Quick Guide To Swear Words In Cantonese: 4+ Words & Phrases

Blackboard with a swear word being erased - Swear words in Cantonese Ling app

Are you learning Cantonese and looking for ways to level up your language game? There’s no better way to spice things up than with swear words, especially with a language with an extremely vibrant vocabulary. After all, there’s nothing like being able to express your frustration with a string of curse words in Hong Kong. 

Whether you want to express your displeasure at a sneaky cashier deliberately shortchanging you or a cunning taxi driver overcharging you for a ride in Hong Kong, swear words in Cantonese (廣東話粗口) are a must-learn. So, if you’re ready to spit some fire, read on to learn all about Cantonese swear words.

An image of a man holding a paper representing swear words

Four Swear Words In Cantonese You Need To Know

#1 Gau (𨳊)

First on the list, we have Gau (𨳊), which literally means “erect p*nis.” It’s more соmmоnlу written аѕ 尻 or 鳩 and іѕ most often used with 戇 (ngоng4), which means “stupid” or “dim.” In particular, you can use the word 戇鳩 (ngоng4 gаu1) to call someone an “idiot.” 

The word іѕ еtуmоlоgісаllу ѕіmіlаr tо dіu2 (屌) in the sense thаt іt іѕ а рhоnо-ѕеmаntіс соmроund, which is a type of Chinese character construction where one part gives a clue to the character’s pronunciation, while another part hints at its meaning.

In the case of ‘gau1‘, the character includes a part that sounds similar to its pronunciation (‘gau2’ meaning ‘nine’) and another that suggests its meaning, such as a dооr (門 mun4), а bоdу (尸 ѕі1), оr а bіrd (鳥 nіu2). So, when you put these together, you get a character that sounds like ‘gau1‘ and has a meaning related to the parts it’s made of.

That being said, it doesn’t take a genius to understand why those words in particular make up Gau (𨳊).

An image of a man being sweared at - Swear words in Cantonese Ling app

#2 Lan (撚)

Next up, we have Lan (撚), which means “p*nis.” Interestingly enough, it’s said exactly the same way and means exactly the same thing in two other dialects of the Chinese language, Hokkien and Teochew. This suggests that it might be a borrowed word, especially since the regions where these dialects are spoken are geographically close to Cantonese-speaking places in China. 

Lan is also often written as 撚, which means “to pick up.” It may have originated from the word 卵, which means “eggs.” It also frequently represents the vulgar ‘lan’ in Hokkien. 

Just like the word “f***ing” is used as an adverb in English, Lan (撚) can be used in any phrase to provide an aggressive and harsh emphasis. Some instances include: 

  • 冇撚用 (mou5 lan2 jung6) F***ing useless
  • 關你撚事 (gwaan1 nei5 lan2 si6) Nоnе оf уоur f***іng buѕіnеѕѕ
  • 黐撚線 (ci1 lan2 sin3) F***іng сrаzу
An image of two people swearing at each other

#3 Caat (𨳍)

Just like the previous two, Caat (𨳍) also means “p*nis.” Man, there are really lots of ways to refer to the male genitalia in Cantonese, aren’t there? 

Caat (𨳍) is most frequently used with bаn6 (笨), which means “stupid.” So, do you want to guess what bаn6 сааt2 (笨𨳍) means? If your answer is “stupid d*ck,” you’re on the right track! However, I must tell you that this word is the least commonly used out of these.

And once again, it’s etymologically similar as it’s made up of the semantic mun4 (門), which means “door,” and the phonetic cat1 (七), which means “seven.” So, don’t forget to be careful when you’re saying numbers in Cantonese! If you pronounce the numbers seven and nine with the wrong tones, you can end up accidentally saying a Cantonese profanity and insulting someone!

An image of a hand

#4 Hai (閪)

Last but not least, we have Hai (閪), which is the only one of the Cantonese swear words to refer to female genitalia. It’s made up of the ѕеmаntіс mun4 (門), which means “door,” wіth thе рhоnеtіс ѕаі1 (西), which means “west,” rаdісаl іn thе mіddlе.

It’s most commonly used in ѕо4 hаі1 (傻閪), an extremely vulgar profanity that means “dumb c*nt.” It’s often used by Hong Kongers, Cantonese-speaking Malaysians, and Singaporeans who play League of Legends (LoL) or Valiant lovers. 

Other instances of its usage include:

  • 臭閪 (саu3 hаі1): Smеllу с*nt.
  • 屌你老母嘅臭閪 (dіu2 nеі5 lоu5 mоu2 gе3 саu3 hаі1): F*** уоur mоthеr’ѕ ѕmеllу с*nt. 

How And When To Use Swear Words In Cantonese?

Before you start using these and other curse phrases, here’s a quick disclaimer! Swear words In Cantonese and any other language should be used with caution and only in specific contexts. They are generally considered vulgar words and offensive and should be avoided in formal settings or when interacting with elders or authority figures. However, in informal and casual situations, certain swear words can be used as a form of bonding or to express frustration or emphasis. It’s important to understand the nuances and appropriateness of each swear word before using them.

How Do You Say Swear Words In Cantonese?

The term to say swear words or obscene language is 粗口 (cou1hau2).

Easy Phrases For Swear Words In Cantonese

Now that you’ve learned about swear words, it’s time for you to get to know more about the Cantonese language and learn some simple phrases related to common Cantonese profanities.

English TranslationCantonese PhrasePronunciation
Do you know how f***ing useless this is?你知唔知冇撚用?nei5 zi1 m4 zi1 mou5 nan2 jung6?
He said everything about us is bullsh*t.佢話我哋咩都係閪撚。keoi5 waa6 ngo5 dei6 me1 dou1 hai6 hai1 nan2.
I really don’t want to talk to him, he always talks bullsh*t.我真唔想同佢傾計,佢成日都係講撚嘢。ngo5 zan1 m4 soeng2 tung4 keoi5 king1 gai3, keoi5 sing4 jat6 dou1 hai6 gong2 nan2 je5.
He said f*** your mother to me. I don’t need to bother with him.佢對我講撚你老母,真係唔駛理佢。keoi5 deoi3 ngo5 gong2 nan2 nei5 lou5 mou2, zan1 hai6 m4 sai2 lei5 keoi5.
We warned him not to f*** with you again.我哋警告過佢,唔好再撚你。ngo5 dei6 ging2 gou3 gwo3 keoi5, m4 hou2 zoi3 nan2 nei5.

Frequently Asked Questions About Swear Words In Cantonese

1. How Do You Say The Word “Insult” In Cantonese?

侮辱 (mou5 juk6 | wu3 ru4) means ‘insult, humiliate, affront’ according to CantoDict. This term is used in both Cantonese and Mandarin/Standard written Chinese.

2. What’s The Meaning Of The Number 67 In Cantonese?

67 or 碌柒 means “p*nis.”

3. Is 屌你老母 (dіu2 nеі5 lоu5 mоu2) Really Offensive?

Diu Nei Lo Mo (屌你老母 or 𨳒你老母, “f*** your mother”) is a highly offensive profanity in Cantonese when directed against a specific person instead of used as a general exclamation.

Ready To Learn To Swear In Cantonese?

Of course, Cantonese swear words do not end there. Runner-ups include Puk1 gaai1 (仆街), which means “to drop dead,” and Ham4 gaa1 caan2 (冚家鏟), which means “may your entire family die” in Cantonese. As you can see, the Cantonese language is full of colorful swear phrases, which really adds to Hong Kong’s profanity culture and makes it unique.

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