We can go ahead and wax poetic about why Turkish is such a romantic language. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time we did. There’s a reason why there are so many soap operas in Turkish, after all — Turks address their loved ones with poetic and passionate epithets like “my breath,” “my eyes” and “my life.” But on the flip side, they also hurl Turkish insults at each other, because let’s be real — drama is universal.
There are lots of innocuous things you, as a non-native, could do that might be considered offensive in Turkish culture. For instance, your host (or waiter) might take it personally if you neglect to finish all your food. You could also inadvertently insult someone by rejecting their hospitality or by not taking your shoes off when you enter their house.
That’s not what we came here to talk about in this here article, however. Here are some deliberately offensive Turkish insults for you to use at your own risk. Once you master your basic curse words (and a bit of grammar to keep the whole thing coherent), you can stack them together in infinitely imaginative combinations.
At hırsızı — It’s not entirely intuitive why calling someone a “horse thief” would be one’s go-to insult. But if you ever hear this, don’t mistake it for flattery.
Aya baktım seni gördüm, sana baktım ayı gördüm — “I looked at the moon and saw you; I looked at you and saw a bear.” This is a playful pun that reveals Turkish attitudes toward bears. Calling someone a bear (ayı) is a good way to let them know that they’re a big, dumb ogre.
Dalyarak — Lit. “branch dick.” It’s nice to know that variations of “pencil dick” exist in other languages.
Ecdanını sikiyim — “Fuck your ancestors.” Save this one for when you’re really looking for a fight.
Eşşoğlueşşek — You can probably extrapolate what “son of a donkey” is getting at. It’s a more lighthearted way of telling someone they’re a son of a bitch — and maybe, just maybe, that you love them anyway.
Göt lalesi — They’re not just an asshole; they’re an “ass tulip,” which is somehow worse (and way more evocative).
Hıyar — For whatever reason, Turks don’t think very highly of cucumbers. To call someone a cucumber is to condemn them to the very uncool status of “moron” or “dickhead.”
Hıyarağası — When “cucumber” just won’t do: “cucumber master.”
Kafayı üşüttü — If someone’s lost their mind and they’re getting on your last nerve, you could rightfully say that “they’ve caught a cold in their head.”
Sıçtı Cafer bez getir — “Cafer took a shit; bring a cloth.” You know someone really had to mess up to earn this kind of verbal abuse, but it gets better when you understand who the hell Cafer is. When Turkey’s first president Atatürk founded the Republic of Turkey, he held congresses to make important decisions regarding the new nation’s future. One of these decisions was establishing the national language. When he asked linguists to present arguments and ideas, one fellow by the name of Cafer took to the stage. His arguments were political, however, even though he’d been asked to stick to the linguistics. Atatürk got annoyed and asked that Cafer be removed from the stage. Eventually, poet and satirist Neyzen Tevfik wrote a poem about this, which gave life to this idiom.
Sığır — In Turkish, you can insult someone by calling them any variation of “bear,” “ox” or “donkey” — you know, “insert large, oafish animal here.” We like this one in particular because you’re literally calling someone “beef.”
Toz ol! — “Become dust!” For when you care so little for someone that you’d wish for the disintegration of their corporeal form, this says a lot.
Yarrağımın antifrizi — It’s pretty much a given that every language weaponizes words for genitalia. But have you ever called someone “antifreeze of my dick” before?
Yavşak — There are smarmy creeps, and then there are “newly born fleas.” When your brown-nosing gets to this parasitic level, you might rightfully earn this epithet.
Yürü de ense tıraşını görelim! — Don’t just tell someone to go away. Tell them to “Walk so we can see the haircut on the back of your neck!”