Us Finns are known for our ballsy swearwords. Even if you don't speak our beautiful language, words like "Perkele" (evoked with extreme gusto) are instantly recognisable as such. Often these words are used as filler words in sentences when nothing else comes to mind. For example, "Perkele, ootpa kaunis tänään" which would be translated as "God damn, you're beautiful today" (yes, that is a compliment). Nevertheless, when they are spoken with just the right tone of voice, they unmistakably tell the tale of extreme pissed-offness.

Here is a list of the most common swearwords of the Finnish language. Certainly enough to get you by should you ever get lost in Europe, and end up here in the wild north. First a list of the swearwords and curses, and then a list of common invectives.

Swearwords and curses
  • Perkele
    The most famous and potent of them all. Leterally means the devil. His name is shouted whenever something goes wrong, as if to lay blame on some higher, malevolent force. The strong R in the middle makes this one a particularly powerful word. Commonly abbreviated as "prkl" in ICQ and E-Mail messages.
  • Saatana
    The localised version of "Satan". Used in the same context as "Perkele" when an alternative is desired.
  • Helvetti
    Literally means "Hell". Once again, used as an alternative to "Perkele" and "Saatana".
  • Hitto
    A mild one. The etymology of this one isn't quite clear. However, I'd guess it is of biblical theme as there is a common saying "Hitto vieköön", which is very similar to "Piru vieköön" (See: Piru). Not used much, since it isn't very powerful.
  • Vittu
    A slang term for "Vagina". Equivalent to "Pussy" or "Cunt", but most often used in the same context as "Fuck". Probably most overused word in Finnish. Particularly favoured among teens, who typically use the word 2 or 3 times in a sentence. For example: "Vittu ku tää vitun koulu on niin vitun perseestä" which translates to "Oh fuck this fucking school is so fucked-up".
  • Kyrpä
    A slang word for "Penis". Equivalent to "Dick" or "Cock". Not used much, which makes it particularly useful for a mild shock effect, as people haven't become quite jaded to it yet. It has the same effect as "Perkele" due to the strong R.
  • Perse - Note: originally noded by amsaarel, assimilated at the request by The Management.
    Means "Arse". Can be used in many ways:
    "Voi perse": "Oh arse"
    "Homma meni perseelleen" : "Things didn't work out"
    "Olet ihan perseestä" : "You are totally from the arsehole"
    "Perseennuolija" : "Cock-sucker" (see: Perseennuolija under "Invectives" below)

    Gordian notes: Once again we have the strong 'R' in the middle, but usually the word gets overused during childhood. Therefore, using it later on would be mild and perhaps slightly humorous (depends on the present company of course).

  • Hemmetti
    A mild one. I have no idea about its etymology, but I think it was invented as a way of saying "Helvetti" without really saying it. Can be rather safely used in casual company to express mild distaste. Can also be used in the expression "No hemmetti!" to express surprise.
  • Saakeli
    Same thing as "Hemmetti" but used as an alternative to "Saatana". A variant "Samperi" also exists. Both of these are very mild.
  • Perhana
    Pretty much the same thing as "Hemmetti", but used as a substitute for "Perkele". Also, a variant "Perkule" exists.
  • Jumalauta
    A combination of the words "Jumala" and "Auta", so a decent translation would be "God help me". However, it is mainly used in the same context as "God damn".
  • Paska
    Shit. Though in Finnish, saying mere "Paska" sounds rather pathetic. More suitable for kids, really. Mainly used as an adjective, for example "Tosi paskamainen ilma", which means "What a shitty weather".
  • Piru
    A mild version of the "Devil". A favourite amongst old people, but rarely used by us youngsters. Often used in the expression "Piru vieköön" to say that the devil should take away the person who is causing trouble.

It is also quite common to use these words together to form a burst of cursing. One often heard expression is "Ei Vittu Saatana", which directly translates to "No Fuck Satan". It is used things to really wrong.


Invectives
Unsurprisingly, most Finnish invectives hang around the subject of anatomy and sexuality.
  • Mulkku, mulkero
    Dick. Used in the same context as "jerk" or "asshole". Closely related to this is the expression "Munapää" (Dickhead).
  • Kusipää
    Direct translation would be "piss-head", but used in the same context as "asshole". You might sometimes encounter the expression "Tolla kaverilla virtaa kusi väärään suuntaan", which means "That guy has piss flowing in the wrong direction".
  • Runkkaaja, runkkari
    Wanker. Not usually used to imply masturbation. Used in much the same way as "Mulkku". Ofter heard in conjunction with "Vittu" to form the invective "Vitun runkkari".
  • Huora, horo
    A lady of negotiable affection and elastic sexual morals. That is, a whore. I'd classify this as rather offensive towards both males and females. Only use it on male friends as a raunchy joke when you are completely certain they know you well enough to know you're joking. And never on women.
  • Homo
    Probably doesn't need much explanation. Used exactly as in other languages. There also exists an expression "Ruskean reiän ritari", translated as "Knight of the Brown Hole".
  • Perseennuolija
    Directly translates to "Ass licker", but used in the same context as "Cock sucker".

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