I'm seeking contextually-appropriate expressions for shocked surprise, even better would be seriously shocked/scared surprise. Vulgar is fine,

For context, this query is for dialog for a character in a novel.) A literal translation of, "Oh, shit!" is doable, but I doubt that colloquial or simply not what an Italian speaker would say.

I'm looking to express serious surprise. Not simply the, "You're being audited by the tax authorities" level of badness. Instead, I'm seeking something to express the "doctors say it's cancerous, but aren't sure if it's operable" level of bad, bad news received. An old-school expression would be especially good. (The character learned the language in southern Italy circa WWII; now speaks English -- except when badly rattled.) Any suggestions for phrases to use + in-context translation would be greatly appreciated. Any online resources (for swear words, curses, vulgar phrases) similarly appreciated.

  • I think diavolo!, al diavolo o all'inferno are not satisfying, are they?
    – N74
    Apr 27, 2017 at 20:39
  • Not a reference, but here you can find some hint: google.cz/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://…
    – N74
    Apr 27, 2017 at 20:47
  • @N74 I don't read/speak Italian. Would you kindly tell me how that would translate? (I'm guessing Devil and Hell basically, but the prepositions elude me, as does the non-literal import.)
    – Catalyst
    Apr 27, 2017 at 20:51
  • Well, all'inferno sounds like go to Hell and al diavolo has the same meaning (go to Devil). With diavolo! you are just swearing at the Devil. To be more vulgar you can use the many forms of porco/porco ....
    – N74
    Apr 27, 2017 at 20:59
  • 2
    @N74: For me al diavolo sounds more like someone gets annoyed at something and decides to give it up.
    – DaG
    Apr 28, 2017 at 1:00

2 Answers 2



is the translation of "Shit!", and is fine.

If you want something stronger, you can insult something. For example:

Porca troia!

is insulting a (nonexisting) whore.

Italians also swear at God and call him names when something really bad happens, but I'm not teaching you that since it's considered very offensive, is a big sin for the majority religion and it is illegal (yes, we are allowed to offend sex workers but not some imaginary entity)

  • 1
    +1 for the last parenthesis. Aug 17, 2017 at 10:24

You can use "oh mio dio, non è possibile" as a shock expression, which means "oh my God, it can't be possible"

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