5 Quebec French Swear Words That Are Super Strange For People From France

Until you start cursing like a local. 😉

Staff Writer
The flag of Quebec.

The flag of Quebec.

For some reason, curse words are often the first ones people learn in a foreign language. But as a newcomer from France in Montreal, I thought that my québécois cousins with whom I share the language of Molière would swear just like me. I was so wrong.

I started wondering why Quebec French swear words all have a religious connotation, so I looked into it. Apparently, the church was too powerful in 19th-century Quebec, controlling the population and therefore causing lots of frustration. Quebecers started turning religious terms into profanities, as a linguistic way to raise their middle finger.

Today, perhaps unsurprisingly, Quebec is by manymeasures the least religious province in Canada.

Here are five local Quebec curse words that are super weird for expats from France, until one day you have difficulty waking up for work and "tabarnak" is the first word that comes to mind.

Tabarnak

This equivalent to "f*ck" in Canadian French has to be my favourite swear word in this list, and perhaps the worst sacre of all. It comes from "tabernacle," a box where the host and blood of Christ are stored — so where they put the sacred bread and wine basically.

Criss

Meaning "Christ," here's another interjection that you can use instead of saying "sh*t" or as a verb. For example, "s'en crisser" means '"to not give a damn." I hear this one at least once a week. Sorry, Jesus.

Esti

Used as a demeaning noun or adjective, this term derives from the holy host, which is the sacred bread Christians eat during mass. You can use ostie, estie, esti and evenstie, whatever floats your boat.

Calisse

This word comes from "chalice," the shiny goblet used in Christian ceremonies for holy wine. Can you believe nowadays the term means DAMN?

Ciboire

This one still sounds very weird to my European ears. I don't hear it as much as "tabarnak," though they mean the same thing. The word comes from the "ciborium," the container for the Eucharist. You can also call someone by that name but you'll probably make a new enemy.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Charlotte Hoareau
Staff Writer
Charlotte Hoareau is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog focused in things to do in Montreal and Montreal weather. She is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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