Sneak off, You Arse Violin!
The Viennese pride themselves in being a culture of misanthropic complainers. A society of the dissatisfied, oblivious to the fact that much of cursing in Vienna – in dialect or otherwise – is utterly endearing, cringingly funny or so shamelessly graphic you can’t resist a chuckle.
A lazy person is an “Owezahrer,” literally someone who pulls you down. The label “Gfrast” stands for a malevolent person, and the priceless “Oaschgeign” literally means ass violin. The most baffling is “Eierbär” (literally “egg bear”), the meaning of which I have yet to find out…
Minds in the Gutter
A recent survey by Oksana Havryliv at the German Studies Institute of the University of Vienna found that not much of Austrian swearing is directed at a subject, but a staggering 64% is out of anger or frustration: It’s purely a means of blowing off steam.
Austrians are known to avoid direct conflicts and what better way to do so than curse at problems. A long extended “So a Schaaaasss!“. Literally it means “what a fart.” Adorable.
“Curse words always stand for the weaknesses and the taboos of a culture,” Havryliv said in a recent interview with APA.
Austria’s most well-used and multifaceted cuss words have to do with sexual persuasions, genitalia or faeces. And it can get quite detailed. An English-speaker’s “pain in the arse” is an “Oaschkretzen,” literally a scab on said rear end.
Idioms for Idiots
Some other collectables are the ever-popular “Wappler” (an underachiever), a “Warmduscher” (a wimp, literally someone who takes warm showers). “Nudelsuppn” can be used both for a party with too many male attendants (the proverbial “sausage fest”) or as in the question “Bist auf der Nudelsuppn daher g’schwommen?“, literally, did you swim here on noodle soup, i.e., asking a gullible person if they were born yesterday.
Also most cursing is done in dialect therefore remaining a mystery to the not-yet-integrated. For beginners: Family-based expletives are not acceptable, nobody’s mother should ever be mentioned. Be aware that requests to get lost, like “schleich di” (Beat it!, or literally “sneak yourself off”) are mostly used in a humorous way.
So don’t take it personally if you’re asked to “Hupf’ in Gatsch und schlag’ a Welln” (“hop in the mud and make waves”). Just mutter “Hirnamputierter” (brain amputee) under your breath.
Have you encountered a favorite Austrian curse word or insult? Share it in the comments and we’ll add the best to this ultimate guide.