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15 ways to swear like a Swiss German

You might speak Swiss German, but if you don’t swear in Swiss German, you’re a tourist.

If you are going to swear, then do it in Swiss German. It'll terrify people. Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash
If you are going to swear, then do it in Swiss German. It'll terrify people. Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

Switzerland prides itself on linguistic diversity – and nowhere is that better illustrated than with swearing. 

The most popular swear word in one village or canton may not be known at all a few towns over. 

A callout for readers’ favourite Swiss swearwords from news outlet Blick in 2020 received more than 600 entries, showing the scope of swearing in Switzerland. 

And while this list doesn’t have 600, it does cover some of our favourites. 

By far, the most common theme among these words is idiot or fool. While some are playful, others are particularly harsh. 

Also we haven’t gone into depth on pronunciation, because that’ll often differ from canton to canton – and even from street to street. But if you want a comprehensive guide on how to say most of the following, checkout this link. 


Habasch is the perfect word to use when someone has done something wrong. 

A Habasch is basically someone who is incompetent or wrong, but the word is particularly popular in a workplace context. 

Think of it as the equivalent of the ‘you only had one job!’ jab which is relatively common in English. 

It can also be used for someone who has the wrong opinion on an important matter. 

‘Just so fun to say’: Are these the best Swiss German words to learn?


This one – which means a cheeky or otherwise naughty young boy – is perhaps the funnest to say of all of the words. 

Pronounced ‘Sch-nood-er-goof’, Schnudergoof isn’t particularly nasty or demeaning, and could be thought of as a combination of the English words goofball and rascal. 

Schnure/Schnorre – as in “Halt d’schnorre” (“shut your mouth”)

Translating literally as ‘mouth’ or ‘trap’, Schnure/Schnorre is frequently used in common with ‘halt die…’ – i.e. shut your trap. 

Existing somewhere in between ‘shut up’ and ‘shut the hell up’, it’s best saved for comfortable situations where you know the intended recipient. 


This one is particularly popular in northern Switzerland, especially around Solothurn (although it fades in popularity as soon as you hit the French border). 

Heutröchner basically means ‘good for nothing’ – and will commonly be heard when a bus driver ignores a bus stop. 


As a relatively religious country, at least traditionally, it stands to reason that insults involving religion have found a foothold – as blasphemy-loving English speakers no doubt know. 

The best possible translation is probably ‘goddamnit’. As with pretty much anything in Swiss German, there are loads of variations – including Gopfertoori, Gopfridstüdeli, Gopfertami, Gopferteli. 

From ‘cabbage’ to ‘soft pear’: Ten Swiss-German insults you need to know


Unknown to many Swiss, Pajass is one of the more popular swearwords in the city of Bern. 

Pajass basically means clown, fool, buffoon or joker. This isn’t a particularly heavy swearword, but it shouldn’t be used too lightly either. 

In 2020, it was voted ‘Switzerland’s favourite swearword’ by Blick readers. 


Literally translating to dirty pig, this one is a less than affectionate term for someone who is disgusting. 

Whether it be not washing their hands after the bathroom or failing to brush their teeth, Säuniggel is someone who is just plain gross. 

If you’ve been wearing Säuniggel out, then you can go for Grüsel, which has pretty much the same meaning.

A pig in Herdern, Switzerland

A pig in Herdern, Switzerland. Photo by Pascal Debrunner on Unsplash 


Chotzbrocke literally means a piece or part of vomit, which is of course not a particularly nice idea to think about. 

Calling someone a Chotzbrocke? The word usually means a disgusting or arrogant person who has little respect or care for others. 


This is a particular favourite of ours here at The Local Switzerland – at least in part because it is so difficult to translate. 

Most dictionaries will translate Gaggalari as being clumsy, which is definitely the case, but the word also refers to someone who has a kind of ‘dumb luck’, i.e. fortune keeps smiling on them even though they seem to inelegantly fumble their way through life. 

If you want to describe a clumsy person in a more lovable way, then Lappi is the appropriate term. 

This should not be confused with Gopfertoori, Gopfridstüdeli, Gopfertami, Gopferteli and Gottfridstutz (all listed above), which mean ‘goddamnit’. 

READ MORE: Nine fun Swiss German words without an English translation


Put simply, a Rätschbäse is basically someone who tells the authorities – or anyone who’s listening – if you’ve done something wrong. 

This is perhaps best described by English words like ‘dobber’, ‘squealer’ or ‘rat’. 

Although it could be used in an organised crime context, it is usually a little less serious – i.e. telling the train conductor that you think that person over there doesn’t have a ticket. 

This one is related to a Bünzli or a Chreisellinggsblinker. 


Literally translating as ‘soft pear’, a Birreweich is someone who doesn’t have it all together upstairs. Unlike in English where your brain might be your noggin or your noodle, in Swiss-German your brain is otherwise known as your ‘pear’. 

So if a friend calls you a soft pear, it means your friend thinks your brain is mush – and it also might mean you should get some new friends. 

A bunch of green pears

Soft pear is in fact a Swiss insult – and one you will want to avoid. Photo by Olesia Buyar on Unsplash


This Swiss-German insult – which is also common throughout much of Germany – is similar to the terms ‘bimbo’ or ‘blonde’ in English. This term is reserved for the kind of person who might care a little too much about their appearance and less about pretty much anything else. 

It’s also undoubtedly sexist, as it’s rarely if ever used for men. 

Apparently inspired from the legend of Tusnelda, Tussi entered the Swiss-German and German mainstream vernacular in the 1990s and has stubbornly remained. 

SEE ALSO: Top ten Swiss-German romantic nicknames


Like many Swiss swear words, there is an actual meaning and a colloquial meaning. And also like many Swiss swear words, Schofseckel has an animal origin. 

A Schofseckel – known in some dialects as Schoofseggel – literally means the penis of a ram.

But calling someone a Schofseckel basically means they’re an idiot – and not in a particular endearing way. 


A Totsch is a loveable fool, a simple-minded person who is sweet enough but is as dumb as a bag of hammers.  Think Homer Simpson. 

This one isn’t particularly vicious, so you can use it among those around you – provided of course they have a Homer Simpson moment. 

Put the dirty washing with laundry detergent in the dryer? “Achh, du Totsch!” 

A person in a suit also wearing a floating ring and a snorkel

This is perfectly normal attire for a Totsch. Photo by Daria Rem from Pexels


Chreisellinggsblinker is a great word, both because it is so fun to say and because you’re likely to encounter more than a few in Switzerland. 

A Chreisellinggsblinker is someone who always does something perfectly – and is not at all shy about telling others what they’ve done wrong, while calling attention to their own perfect performances. 

From correcting your spelling in a text message from a few weeks ago to calling out the inaccuracy of mundane details in a story you’re telling over lunch at work, everyone knows a Chreisellinggsblinker when you see one. 

If you’re familiar with the word Bünzli – basically a ‘goody-two-shoes’ in English – a Chreisellinggsblinker is like an über-Bünzli. 

Continuing the Simpsons theme, if Totsch (lovable fool) is Homer, then Chreisellinggsblinker is definitely Lisa Simpson. 

Chreisellinggsblinker is particularly common in the canton of Zurich, although is can be used through much of the region. 

Think we’ve got it wrong or have some of your own favourites? Please let us know in the comments below!

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Why does Swiss German have so many French loan words?

French is often crowned the world’s most beautiful language and has, for centuries, infiltrated Switzerland’s German-speaking region. But why did so many French words end up in Swiss German and which are most commonly used?

Why does Swiss German have so many French loan words?

In the western hemisphere of the 16th century until well into the 19th century, French was considered the world language and courts all over Europe began to emulate the culture made popular by the French nobility.

The French language eventually replaced Latin as the dominant language in science and many Germans figured that it would be easier to adopt what’s already there, rather than spend time finding German language equivalents for scientific terms – much to the detriment of German purists who fought this during the 17th century.

But while much of Europe was embroiled in a game of catch-up with France, the situation was quite different in the Deutschschweiz. The German-speaking part of Switzerland already had an identity of its own, an identity that had as a matter of fact already been intertwined with both the French language and its culture.

For many years, the Swiss had sent a great many mercenaries to serve in the French army up until 1798, while the sons of Bernese patricians were raised in French before taking up administrative posts in French-speaking Vaud (1536 until 1798), then under the rule of Bern. Meanwhile, Solothurn, the resident city of the French ambassador, was almost considered an exclave of France.

Even today, many young people living in German-speaking Swiss cantons travel to the French-speaking part, or Romandy, to work as au pairs and improve their French language skills.

It is not difficult then to see why the Deutschschweiz had an easy time embracing everything French, particularly the cantons bordering the Romandy.

Same, same but different

Though some French language words, known as Gallizismen, that are commonly used in the Deutschschweiz appear to be the same at first glance, they have over time undergone a pronunciation shift and are no longer pronounced in French, but rather in a Swiss German-French mashup dialect. Hence, they are considered both French and Swiss German.

One such example is the word Merci, which you will hear as often as – and in some German-speaking places even more frequently than – the casual Swiss and standard German counterpart Danke.

Unlike the French Merci, which is pronounced MerCI – placing the emphasis on the latter syllable – the Swiss from the Deutschschweiz pronounce the word as MERci, stressing the first syllable instead.

In fact, this is the case with most polysyllabic French words. But there’s more.

In addition to giving French words the Swiss German pronunciation treatment and oftentimes completely forgoing the French accent, some words have also taken on a slightly different meaning.

If you happen to be in a hurry in Switzerland, you’d use the word pressant to express this. While the word in French translates to urgent or pressing, in Swiss German it means to be in a hurry.

In fact, if you’re in a rush, you would say “Ich hans pressant”, rather than the standard German “Ich bin in Eile”.

And when on the road…

If you spot an adult riding a bicycle on the Gehweg or Bürgersteig and reprimand them using the standard German words for pavement, you may be met with a confused (and slightly offended) look.

In German-speaking Switzerland, Trottoir is the word most commonly used for pavement, while the standard German or Hochdeutsch equivalents are seldom heard, if altogether unused.

Likewise, while you’re busy being annoyed that you’ve encountered a rulebreaker – don’t worry, it’s a Swiss thing – remember that using Velo rather than the German alternative Fahrrad may just make you win the argument.

Most commuters living in German-speaking cantons may know that you will be required to pay for a Billet – not a Fahrtkarte – before you head off to find the right Perron, not Plattform, to wait for your train.

In Switzerland, it also makes sense to purchase an Abonnement with the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways), though you’ll also (eventually) get your point across if you ask for a Reisekarte as they would across the Germany-Switzerland border.

READ MORE: 4 things to consider when buying a travel card in Switzerland

Beware of false friends

While the German speakers of Switzerland have a jolly time reinventing the French language to fit their needs, this love for experimenting has also led to a handful of false friends over the years.

Some German-Swiss will fight tooth and nail to convince you that the Swiss German Friseur (or Frisör) is in fact derived from the French language – simply because it sounds French – but this is not the case. French speakers still very much refer to hairdressers as Coiffeur. Ironically, so do many German speakers in Switzerland.

Similarly, the Swiss German favourite Blamage may well have a French twang to it and is often confused as being on loan from the Deutschschweiz’s French-speaking neighbours. Yet, the word – which can loosely be translated to shame or embarrassment – isn’t known to the French.

Handy vocab for on the go

If you’re visiting the German-speaking part of Switzerland from France or the Romandy and find yourself overwhelmed with the gazillion dialects coming at you from every angle, here are some French words you can use on your trip:

Glacé, not Eis (ice cream)

Portemonnaie, not Brieftasche or Geldbörse (wallet)

Couvert – Umschlag or Briefumschlag (envelope)

Duvet – Bettdecke (duvet)

Adieu – Auf Wiedersehen (goodbye)