Proto-Indo-European is an interesting topic. I'm fascinated by how it spread. But, I wonder how to use curse words. These words, like others, will probably be reconstructed from other languages: Latin, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit. I looked up classic curse words, and all I found were words like shit giving "to divide", and the fuck giving "prick" (the latter is oddly cognate with the Latin word for fist).

Are there reconstructed curse words, and if so, what are they?

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    I could also see an on-topic question coming out of this if it were "are there any expletives or interjections reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European?"—comparative stuff tends to be better received.
    – Draconis
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 0:10
  • you should clarify what kind of curses. It seems you either just mean the emphatic Oh! Uh!! Yuck!!! variant or you are to friggin'' stuck up to spell it out, gosh darn it. Anything else would be too broad anyway. Google for Cursing in Luwian, for example, or Merseburger Zaubersprüche -- the horse one is not about heeling, I tell you. What a lame horse had that idea should be put down.
    – vectory
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 23:55
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    @NumberFile do everyone a favor and edit the question so it no longer looks like you're trying to figure out how to swear in an actual language, but instead, what is the current state of knowledge in reconstructing PIE curses, swears and interjection, whether we know if they were used as they are in the descendant languages (not all languages have "curses" exactly the same way we mean them), or whether we know of another class of terms that served similar purposes. Also, definitely spell the words you're using in your question in full. If swearing is not allowed, quoting relevant words it.
    – LjL
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 1:14
  • Curses are spoken language. Does PIE specify when things are spoken? Most words are actual things.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 16:00
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    Closing this question as if it's a translation question and not a reconstruction question is beyond silly.
    – Cairnarvon
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 23:17

2 Answers 2


You can always count on biological functions to furnish vulgarisms:

  • fornicate: *YEBh, EIBh > Greek οιφω, Sanskrit yabhati, Russian ебать

  • defecate: *GhED > Greek χεζω, Sanskrit hadati

  • feces: *SKER > Greek σκωρ/σκατ-, Old English scearn

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    What makes you think that these words were tabooized in PIE? Greek οἴφω is definitely not a swear word.
    – fdb
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 19:48
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    All anybody knows about PIE comes from studying the daughter IE languages and extrapolating backward. If these words are "tabooized" in the latter, it's a good bet that they were in PIE. The precise usage of one Greek word is not the point. A word from the same old root is a common insult in Russian, and words for fornication are taboo or vulgar in many languages. Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 12:07
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    Wouldn't taboo words be less likely to be inherited into daughter languages?
    – Draconis
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 20:18
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    Vulgarities used as curses aren't really taboo. Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 20:41
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    yes, the taboo depends on context. dysphemism is perhaps the word you are looking for. The euphemism treadmill would make dysphemisms only stronger; but I'd conjecture there's also a dysphemism cycle, in which dysphemism wear off and loose their edge through usage and become acceptable in formal language--perhaps gay for example, though it had a head start as euphemism initially. As I said, depends on context. Vice versa, for the bad euphemisms, you have to wonder whether they started as reinterpretation of something else, eu- or dysphemistic.
    – vectory
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 22:05

I think the solution is not far from sight. Both Greek and Latin use the names of the deities in phrases like τὸν Δία "by Zeus" = pro iovem "by Jove" as oaths, and that seems like good indication their remote ancestors did likewise.

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    I don't think using two languages that had centuries of a shared cultural and literary output should be taken as indicative of a proto-language spoken 3,000 years prior to their literary activity.
    – cmw
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 17:01
  • As with all things derivative of the Neogrammarian method, I would appreciate someone chiming in with information as to whether the pro + deity in accusative construction is of Greek origin. I would assume that they developed independently unless shown thus and also assume that they are valid phrasal/mythological comparanda.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 14:28

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