People damned each other probably from the times they started to speak. Specific “curses” are in every language, and Ukrainian is no exception. We’ve prepared for you “a digest” of angry expressions in Ukrainian: some are quite old, some are widely used even now
We can’t guarantee you’ll hear all of them (and we hope you won’t). What we can promise is some fun while reading the article.
Want to know what angry Ukrainians say? Let’s start.
А хай тобі…
To start, let’s have a look how almost every curse begins:
- А щоб тобі (тебе)…
- А бодай тобі (тебе)…
- А хай тобі…
All have the same meaning and are interchangeable. They mean “let it happen to you”. What specifically can you wish on your enemy in Ukrainian?
Angry expressions in Ukrainian with animals
In some abusive expressions, one asks for assistance animals, birds, or even insects:
- А щоб вас качка копнула! – Let a duck kick you!
- А щоб тобі курка (жаба) на ногу наступила! – Let a hen (a frog) step on your foot!
- А щоб тебе муха вбрикнула! – Let a fly kick you!
- А щоб на тебе кицька чхнула! – Let a cat sneeze at you!
In this advanced Ukrainian Lessons Podcast episode, learn 10 Ukrainian idioms with animals (+ Premium members will find extra 10 idioms in their notes) > ULP 4-148 | Українські фразеологізми про тварин
Angry expressions in Ukrainian: Physical activities
Some of the curses foresee odd physical activities for a receiver:
- А щоб вас підняло і гепнуло! – Let you be lifted and dropped!
- Щоб тебе в прецель скрутило! – Let you be curled as a pretzel!
- А щоб тобі рачки лазити! – Let you crawl on all fours!
Here is one that’s a little more cruel:
- А щоб твоєю пикою просо молотили! – May someone thresh millet with your face
Angry expressions in Ukrainian: Body changes
Some curses predict dangerous body changes:
- Щоб тобі пір’я в роті поросло! – Let feathers grow in your mouth!
- Щоб тебе швидка Настя зносила! – Let you be hit by Fast Nastya (Fast Nastya means diarrhea)!
- Щоб ти скис! – Let you become sour!
- Щоб ти луснув! – Let you burst!
Грець, біс and others
Here are some more. For starters, all these expressions are actively used…
- Щоб вам гарно жилося! – Let you have a good life!
While I have never heard «щоб вам курка на ногу наступила», «щоб вам гарно жилося» was constantly said in my office. When someone refused to comment something with no reason, they usually said: «А щоб вам добре жилося», «А шоб ви були здорові» – let you have good life, may you be healthy!
Of course the meaning is the opposite. It’s a mild way to say you don’t wish them anything good at the moment. And here is a way to say it directly.
- Щоб вам добра не було! – Let no good happen to you!
- Хай йому всячина! – Let anything happen to you!
Всячина means “everything” or “anything”, a widely used expression.
- Біс із ним, чорт із ним! – Let devil be with it (leave it alone, let it be, don’t pay attention).
- Хай тобі грець! – Let грець happen to you!
«Грець» is a little more difficult. If you ask, nobody would explain who or what is грець.
If we look up грець in the dictionaries, we would find out it means a sickness attack. The word comes from the verb грати – to play (to behave strangely, to be too active). The expression could be translated as “let you be sick”, but nobody usually keeps in mind the literal meaning. It’s just a mystical грець.
Enough angry expressions in Ukrainian for now! We hope you won’t find yourself in a situation listening to them. But if you do, you’ll be prepared to respond.
If you need to disagree in a polite way, check out the article > Useful expressions to agree and disagree in Ukrainian (with audio)
Looking for more resources to improve your Ukrainian vocabulary? Check our 1000 most common words in Ukrainian with interactive flashcards.
Also, you can learn Ukrainian step by step with our free Ukrainian Lessons Podcast.