All about the French phrase "Bordel de merde"

Ready to discover everything you need to know about the basic sentence “Bordel de merde”?

Are included a detailed explanation of what it is and how you can use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. But, we also sprinkled useful stuff like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example and more!

Oh and if you are interested, you will also find more of these sentences explained on this page and all our French words explained on this page. Wishing you a happy learning!

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French to English

How to pronounce

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean?


“Bordel de merde” is the common way to say “Holy shit” in French. It’s a very popular expression.

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):

Super vulgar (x2 combo):

Super mega vulgar (x3 combo):

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.

Fun facts

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.)

Example in a story with translation

Now, let’s see a complete example of this idiom in a story with slow French audio and the English translation below.
Un cycliste maladroit
A clumsy cyclist
Léa traverse la route…
Léa crosses the road…
Soudain, un cycliste la percute et ils tombent tous les deux !
Suddenly, a cyclist hits her and they both fall!
Le cycliste se relève rapidement et court vers Léa…
The cyclist quickly gets up and runs towards Léa…
Cyclist:   Oh mon Dieu ! Vous allez bien ?
Oh my God! Are you ok?
Léa:   Euh… oui, je… je vais bien. Je crois…
Uh… yes, I… I’m fine. I think…
Cyclist:   Oh non, je vois que vous êtes blessée !
Oh no, I see that you’re hurt!
Léa:   Rien de grave, c’est juste des égratignures.
Nothing serious, it’s just scratches.
Cyclist:   Je suis tellement désolé ! Je ne vous ai pas vue !
I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you!
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