21 English Words That Sound Dirty In Other Languages (But Aren’t)

Tread carefully with these.
21 English Words That Sound Dirty In Other Languages (But Aren’t)

Linguistically speaking, we live in a complex world. With roughly 7,000 spoken languages existing side by side (and also mingling and influencing each other on a constant basis), there are bound to be some mix-ups — some hilarity ensuing, if you will — some “Damn, did he just say what I thought he said?” You might enjoy living dangerously and risking it all while you’re abroad, but you’ll probably at least enjoy learning about some of the most common English words that are offensive in other languages.

This linguistic phenomenon, which Gizmodo’s Esther Inglis-Arkell dubbed sordophones (literally “dirty-sounding words”), often arise when a totally boring and mundane term in one language sounds a little too much like a bad word in another language. They exist in all kinds of language combinations, and for what it’s worth, there are plenty of foreign-language words that sound dirty in English.

If you’re reading this, it’s presumably because you’re an English speaker and you don’t want to make an embarrassing faux pas in another country. Otherwise, we’ll just assume you’re here for the lulz (but maybe be careful with that one too).

English Words That Are Offensive In Other Languages

lull — sounds like lul in Dutch, which means “penis”

preservative — sounds like préservatif in French, which means “condom”

guile — sounds like geil in German, which means “horny”

cool — sounds like cul, which means “butt” in French and Catalan

kiss — means “pee” in Swedish

Siri — sounds like 尻 (shiri) in Japanese, which means “butt”

puff — means “brothel” in German

cookie — sounds like kuki in Hungarian, which means “small penis” (it comes from kukac, which means “worm”)

Randy — sounds like रंडी (randee) in Hindi, which means “sex worker”

payday — sounds like peidei in Portuguese, which means “farted”

car — sounds like kar in Albanian, which means “penis”

face — sounds like fesse in French, which means “butt”

cut — sounds like kut in Dutch, which means “cunt”

salsa — sounds like 설사 (seolsa) in Korean, which means “diarrhea”

God — sounds like godes in French, which means “dildos”

bit — sounds like bite in French, which means “cock”

pick — sounds like pikk in Norwegian, which means “dick”

pitch — sounds like piç in Turkish, which means “bastard”

mist — means “manure” in German

mushy — sounds like Muschi in German, which means “pussy”

shabby — sounds like 傻屄 (shǎ bī) in Chinese, which means “stupid cunt”

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