I Love Hindi Swear Words

16 Sep

There’s something about cussing in Hindi that gives me immense satisfaction. I think it manages to convey just the right amount of viciousness mixed with nonchalance.

I find swearing in English to be a bit too conversational. Nothing bears this out more, I think, than the fact that I get increasingly potty mouthed when tipsy. I’m a happy drunk, a friend to the world, garrulous and cheerful right up to the moment I head to the trashcan/bathroom to throw up the last vestiges of my unnatural bonhomie. There’re several trashcans scattered around the world that wish most sincerely that they’d never met me. And all of this is carried out with any amount of cussing. I don’t mean anything by it at all. As is borne out by the silly grin taking up half my face.

So what’s a girl to do when she wants to show you she means business? See, I have very specific criteria for cussing: I need something that will convey the information that I’m not to be trifled with, but refrains from giving the impression that I was brought up in the gutter. My parents, various teachers and I spent quite a lot of time and effort turning me into a lady, or at least giving me the semblance of … er, ladyhood. I have to say it wasn’t a very enjoyable process because it basically had just one rule – Don’t Do Anything – but I stuck to it and I’m not about to let some passing irritant take that away from me at this late date. Now, while I speak quite a few Indian languages other than Hindi, all of them uniformly sound pretty darn vicious when you start swearing.

So, Hindi. It can be sufficiently conversational as Suketu Mehta pointed out in his book, Maximum City:

I missed saying “bhenchod” to people who understood it. It does not mean “sister fucker.” That is too literal, too crude. It is, rather, punctuation, or emphasis, as innocuous a word as “shit” or “damn.” The different countries of India can be identified by the way each pronounces this word – from the Punjabi “bhaanchod” to the thin Bambaiyya “pinchud” to the Gujarati “bhenchow” to the Bhopali elaboration “bhen ka lowda.” Parsis use it all the time, grandmothers, five-year-olds, casually and without any discernable purpose except as filler: “Here, bhenchod, get me a glass of water.” “Arre, bhenchod, I went to the bhenchod bank today.”

To the above list I’d like to add “BHING-chudi”, which is what my Mangalorean-by-way-of-Kuwait friend used to call it. Say it with the right emphasis and it’ll probably clear your sinus. Amit Varma, on the other hand, prefers to call it “punctuation“:

Delhi spoils my tongue. For most Delhi males, the most common bit of punctuation is “bhenchod.” They can’t say a sentence without “bhenchod” being part of it, sometimes more than once. Arre, lunch ka time ho gaya, bhenchod, they’ll say. Bhenchod daaru mein dum hai, yaar, they’ll inform you. Bhenchod kal flight ka kya time hai, bhenchod?

I wonder if they proposed to their loved ones like that. Abay bhenchod, shaadi karogi mujhse, they could ask. Aap bahut bhenchod sundar lag rahi ho.

However you prefer to think of it, say that very same word to some lowlife who tries to pinch your bum in a crowded theater and voila! He slinks away, message received loud and clear. What’s not to love?

But my favorites are two phrases that I’ve never used in all my life. One is absolutely misogynistic, the other is outstandingly racist and they’re both the most hilarious things I’ve ever heard:

Maati Mili, Jharoo Phirri” – I’d come across the phrase maati mili, which literally means “mixed with dirt” i.e. a fallen woman, in some of the older and drearier Bollywood movies. Some mother in law type would fling some hapless “pure at heart but victim of circumstance” type onto the ground and tell her never to show her face around that neighborhood ever again. But the sheer genius of it all escaped me until a Pakistani friend of mine handed me the addendum jharoo phirri i.e. “swept with a broom”.

I just find that image so indescribably hilarious. “That person is so fallen,” I picture myself saying, “that she’s not just mixed with dirt but swept over with a broom as well!” Now that‘s what I call fallen. At that point I expect a whole troop of gerbils to come dancing out of her ass or something.

Kala kaloota, baingan loota” – The movie was called Bhaji on the Beach and it was directed by Gurinder Chadha long before she found success with Bend it Like Beckham, subsequently making the acquaintance of Aishwarya Rai and deciding the time was ripe to murder the sensibilities of two separate film cultures with the masterpiece (in how not to make a movie) that was Bride and Prejudice.

Sorry, I’m still bitter about the 10 bucks I spent for that piece of crap. It could have bought me at least two over-brewed house blends at a Starbucks, you know.

Anyway, I really hope all of you’ve seen the movie because otherwise I’m just about to spoil a lovely bit of filmmaking for you. Ready? It’s that scene where everybody finds out that the Indian girl playing tour guide has been dating (by which I mean “busy getting knocked up by”) the good looking black guy. At that point, my all time favorite Zohra Sehgal steps up to the plate with characteristic elan and breaks the silence by saying something along the lines of, “Hai hai, yeh kala kaloota baingan loota! Tujhe aur koi nahin mila?”

Rough translation: “Good grief, this blackie who’s so black it’s like he looted an eggplant! Couldn’t you find someone else?”

For the non-desi amongst you, I should probably specify that this is not something that we cooked up just for black people. While I don’t know the origins of the phrase and I have no idea what a “kaloota” is (does anybody know?), apart from Bhaji on the Beach, I’ve only ever heard Indians and Pakistanis use it in connection with other South Asians.

But I was in love. I don’t know if I’ll ever use it, but the idea of looting an eggplant is simply classic. Who comes up with these things? The Japanese have their haiku. We desis prefer to swear. We all have our art forms.


Posted by on September 16, 2007 in Life, Personal


47 responses to “I Love Hindi Swear Words

  1. apu

    September 17, 2007 at 12:03 am

    well, well. this blog is rapidly becoming more and more educational, isn’t it. First the reel on hindi movie sleaze, now a primer on swearing. i must visit more often 🙂

    personally, my favourites are some bengali gaalis that a close friend taught me years ago… and no, i am not repeating them here 🙂

  2. Jimut

    September 17, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Hit upon your blog today and this is the 2nd post that I’ve read so far…much better I must say. Guess even I love anything to do with swearing 😉
    “Kaloota” on its own doesn’t mean anything. It is used exclusively as an accentuating suffix ( if I may call it so) to “Kala”. Also it is almost always used to describe someone’s complexion ( or rather the lack of it ).
    It may be called a loose reference to soot, which is obviously black.
    A somewhat similar example in English would be “Pitch Dark” or “Pitch Black” although “pitch” by itself has several meanings.

  3. Jimut

    September 17, 2007 at 8:22 am

    on 2nd thoughts, the one’s you have discussed can’t be termed as “swear words”. Idioms and Phrases in Hindi would be more appropriate.

    How I love being someone’s grammar teacher 😉

  4. Amrita

    September 17, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Apu – Stick with me baby, and I’ll turn you into a loafer yet 😀 and hey, come on, teach me!

    Jimut – well, it’s name calling all the same so I think it qualifies! 🙂

  5. DesiGirl

    September 17, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    only you…..

  6. anangbhai

    September 17, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    On that note….

    I have no idea what the hell this is supposed to be.

  7. Tanay

    September 18, 2007 at 3:58 am

    Amrita, am almost done with Maximum City, yes it was indeed interesting to read that ‘behenchod’ word right in the starting of the book. Also, another book comes to my mind that I read recently, guess you have read ‘English August’, how the story starts with Drubo and hazzar fucked.

    For comment #3, when you learn about the new cussology, from Apu pass on those to me. Knowledge transfer is important in life 🙂

    If you remember about a post on DC, ‘Iron Maiden Concert @ B’lore’ by Su. Su is my cousin sister, she, her friends and batchmates have their own group ‘loaferloungers’..I liked that name, gives a totally diff pic of these junta of what they are in real life and Web 2.0. I asked them the reason, answer, chumma fun… Now don’t ask what chumma is 😉

    Another one I heard of late from a Panju friend, ‘gaand maain gudda hai tau’, then you have the general filler words.

  8. Amrita

    September 19, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    DG – given up on me already? 😀

    Anangbhai – yeah I’ve seen that. Presumably its a big hit in the Brit uni circuit? *shrugs*

    Tanay – i didnt know she was your cousin 🙂 A family that blogs together, huh? Thanks for the Punju bit, all the ones I know are a lot more crude than that one! And Apu hasnt yet passed it on but when she does, I’ll definitely send it over to you, lol!

  9. aMmAr

    September 19, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Amrita your posts are so interesting that you should write at least 2 posts a day. I am not asking much or am I ?

    By the way the youtube vdo that anangbhai linked in his comments is a very popular song by a main stream rock star Ali Hamza. Bhenchod the song was a sensation in Pakistan after its release.

  10. prodigy

    September 20, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Come on guys bengali and hindi words when spoken r so weak!

    Punjabi takes the crown by far when it comes to cursing! its the most vicious language when used in an abusive way! so many words sentences phrases all hardcore stuff!

    for me a curse has to be in punjabi for it to hav any effect on me all other languages r so harmless

  11. Terri

    September 20, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Funny you mention it, but the only memory I have of Bhaji on the Beach is Zohra Sehgal’s line. It’s stuck in my head after all these years. I hope I never use it.

  12. Amrita

    September 22, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Ammar – reham karo! 😀 And thanks for the info re: Behenchod. I always wondered what it was.

    Prodigy – I dont know about bengali but punjabi always makes me want to laugh for some reason. Maybe it was coz I grew up around punjabis who’d cuss very casually so it doesn’t really sting when i hear it.

    Terri – god, I hope i dont use it either. But wasnt she great in that scene? I’ll never forget the look on her face or the inflection of her voice. 😀

  13. prodigy

    September 28, 2007 at 5:35 am

    Amrita i think ur referring to casual swearing! so i dont think uv experienced proper extreme abuse targeted at ones parents and family members!! when u hear that! then believe me u wont be laughing after that!! the mere sound of the words and the way they are said with force creates such an impact! and obviously their meaning ! its very disturbing! but yea some curses can be used in a funny way for example when they are dubbing in english films thats done deiberately to make ppl laugh! & of course u must understand the meaning of the hardcore abuse too!

    swearing in english is not bad but it has to be english slang used in the UK that is proper swearing not the american english thats too limited!! but only after punjabi

    ill giv u 3 example the links r below! punjabi ones

    one english one! its funny!

  14. amarGill

    September 28, 2007 at 6:25 am

    Fantastic links prodigy! I am punjabi myself too i’m not being biased here! but punjabi absolutely kills it! ill giv one more link jst to add to it! bear in mind the girls voice is done in a squeaky voice on purpose in this vid! but the 2 men in this vid giv some of the most awesome abuse in punjabi ! u will feel it ! u may not understand all of it if ur not punjabi but u will get some of it! its proper hardcore! one of the best! but u gotta understand it!!nothing like it!

  15. prodigy

    September 28, 2007 at 6:50 am

    cheers amar my post just got deleted!!!!!whats going on! i’ll put it up once more!

  16. prodigy

    September 28, 2007 at 7:35 am

    Amrita check my links out below! some hardcore punjabi abuse! u gotta understand punjabi curses too! the way they are said and spoken creates such an impact! the sheer sound of them and of course their meaning above all when used as sexual curses targetted at family members !they can hav several different meanings and all of them are as offensive! punjabi can be used in a funny way too when their used for dubbing english films or something! below r the links for some punjabi abuse!

  17. amar009

    September 28, 2007 at 8:24 am

    Great links prodigy I am a punjabi & without being biased punjabi cursing just kills it! if u come down my area! we use such curses that wud even make the satan feel ashamed! swearing in english is bad but only after punjabi and im talking about UK english not american thats too limited here r 2 links one for english (which is hilarious & the other one for the great punjabi

  18. Amrita

    September 30, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Hey Prodigy & Amar – thanks for the links 🙂 Prodigy, your post wasn’t deleted, my blog automatically holds responses that contain links for moderation is all. In case its spam, y’know? It’s up there now.

    I grew up in Delhi so yeah I’ve heard plenty of Punjabi cussing but somehow I still find it funny. even the serious kind. For some reason, the UP-wallahs always sounded more ferocious – like, they were genuinely mad while the Punjabis always sounded like they were more about being mad than the matter at hand. At least that’s what it sounded like to me. Maybe I just knew nicer Punjabis than UPwallahs? It’s possible 🙂

  19. vijay

    October 1, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    LOOOL!!! i luv that link amar for the english one!! the f*ck documentary! where that guy talks about the word being international! and the way he used it!! it was class!!

  20. vijay

    October 1, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    to be honest if u swore in hindi or punjabi or marathi or any asian language! to a gora! it really wudnt hav any effect! because he wudnt understanda thing so it wud lose its impact! unfortunately our languages r not international like english! where the majority wud know ! hindi and punjabi are the same for me! more or less the same words! punjabi may hav more variety but thats about it !

  21. Amrita

    October 2, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Hey Vijay – yeah I guess thats true 🙂 otoh they might think you were calling them names even if you werent if you keep using your own language around them

  22. vijay

    October 2, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    I guess thats the difference between english and all other languages! is that english is international! they wud know how nasty a word is if said in english! !they know what it means !because its all accessible everywhere! !!thats the goras advantage!!

  23. vijay

    October 2, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    but having said that our swearing is right up there too ! it may not be international but we like it coz its our language! i dont know if youv come down to london! over here swearing in hindi and punjabi is so common in normal conversation esp sexual curses! u will hear words like madarchod kanjari, gashti, randi , phuddi , chholla everywhere! some ppl i know they dont mind their kids using the odd swear word in hindi or punjabi but surprisingly if u swear in english that really upsets them:)

  24. vijay

    October 22, 2007 at 4:48 am

    a lot pakistani guys i know i don’t how they do it! they do dubbings of videos in punjabi and urdu they hav such talent for swearing !

  25. khamkhwa

    November 11, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    well! well! well!…what a letdown…seriously. i was hoping for the completion of your best seller by now and find you have come to the level of salim chauhan….it’s funny world.

  26. Tejas

    November 13, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    In Uttar Pradesh, I heard a very different gaali…Betichod!! I found it funny how bus drivers there used to stop in the middle of a street just to shout swear words to each other. 😀

  27. saaki

    November 28, 2007 at 6:30 am

    If u’ve travelled all over central and northern india as i have then u’d have come across a variety of lingo in cursing.

    And btw i’d like to mention a correction , if u hear Punjabi’s saying bhenchod…its more like “Pencho ” rather than bhaanchod…the accent and the way u say it makes all the difference. Moreover “Gashti ” is a word also predominant in J& K, say my friends from Jammu.After living for a couple of my student years in Bhopal, i’d like to say that the bus conductors and auto wallahs of bhopal dish out curses at the rate of several per minute and each curse at least 4-5 long 😀

    Bhen ka lowda is shortened to ” bhenkada” and Maa k laowda to ” Maakda”
    There was once a wikipedia page titled “bhopali bakar”. But it seems to have been removed now.It not only had peculiar swear words but also the very hilarious Bhopali language which was often used by soorma bhopali in old Hindi movies.
    The Origin of Betichod is basicaly from Jabalpur in MP , where its common for most people to utter this filler.

    I was UP when i heard another very strange yet peculiar gaali:
    “Lowda lehsun”..its used in the same innotation as many desis use the phrase “Phalana Dimaka ” or the english translation would be “whatever”.

    During my stay in South India as i noticed that most dravidian languages use altogether different swear words than the Hindi based northern languages.

    Last but not the least , has any1 ever heard Nepali swearing.If not , u’ve missed a delicasy in swearing, swearing is almost similar to firing bullets in nepali and to top it all, u dont have a bloody clue as to what has just been uttered.

  28. nitinpai

    December 4, 2007 at 11:52 am

    And I thought girls never swear! 🙂

  29. anju

    December 19, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    Amrita, thanks for a very interesting topic. Since saaki has asked if anyone has heard swearings in nepali, I would like to share some.

    As a Nepali girl I rarely mouth these words, and when I do, I do it only among close friends. However, I keep hearing them when I am in the market, riding local buses or in a movie theatre. While I have never heard the equivalent of “behenchod” in Nepali, the most common we hear is “machhiknay” which means “motherf….”. “chiknay” stands for “f…”. Another one that boys including my brothers freely use is “muji” which means vagina and ” jatha” which I think means pubic hair. I know many more, but I think you get the idea that Nepalese are not far behind when it comes to swearing!

  30. saaki

    December 20, 2007 at 3:25 am

    @Anju :
    I had a nepali friend once and he used two very peculiar words, which i’ve not forgotten even after so many days after my school days .

    1. Swaangmat racha..
    2.Kukur kojaat chiknay

    And has anyone heard the phrase “phuddi da”….a jammu roomie of mine uses it like we use the word “mate”…!!!

  31. saaki

    December 20, 2007 at 5:07 am

    @ Amrita:

    I bet u’ve not heard BC Sutta.Give a whole new dimension to swearing and B******.
    try this link , ish’s blog has got a superb collection.
    or try googling for Bhenchod sutta by the band The Zeest.

    I’m sure u’ll love it. The original score of this song is simply superb and add to that the bass guitar …its awesome…and not because of insane swearing..if this song was clean it cud have gone on to become a chartbuster.

    its been a college favourate throughout asia [ atleast India and the neighbours].


  32. Amrita

    December 20, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Nitin – you thought wrong didn’t you? 😀

    Anju – lolz! Chiknay? really? I’ll have to pay some extra attention next time I meet a Nepali.

    Saaki – somebody sent me that song a while back but it was an awful recording. that link is much better, thanks 🙂

  33. anju

    December 20, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Saaki: I wanted to listen to the sutta song, but it seems liket the audio is not working anymore. Read the lyrics tho, and got most of it but didn’t know what “sutta” meant – my guess is a cigarette? Recently a friend sent me the link (given below) to a Nepali song full of it (if you can understand). Let me warn those who do understand Nepali, iIts awfully vulgar.

    Amrita: Never say chaknay to a Nepali!!! Actually, I think the word in hindi means something like smooth or pretty….I hear it in hindi songs and movies all the time. Nepali and Hindi languages are kind of related – many words come from the same root (mother language Sanskrit?). Probably “chicknay” and “chodney” are related?

  34. Rahul Sharma

    January 11, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    That was VERY Very bhenchod informative!

    And this one had the most perceptive comments as well!!!


  35. 2eyes

    February 17, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Amrita…these are a few delicacies from down south!
    quite funny…ye every part of india has a unique swearing istyle…if delhities like it to their sister….down in hyderbad…they like it to their ..mother…like they say ‘maaki’…..maaki bus gayee re…..maaki mast hai re….and in hyd its a very common to use this following phrase /word….”maaki lavde”…we use it more often than we breathe in…makilavde…kys bola re?? maakilavde…jaldi de re…..! Makilavdaa..kya shot mara re!!…and for a change “behan ke lavdee’….more often than we breathe out!

  36. nitinpai

    March 8, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    So which swear words have you used till now? 😀

  37. Masoom_si_sararat

    March 20, 2008 at 6:54 am

    there is one more which my friend circle was very used to 😀

    it is bibichod…..

    we are still very fond of it and just use it when u are in a serious querral wit hsomeone. we have always found their angers vapourise by the use of this word :D:D

  38. mummyjaan

    April 25, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Ah, yes, maathi mila or maathi mili :). Heard it after a loooong looong time. ..

    You translate it as ‘mixed with dirt’. I was told – the same time that I was told we were never to use it – that it came from “mitti main mil jaana”, as in being dead, buried, and gone back to the earth. In a way, invoking death upon the person you were cursing.

    An old lady in the neighbourhood used it often, and ever since her demise, I have not heard the term used (well, not often anyway). Until reading this post, I had always thought it was a unique Hyderabadi curse. Well, it looks like it’s more widespread.

  39. Amrita

    April 25, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    mummyjaan – huh, I had no idea. but yes, it’s a pan Indian curse 🙂

  40. rohit gill

    August 4, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Hindi swear words English all have their specialities ! Hindi swearing is effective but if u use punjabi swear words and pronounce the same words in Punjabi in the Punjabi way for example

    Hindi – Behnchod
    Punjabi – Pehnchod or Pehnchoda, Pehnchodi – The way its said with a P and the punjabi tone is so much more hardhitting in some words (try saying it) I believe But Hindi is still pretty good nevertheless

  41. Hades

    August 30, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Quite true.

    The thing was that I went to a rather fancy school, where Hindi (and Bengali ’cause this school was in Calcutta) was implicitly infra dig. Hence we did all our swearing in English. No MC/BCs for me. ‘Motherfucker’ would have to do. Even when we did go desi we anglicised things beyond recognition (although at that time it seemed very normal to me). Thus we never said Chutiya, it was always, ‘chooth’ (people well versed in women’s anatomy in hindi might recognise this as a separate swear word but i’m pretty sure it was a short form of chutiya), as in ‘You bloody chooth, why are you late?’

    However, when I entered engineering college, things changed very quickly (you might get beaten up for calling someone a motherfucker there but might become best of friends for calling that same person a madarchod) and I actually spent my first semester learning hindi swear words. It was quite embarrassing at that time, really. I remember actually asking people what ‘Bhosadi’ meant or what ‘choochchi’ meant !

    Of course, not that I’m in Delhi, the swearing Capital of the country, my college education is really helping me out.

  42. Sawan

    September 4, 2008 at 2:20 am

    i liked the vedio way too much! 🙂

  43. Phittermoo

    September 23, 2008 at 12:33 pm


    This is a great site.. Love swearing in all languages, and I really think Indian swearing is so great.. English sweraing doesnt compare. However can somebody please tell me what the word for a lesbian is in Hindi / Punjabi… Also does Gandoo actually mean ‘Gay’

    Thanks for your help

  44. rohit gill

    October 27, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    There is no word as far as i know in hindi or punjabi for lesbian but for gay we hav Gaandu not for lesbians some words in English don’t have equivalents in our language

  45. Suman

    November 11, 2008 at 4:40 am

    Another favorite, a Bambaiya one, is Land Kabab:)

  46. ravi nair

    December 13, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    I have never met an Indian girl (at least in the USA) who swears and come to think of it, my friends and I do not swear either.

    I guess I have to inform all my Desi buddies and their wives in the US, that we have to get back to swearing. After reading this post, I feel like a misfit :-).

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