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Merde means “shit” in French.

It is the most common French swear word.

Like the word “shit” in English, merde can refer to the actual substance, or be used in a metaphorical way.

Note that while merde is mostly used as a swear word, in the theater, it’s the equivalent of “Break a leg” – that is, a term actors say before a show, instead of “Good luck”.


  • Shit
  • If said before a play: “Break a leg!” (Good luck)

Alternative forms

  • Et merde ! (Oh shit!/Fuck me!) – When you make a stupid mistake or slip
  • de merde – shitty/fucking
  • merdique – crappy/shitty
  • putain de merde – Fucking hell/Goddamn it!

Example sentence

Cette chanson c’est vraiment de la merde.

This song is really shitty.

Tu n’es qu’une grosse merde !

You’re such a piece of shit!

Merde ! J’ai cassé la lampe.

Shit! I broke the lamp.

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