L23 - Insults and Swear Words

In our previous lesson we covered a few ways to give compliments. The strange thing is the first thing many people want to learn in a foreign language is the swear words and insults. Well I guess we might as well cover a few but I must say these should not be used. It is nice to understand some of the colourful language that is being used around you but that does not mean it is a good idea to use these words yourself.

Swearing in any language is an advanced skill. Swear words can be used fondly or comically but you need to be very proficient in the language to make it work. You can call a friend 'an old bastard' and it will be taken as an affectionate jibe. If you say the same thing to a stranger you may get a punch in the mouth.

It is not a good idea to swear in a foreign language. You will just create a poor impression. Even with close friends, you should make it clear that you are learning these words for curiosity and not to use them.

Like most languages, Thai has a rich and colourful range of insults and swear words. It is funny how most languages seem to have many more ways to give an insult than a complement. We can't possibly cover all the Thai swear words but here are a few of the more common ones. Remember you may hear Thai people use many of these but they know how to use them.


stupid ngo
buffalo kwai
crazy bah
crazy ding-dong
ugly nah gliat
ugly kee ray
stingy kee nee-ow
stingy kee ngok
bird shit kee nok
rude title for male ai
son of a bitch ai hee-ah
bastard ai wen
rude title for female ee
bitch ee hee-ah
old crow ee-gah
whore ee-dtua
whore gah-ree
son of a whore luke gah-ree
ladyboy katoey
insulting form of 'you' mung
arrogant form of 'me' goo


This is the Thai word for buffalo. Thais consider the animal slow and stupid so the implication is the same if directed at people.

nah gliat

This is a funny one. It means ugly but you will also often hear Thais use it affectionately for babies and small children. There is an old Thai superstition that if you call babies lovely or beautiful it may attract the attention of demons who want to whisk beautiful babies away. Of course, Thais do not actually believe this, but just in case, it is better to say the baby is ugly and everyone knows what you mean.

kee nee-ow

This phrase means stingy or tight with money.

kee - can be the Thai word for excrement, not really as harsh as 'shit' but ruder than 'pooh'. However, in this case that is not its meaning. This word can also mean 'a tendancy to be'.

nee-ow - means sticky.

So in this case, kee nee-ow means 'a tendancy to be sticky'. That is you tend to keep hold of your money.

'kee nok' and 'kee ngok'

These two insults probably cause more confusion and debate than any others. This is partly because they are sometimes directed at western foreigners (farang) and partly because we don't quite know what they mean. It is also because the western ear finds it very difficult to distinguish between the 'n' sound at the start of nok and the 'ng' sound at the start of ngok. Westerners therefore often think they have heard the strong insult farang kee nok when what was actually said is the much gentler insult farang kee ngok.

farang kee nok - in this case kee is being used as 'shit' and nok means bird. The phrase therefore means 'bird shit foreigner' and is quite a nasty insult. However, it really isn't used all that often. It is more common that the westerner thinks that is what he heard when what was actually said is...

farang kee ngok - in this case kee is being used as 'a tendancy to be' and ngok implies both a tendancy to keep your own possessions and to be covetous of other people's possessions. The phrase suggests stingyness. It says that the foreigner is happy to accept Thai hospitaily but is not giving anything back.

ai & ee

These are insulting titles. They can be placed before other words to make them an insulting title for the person being described. ai is for men and ee is for women. They can be used to make up insults. For example the Thai word farang for westerner is not an insult. If you make it ai farang then it becomes an insult.

Thai people tend to look down on dark skin as ugly and a sign of being lower class. It suggests you have spent a lot of time working outdoors. So to call a woman ee dum (Ms Blacky) is insulting. You can use it with many words to form insults, e.g. ai kwai (Mr Buffalo), ee ngo (Ms Stupid), ai bah (Mr Crazy).

Although they are insulting terms, you will often hear Thais usng them in casual conversation. They can be used comically or fondly but you have to be very good at the language. Foreigners should not try to use them.

ai hee-ah / ee hee-ah - Just do not even think about using this one. 'Son of a bitch' or 'bitch' is a rough translation of this but does not begin to convey the strength of the insult. The word hee-ah is a monitor lizard but as in insult it suggests lowly, slimey and all kinds of bad things.


Swear Words

Here is a short list of general Thai swear words.

fuck yet
motherfucker yet mair
fuck you yet mung
duck fucker yet pet
cock kuay
cocksucker om kuay
dog dick kuay mah
dick gra-dor
short dick dor sun
pussy hee
pussy hoi
dog pussy hee mah
what the hell arai wah
shit kee
bullshit dtor-lair
wank (male) chuk waow (fly a kite)
wank (female) dtok bet (angling for fish)

dor sun

You may still occassionally hear Thais mention the character Jack Dawson from the movie Titanic. They were very amused by this character name because to them it sounds like Jack Short Dick.





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