the r: perrrrrkele! The curse word perkele has developed a symbolic status: it’s seen as a sign of Finnishness; part of the national stereotype, but not in a bad way. It gets linked with sisu: the strength to stoicly handle  any difficult situation with determination, tenacity and bravery.

Milder euphemisms for perkele are perkule, perhana, pentele and sometimes even perjantai.

Strength Function Swear
Strong Frustration Perkele!
Strong Modifier Perkeleen idiootti!
Medium Frustration Voi perkele!
Mild Frustration Voi perhana!
Mild Frustration Voi perkule!
Mild Frustration Ei perkele!
Mild Intensifier Perhanan hyvin sanottu.
Mild Emphasis Perkule kun on kiire!
Mild Surprise Mitä perkuletta!
Mild Emphasis Kuka pentele tämän teki!
Mild Intensifier Penteleen hyvä onni.
Medium Intensifier Perkeleen paljon
Very mild Frustration Voi perjantai!

4. Saatana – Satan

In addition to perkele in the previous section, we can also use saatana to mean the devil. Milder euphemisms of saatana include samperi, saakeli and saamari. There’s also the word piru, which I’m adding to the table below because it also means the devil.

Ai saatana” is an interesting expression, as it can express among other things anger, disgust, surprise and admiration. I’ve labeled it as “surprise” below.

Strength Function Swear
Strong Frustration Voi saatana!
Mild Frustration Voi samperi!
Medium Frustration Voi saakeli!
Strong Emphasis Saatanan duunarit!
Medium Intensifier Saamarin tylsä ilta.
Medium Intensifier Saakurin hankala.
Mild Intensifier Samperin hankala.
Medium Intensifier Saakelin tyhmä.
Strong Anger Mitä saatanaa se sinuun kuuluu!
Medium Surprise Ai saamari!
Medium Surprise Ai saakuri!
Strong Surprise Ai saatana!
Medium Frustration Saakeli soikoon!
Mild Frustration Piru vieköön!
Mild Frustration Voi piru!
Mild Intensifier Pirun hyvä.

5. Hitto – Damn (Hiisi)

Hitto is a pretty milk swear word. It’s based on the word hiisi, which means some kind of scary mythical monster. As such, it’s not based on the Bible like the other words on this page: it goes back to other forms of worship Finns had before Christianity. It has meant an ancient place of worship (see Päivi’s comment below the article). Painu hiiteen means “go to hell”, hiisi vieköön means “may the devil take it”.

I’m adding hiivatti to this section, though it is unclear to me if this word is derived from helvetti or from hiisi.

Strength Function Swear
Mild Frustration Voi hitto!
Medium Frustration Voi hiivatti!
Mild Frustration Hitto soikoon!
Mild Frustration Hiisi vieköön!
Mild Frustration Hitto kun väsyttää!
Mild Surprise Mitä hittoa!
Mild Intensifier Tuli hiton kalliiksi.
Mild Order Painu hiiteen!
Mild Order Häivy hittoon siitä!
Mild Persuasion Totta hiivatissa!

That’s it for profanities! I hope you found this article useful!

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The original, Pre-Christian “Hiisi” was actually a place: a sacred grove, place of sacrifice, or burial ground. Only after the coming of Christianity it became to mean an evil creature, a small demon of sorts.

Inge (admin)

That definitely makes sense in the “painu hiiteen” phrase! Thanks 🙂