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15 ways to swear like a Swiss German

You might speak Swiss German, but if you don’t swear in Swiss German, you’re a tourist.

If you are going to swear, then do it in Swiss German. It'll terrify people. Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash
If you are going to swear, then do it in Swiss German. It'll terrify people. Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

Switzerland prides itself on linguistic diversity – and nowhere is that better illustrated than with swearing. 

The most popular swear word in one village or canton may not be known at all a few towns over. 

A callout for readers’ favourite Swiss swearwords from news outlet Blick in 2020 received more than 600 entries, showing the scope of swearing in Switzerland. 

And while this list doesn’t have 600, it does cover some of our favourites. 

By far, the most common theme among these words is idiot or fool. While some are playful, others are particularly harsh. 

Also we haven’t gone into depth on pronunciation, because that’ll often differ from canton to canton – and even from street to street. But if you want a comprehensive guide on how to say most of the following, checkout this link. 


Habasch is the perfect word to use when someone has done something wrong. 

A Habasch is basically someone who is incompetent or wrong, but the word is particularly popular in a workplace context. 

Think of it as the equivalent of the ‘you only had one job!’ jab which is relatively common in English. 

It can also be used for someone who has the wrong opinion on an important matter. 

‘Just so fun to say’: Are these the best Swiss German words to learn?


This one – which means a cheeky or otherwise naughty young boy – is perhaps the funnest to say of all of the words. 

Pronounced ‘Sch-nood-er-goof’, Schnudergoof isn’t particularly nasty or demeaning, and could be thought of as a combination of the English words goofball and rascal. 

Schnure/Schnorre – as in “Halt d’schnorre” (“shut your mouth”)

Translating literally as ‘mouth’ or ‘trap’, Schnure/Schnorre is frequently used in common with ‘halt die…’ – i.e. shut your trap. 

Existing somewhere in between ‘shut up’ and ‘shut the hell up’, it’s best saved for comfortable situations where you know the intended recipient. 


This one is particularly popular in northern Switzerland, especially around Solothurn (although it fades in popularity as soon as you hit the French border). 

Heutröchner basically means ‘good for nothing’ – and will commonly be heard when a bus driver ignores a bus stop. 


As a relatively religious country, at least traditionally, it stands to reason that insults involving religion have found a foothold – as blasphemy-loving English speakers no doubt know. 

The best possible translation is probably ‘goddamnit’. As with pretty much anything in Swiss German, there are loads of variations – including Gopfertoori, Gopfridstüdeli, Gopfertami, Gopferteli. 

From ‘cabbage’ to ‘soft pear’: Ten Swiss-German insults you need to know


Unknown to many Swiss, Pajass is one of the more popular swearwords in the city of Bern. 

Pajass basically means clown, fool, buffoon or joker. This isn’t a particularly heavy swearword, but it shouldn’t be used too lightly either. 

In 2020, it was voted ‘Switzerland’s favourite swearword’ by Blick readers. 


Literally translating to dirty pig, this one is a less than affectionate term for someone who is disgusting. 

Whether it be not washing their hands after the bathroom or failing to brush their teeth, Säuniggel is someone who is just plain gross. 

If you’ve been wearing Säuniggel out, then you can go for Grüsel, which has pretty much the same meaning.

A pig in Herdern, Switzerland

A pig in Herdern, Switzerland. Photo by Pascal Debrunner on Unsplash 


Chotzbrocke literally means a piece or part of vomit, which is of course not a particularly nice idea to think about. 

Calling someone a Chotzbrocke? The word usually means a disgusting or arrogant person who has little respect or care for others. 


This is a particular favourite of ours here at The Local Switzerland – at least in part because it is so difficult to translate. 

Most dictionaries will translate Gaggalari as being clumsy, which is definitely the case, but the word also refers to someone who has a kind of ‘dumb luck’, i.e. fortune keeps smiling on them even though they seem to inelegantly fumble their way through life. 

If you want to describe a clumsy person in a more lovable way, then Lappi is the appropriate term. 

This should not be confused with Gopfertoori, Gopfridstüdeli, Gopfertami, Gopferteli and Gottfridstutz (all listed above), which mean ‘goddamnit’. 

READ MORE: Nine fun Swiss German words without an English translation


Put simply, a Rätschbäse is basically someone who tells the authorities – or anyone who’s listening – if you’ve done something wrong. 

This is perhaps best described by English words like ‘dobber’, ‘squealer’ or ‘rat’. 

Although it could be used in an organised crime context, it is usually a little less serious – i.e. telling the train conductor that you think that person over there doesn’t have a ticket. 

This one is related to a Bünzli or a Chreisellinggsblinker. 


Literally translating as ‘soft pear’, a Birreweich is someone who doesn’t have it all together upstairs. Unlike in English where your brain might be your noggin or your noodle, in Swiss-German your brain is otherwise known as your ‘pear’. 

So if a friend calls you a soft pear, it means your friend thinks your brain is mush – and it also might mean you should get some new friends. 

A bunch of green pears

Soft pear is in fact a Swiss insult – and one you will want to avoid. Photo by Olesia Buyar on Unsplash


This Swiss-German insult – which is also common throughout much of Germany – is similar to the terms ‘bimbo’ or ‘blonde’ in English. This term is reserved for the kind of person who might care a little too much about their appearance and less about pretty much anything else. 

It’s also undoubtedly sexist, as it’s rarely if ever used for men. 

Apparently inspired from the legend of Tusnelda, Tussi entered the Swiss-German and German mainstream vernacular in the 1990s and has stubbornly remained. 

SEE ALSO: Top ten Swiss-German romantic nicknames


Like many Swiss swear words, there is an actual meaning and a colloquial meaning. And also like many Swiss swear words, Schofseckel has an animal origin. 

A Schofseckel – known in some dialects as Schoofseggel – literally means the penis of a ram.

But calling someone a Schofseckel basically means they’re an idiot – and not in a particular endearing way. 


A Totsch is a loveable fool, a simple-minded person who is sweet enough but is as dumb as a bag of hammers.  Think Homer Simpson. 

This one isn’t particularly vicious, so you can use it among those around you – provided of course they have a Homer Simpson moment. 

Put the dirty washing with laundry detergent in the dryer? “Achh, du Totsch!” 

A person in a suit also wearing a floating ring and a snorkel

This is perfectly normal attire for a Totsch. Photo by Daria Rem from Pexels


Chreisellinggsblinker is a great word, both because it is so fun to say and because you’re likely to encounter more than a few in Switzerland. 

A Chreisellinggsblinker is someone who always does something perfectly – and is not at all shy about telling others what they’ve done wrong, while calling attention to their own perfect performances. 

From correcting your spelling in a text message from a few weeks ago to calling out the inaccuracy of mundane details in a story you’re telling over lunch at work, everyone knows a Chreisellinggsblinker when you see one. 

If you’re familiar with the word Bünzli – basically a ‘goody-two-shoes’ in English – a Chreisellinggsblinker is like an über-Bünzli. 

Continuing the Simpsons theme, if Totsch (lovable fool) is Homer, then Chreisellinggsblinker is definitely Lisa Simpson. 

Chreisellinggsblinker is particularly common in the canton of Zurich, although is can be used through much of the region. 

Think we’ve got it wrong or have some of your own favourites? Please let us know in the comments below!

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For members


Five places to learn (Swiss) German for free in Zurich

German is not an easy language to learn, particularly Swiss German. The City of Zurich knows this and has several offers for free classes for immigrants. Writer Parul Chhaparia lists five of them.

Five places to learn (Swiss) German for free in Zurich

Let’s accept it. Learning German is not easy. And if you try to learn Swiss German, it could be as tricky as nailing jelly to a tree.

However, the difficulty is not the only reason many immigrants don’t pick up the local language as much as they would like. Sometimes, it is just that you are working too much to find time to learn, or you are unemployed and find these courses quite expensive, or you are a homemaker who does not need much language skills, so why invest time and energy?

Even then, if you have been living in Switzerland for some time, you must have been motivated to learn the local language at least at some point. The good news is that most of the city authorities in Switzerland recognise these reasons and, therefore, offer free German courses to motivate people to learn the language more socially.

READ ALSO: 5 modern Swiss novels to read this summer

In this article, we have compiled some of the German learning programs that are offered for free by the city of Zurich for various focused groups of immigrants.

AOZ Fachbereich Gesellschaftliche Integration

AOZ is an independent public law institution in the city of Zurich. It fulfils social assistance and integration promotion tasks for asylum seekers, refugees, and other immigrants. In addition, AOZ has been actively offering language support to immigrants.

The institution offers free German courses at three locations in the city: Letzipark shopping centre, Pestalozzi Library Oerlikon, and Langstrasse.

READ ALSO: TEST: Is your German good enough for Swiss citizenship?

According to Samantha Sengupta, the project manager for the Societal Integration Department,
at AOZ, the project started way back in 2008-09 when ‘learning Deutsch’ was not mandatory.

“The idea was to motivate people to come and see how they can learn Deutsch to integrate better. So we have been trying different ways, and currently, we have three locations in Zurich where these free classes are conducted,” Sengupta said.

Any person who lives in the city of Zurich can participate in the program. “The program is successful. We see many participants coming for the course. They decide how long they want to stay in the program. Some stay just for a few weeks, others for two to three months. It is mostly people considering to integrate and have low budget who come for this program,” she said.

You can find more information here.

Learning German is hard work, but worth it (Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash)

Gemeinschaftszentrum Buchegg

Even if you have been living in Zurich only for a few weeks, you might have discovered the Gemeinschaftszentrum (community centres) in your area.

They offer a diverse range of socio-cultural activities to those in particular areas. In addition, some of these centres also organise Language conversation café (Sprach-café) meet-ups.

The Gemeinschaftszentrum of Buchegg conducts its Sprach café every Tuesday from 10 am to 11 am. The sessions are currently conducted online and don’t require any prior registration.

You can find more information here.

READ ALSO: 15 ways to swear like a Swiss German

Gemeinschaftszentrum Leimbach

Like the Gemeinschaftszentrum Buchegg, the Leimbach centre also organises a Sprach-café face-to-face meetup weekly. According to Michalina Gründel, the teacher at the Sprach Café, “the program’s objective is also to bring more immigrants together to socialise with participants from other communities.”

“The program is for everyone. One does not need to have prior knowledge of much German, but it is important to have an A1 level. This is a common rule at GZ Leimbach,” Gründel said.

Gründel has taught many participants for the last couple of years at GZ Leimbach. Most of these participants are from local or nearby areas. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she organised online classes. “I had to switch to online lessons, but it worked better than I thought. Some days I would have more participants online than live,” she said.

You can find more information here.

READ ALSO: ‘Just so fun to say’: Are these the best Swiss German words to learn?

Gemeinschaftszentrum Loogarten

The Loograten Community has recently started its Sprach Café. The event takes place every Tuesday between 2 pm to 3 pm, without prior registration.

The program’s focus is to brush up your German in a more fun and social way than in a complete school-like setting.

You can find more information here.

Interact Language Tandem

Founded in 2017, Interact is a non-profit organisation to promote linguistic and cultural exchange between German and foreign-speaking people in Zurich.

The association organises language tandems in various languages, including Arabic, English, French, and Italian. The project is supported by the Kanton Zürich Integrationsförderung.

You can find more information here.

Many other places, such as Fachschule Viventa, supported by the city of Zurich, offer German lessons at a very reasonable fee without making a hole in the pockets of the immigrants. The city of Zurich website also provides a databank of different German courses suitable for various groups.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Tips for learning Swiss German from those who have