International Swear Words to Love and Use: Greek Style!

By Zeus's Electric Oats! I'll have you cursing like an Athenian in no time...
By Zeus’s Electric Oats! I’ll have you cursing like an Athenian in no time…

Greetings from the Acropolis, as we delve once more into the enchanting world of profanity. You may not remember my most recent attempt to cajole you into a potty-mouth habit.

The last time I sang my profane siren song, I did it ever so genteelly by contemplating “What Would Jane (Austen) Do?”

Before you begin hyperventilating about a list of words represented by an ancient alphabet that’s Greek to you, relax. I’ll provide the proper transliteration of all Grecian profanity and insults.

Are you ready to snack from a linguistic tray of stuffed grape leaves, spanakopita, and revithokeftedes? Alright, then–let’s ignite a plate of kasseri cheese and shout opa! on our way down the highway to (verbal) Hades.

(Please note: Working on this particular “International Swear Words…” post had me blushing like a geek at a high-school freshman dance. Greeks hurl their swear words with generous abandon the way they used to smash plates during weddings and other celebrations. What must the residents of Mount Olympus think of modern Greece?)

Know the Difference Between a Dumb (Female) Ilithia and a Dumber (Male) Ilithios: I’ve been publishing this series since 2012. And yet, never have I discovered as many offensive words and phrases as those I found via websites offering Greek-to-English translations.

We’ll start with a fairly benign way to insult annoying people who lack common sense. Whether someone is an ilithia or an ilithios, both translate as “moron.” This one is palatable enough to spew at children, seniors, and family pets.

(A variation includes vlaka for the gentlemen, vlammeni for the ladies, and vlacas for general usage.)

When Touring Athens’s Ancient Ruins, Avoid Stepping in Fossilized Skata: Ah, safe haven. I shared this word with you in French and Spanish and Italian, back when I was a blogging newbie.

Skata equates to excrement you’d rather not step in. I suspect you can also employ it as an interjection: “Aristotle, how dare you drink my last bottle of ouzoskata!”)

Either way, it seems a mild epithet uttered by street-savvy Greeks. I’m fairly confident skata’s pronunciation rhymes with (alma) mater…

When You As To Thialo, Please Give My Regards to Hades: I just couldn’t resist adding a dollop of Greek mythology to my profane piece of moussaka.

For your information, Hades was the Greek god of the Underworld. While the Elysian Fields were one part of his dominion, another region, Tartarus, was also known as H-E-Double-Hockey Sticks. (As to thialo kind of sounds like i-sto-di-alo.)

The literal translation of a suggested road trip to Hades’s home is “leave to Satan.” I doubt Hades would appreciate this interpretation. He considered himself a god, not a fallen angel. Wrong story, John Milton fans!

One way to use this phrase in a sentence: “Nico my son, the next time you bring home a non-Greek girl and announce her as your filenáda, turn around and as to thialo instead.”

The Proper Way to Advocate (Safe?) Self-Sex in Greek Is Salta Gamisou: At last we’ve reached the inflammatory f-bomb portion of our itinerary. I could be wrong, but I think Greece shelters a “skataload” of sex-obsessed citizens.

There’s a generous variety of f-bomb choices. You decide which way to flip someone off in Greek suits you best:

Ay gamisou = F#@k off!

Gamiola = A gal who, well, f#@ks a lot. In other languages, some might call her a salope (French) or puta (Spanish).

Gamiseme tora = F#@k me now. (I’m unsure if this is uttered as part of sexual foreplay in Greece–use at your discretion.)

Gamo = I f#@k. (Example: “Gamo to mouni pou se petage!” For the translation, visit Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Malaka wanker gamisou = See ay gamisou

Salta Gamisou = Go f#@k yourself. (The easy-to-remember synonym is ande gamisou.)

Blend in with Your New Greek Friends by Insulting Each Malaka You Meet: According to the quasi-reliable lexicons I sourced online, malaka (or malacca) is the most common insult used by Greeks. Further, it does double duty: It defines someone as a proponent of sexual self-pleasure AND a sphincter opening. Need I be more coy?

I strongly advise not using this word when eating at a Greek diner or restaurant–why tempt the gods and goddesses?

And please, do not confuse malaka with hakuna matata (the iconic Swahili phrase for “no worries”), especially if you’re a die-hard Lion King enthusiast. Wrong continent…

Dirty Greek Isn’t Your Thing? Go Old School with an Ancient Oath: For sheer entertainment value, modern-day Greek profanity can’t compete with the historical versions that provoked both mortals and deities alike.

Those of you who appreciate retro treasures such as Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans (the 1981 version–Harry Hamlin as Perseus!), and the more recent  Percy Jackson and the Olympians series know what I’m talking about.

The Interwebs did not give up as many olden oaths as I’d hoped for, but what I found, I’ll share with you:

“I cast you to Hades!”

“Go to the crows!” (The preferred oath of playwright Aristophanes…)

“By Zeus (or Hermes, or Poseidon, or Hercules, or…)!”

“May all of Demetrius’s toenails fall out, that son of a Macedonian goat!” (Via an old Absolute Write forum thread…)

“By Hera’s pomegranate, the fruits of your harvest will wither and die!” (Yeah, I fabricated this one…)


Non-Grecian men and maidens: What do you think of Socrates’s and Plato’s fair language now? Are you ready to embrace the Aegean Sea’s “foul-mouthed” shores, or is it still all Greek to you?

Don’t bypass the opportunity to season your conversations with a profane combination of maidanos, faskomilo, dendrolivano, and thymari–also known as Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.

As Zorba (the Greek) would say, “Every man has his folly, but the greatest folly of all … is not to have one.”

Go ahead, spirited readers–dance the sirtaki and release your inner Kraken with a lusty “klasse mas ta arxidia!” (Translation: Fart on my testicles!)

Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) company in Marlton, New Jersey, that plies its trade via copywriting, editing, and other content-marketing services. She revels in shielding her clients from the time-consuming pain of writing their own print or web marketing and promotional copy.

Please call Lori Shapiro of By All Writes LLC at 856-810-9764 (or e-mail her via to schedule the gratis 20-minute consultation that will resolve your current copywriting or editing dilemma…

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