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I was reading the book Lingua Latina, Per Se Illustrata by Hans H. Ørberg, and I often saw scenes in which persons were angry. In the book, the writer doesn't use any swear words or anything to that effect. Did the ancient Romans use any swear words and, if so, could anyone give an example of a Latin swear word?

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    Latin translations have frequently been "bowdlerized" to remove "bad language", sometimes to the great detriment of accuracy. – pjc50 Dec 16 '16 at 20:28
  • This is a vague memory from years ago, I had a good friend who was a pro at Latin and had me read a book written by an aristocrat of the time, language of which was Super vulgar - pretty much 50 shades of grey multiplied by Nero. You'll really have to dig into the subject. – seems Dec 17 '16 at 16:59
  • @seems I'm guessing this is either Petronius's Satyricon or Apuleius's Metamorphoses. – TKR Dec 17 '16 at 19:18
  • @seems Maybe you could give some more information? Like sources, (if possible) more memories, etc. – L. Peters Dec 17 '16 at 21:47
  • @seems That sounds like the Satyricon, but there's also the Priapeia which is the most "vulgar" Latin I know of (in the sense of obscene, not the dialect which became Romance). – Draconis Dec 17 '16 at 21:51
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Yes, they used swear words all the time! There's actually a whole book on the subject, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary by J. N. Adams. Cinaedus (the bad slang for a passive homosexual male), mentula (dick), and cunnus (cunt) are perhaps the most common and dirtiest insults. You can see on Wikipedia a larger list, too.

There's actually a nice little poem—Catullus 16—containing a quite a few of these swear words, two powerful ones in the first line. Catullus was a Roman living in the first century BCE, and so was a contemporary of Cicero and Caesar. Here are the first four lines:

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo,

Aureli pathice et cinaede Furi,

qui me ex versiculis meis putastis,

quod sunt molliculi, parum pudicum.

This can be vulgarly translated so:

I will fuck you in the ass and in the mouth

Cocksucking Aurelius and Butt-boy Furius

You who think that I, because my verses

Are a little soft, have no shame.

You can read the whole poem on Rudy Negenborn's site: Catullus 16.

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    The poem also has its own Wikipedia page. – Joonas Ilmavirta Dec 16 '16 at 19:49
  • "Passer deliciae meae puellae" (Great translations, btw;) – DukeZhou Jan 18 '18 at 21:44
  • Latin cunnus derived directly into Spanish coño 'cunt', quite a dirty word. Interestingly enough, it also derived into cunnilingus, a very polite word today for 'oral sex applied to a woman' even though its dirty origins. – Charlie Jun 4 '18 at 9:09

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