The French word "Merde" revealed

Get ready to learn everything you have to know about the funny French word “Merde”.

To be more specific, this includes a full definition of what it is and how you can use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. And because we want to help you on your learning journey, we also added super useful stuff like dialogue example, slow pronunciation audio and more!

If you are interested, you will also find more of these words guides like this one on this page and the directory of all our French words guides on this page. Wish you a good learning!

Table of Contents

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English translation

Pronunciation example

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

Merde meaning


“Merde” is the common way to say “Shit” in French. It’s a very popular swear word used in daily life.

How to use it

“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):

  • (Oh) Putain de merde. → (Oh) Fucking shit
  • (Oh) Bordel de merde. → (Oh) Fucking shit
  • (Oh) Fait chier putain. → (Oh) Fuck, it pisses me off
  • (Oh) Fait chier bordel. → (Oh) Fuck, it pisses me off
  • (Oh) Merde, fait chier. → (Oh) Fucking shit
  • (Oh) Putain, fait chier. → (Oh) Fucking shit

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):

  • (Oh) Fait chier putain de bordel de merde. → This shit pisses me off bloody fucking hell
  • (Oh) Fait chier bordel de putain de merde. → This shit pisses me off bloody fucking hell
  • (Oh) Putain de bordel de merde fait chier. → Bloody fucking hell, this shit pisses me off
  • (Oh) Bordel de putain de merde fait chier. → Bloody fucking hell, this shit pisses me off

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 fact

French pro trick: sometimes you start to say naturally “Merde” (Shit) but before finishing de 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 with audio dialogue

Audio dialogue from French people

Dialogue audio

Dialogue transcription

” Désolé, je suis en retard
” Sorry, I’m late “
C’est trop tard, le train est parti “
” Too late, the train left “
” Oh merde ! “
” Oh shit! “
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