The French word "Bordel" explained

Get prepared to find out everything you need to know about the funny word “Bordel”.

To be more specific, this includes a detailed guide of what it is and how you can use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. And because we care about you, we also sprinkled super useful stuff like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example and more!

If you are interested, you can also find more words pages like this one on this page and all our guides about French words on this page. Wishing you a happy learning!

Table of Contents

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English translation

How to pronounce?

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does bordel mean?


“Bordel” literally means “brothel” and is a common way to say “Fuck” or “Damn” in French. It’s a popular swear word used in daily life.

How to use

“Merde / Putain / Bordel / Fait chier” are used exactly like “Crap / Fuck / Shit / etc.” in English. But we like to make a sentence out of them according to the level of angriness and vulgarity we want.

So the more of “Merde / Putain / Bordel / Fait chier” we use in one sentence and the more pissed we are. And we also often add “Oh” before to make it more dramatic, let’s see how it works…

Vulgar (Just one swear word):

  • Merde. → Shit
  • Putain. → Fuck (Literally: whore)
  • Bordel. → Fuck (Literally: brothel)
  • Fait chier. → It pisses me off (Literally: (it) makes (me) poop)
  • Oh merde. → Oh shit
  • Oh putain. → Oh fuck
  • Oh bordel. →Oh fuck
  • Oh fait chier. → Oh, it pisses me off

Super vulgar (x2 combo):

Super mega vulgar (x3 combo):

  • (Oh) Putain de bordel de merde. → (Oh) Shit fucking bloody hell
  • (Oh) Bordel de putain de merde. → (Oh) Fucking bloody shit

Infinite vulgarity (x4 combo):

Finally, if you really want to express your frustration in formal contexts without using bad swear words, you can use instead:

  • Mince. → Darn
  • Zut. → Heck
  • Flûte. → Heck (Literally: flute)
  • Oh mince. → Oh darn
  • Oh zut. → Oh heck
  • Oh flûte. → Oh heck (Literally: oh flute)

N.B: It’s not “formal” per se but “neutral” and so it won’t be shocking

N.B.2: some translations above are a bit approximative since there is no direct English equivalent, but it reflects the spirit of each possibility as close as possible from the French version.

Funny stuff

French pro trick: sometimes you start to say naturally “Merde” (Shit) but before finishing the first syllable you realize you are in a formal context and that it wouldn’t be appropriate.

So, if you just said “Mmm” you can switch to “Mince” which is not vulgar and has the same meaning → Mmmm…ince.

But if you already said “Merrrr“, instead of finishing the word “Merde” you say “Mercredi” (Wednesday) instead → Mer…credi. In this case people will know you almost said “Merde” but it’s still better than actually saying it.)

Dialogue example

Audio dialogue by French natives

Dialogue audio

Dialogue script

” Bordel ! Il pleut comme vache qui pisse ! “
” Dammit, it’s raining like a peeing cow! “
” Oh non, ça fait chier ! “
” Oh crap! “
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