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Are there more polite alternatives to

(Verfluchter) Mist!

to state that something went completely wrong in a business meeting?

Shit happens!

is a known anglicism in Germany but also streaks gutter language. Tragedy if dont learn polite swearing in your childhood ;)

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I currently like "huch" (oops) and "um himmels Willen" (heavens! or for heaven's sake, depending on the accentuation) Both are very polite indeed (in my estimation) –  Stefano Palazzo Sep 6 '11 at 17:54
    
Do you mean "state something in a business meeting" or "state that it was in the business meeting where something went wrong"? BTW: I'd never swear in a business meeting. –  Ingo Sep 8 '11 at 8:37
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5 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

There are some minced oaths in German as well, such as Scheibenkleister or Scheibenhonig. They might be less offensive than Scheiße (or Mist), and, at least in the case of "Scheibenhonig", might even help brighten up the general mood a bit.

Apart from that, Verflixt (und zugenäht [optional])! would be another not-quite offensive alternative I can think of right now, this is probably some less variation of Verdammt! (en: damn!).

Edit: Herrgott nochmal! (probably more offensive among very religious people) and Das darf doch nicht wahr sein! are no proper swearwords, but might help releasing some steam.

In Northern Germany, using Schiet (Low German for "Scheiße") in various forms is not considered very offensive either.

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To add to your list of rather polite expressions: A long time ago, I used Das ist doch nicht zu fassen! a lot. –  Hendrik Vogt Sep 3 '11 at 6:27
    
If you are not from Switzerland I suggest to write Scheiße with ß. –  John Smithers Sep 6 '11 at 9:22
    
@John good point - I will change that. Feel free to queue an edit yourself next time ;-) –  Jan Sep 6 '11 at 10:56
    
Well, Jan, I would, but "Edits must be at least 6 characters". Oh, you forgot one Scheisse. in the first paragraph. –  John Smithers Sep 6 '11 at 11:04
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In South Germany you can use "Sacklzement!". Its rude equivalent would be "Sakrament!".

Alternatively "Zefünferl" instead of "Zefix!". The latter one is short for "Kruzifix!", which you should definitely avoid as it's one of the rudest ways to swear that I know.

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How rude are these really? I think you're massively overestimating them. But then I'm not from the south. –  Stefano Palazzo Sep 6 '11 at 17:52
    
It does depend on the person in front of you, your current social environment and all that. But if you use "Sacklzement" or "Zefünferl" in Bavaria, people will realize that you're looking for a politer way to swear. Of course, anything in standard German would be even politer than dialect. –  Kage Sep 8 '11 at 21:26
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There are some more "beautiful" eupehmisms than the usual Scheibenkleister, which are based on a more "diplomatic" art of speech. However it depends on whether you can actually control yourself enough, whether you are the kind of person and whether people around you are capable of understand them to use them.

For example, one sentence I could use is Das ist aber zutiefst verdrießlich ("This is deeply vexed"). You should put a lot of sarcasm into it so that it's clear you are actually swearing. Since I'm known as a little freak, I can use such sentences freely, other people might be deeply misunderstood.

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+1 for "Das ist aber zutiefst verdrießlich". –  OregonGhost Sep 5 '11 at 9:41
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To be polite means, that you control your affects, and if you do so, you don't swear. Swearing is always vulgar, and if you do it polite, you're doing it wrong.

If you don't want to do it - let it be.

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good point, but what are "Scheibenkleister", "Verflixt und zugenäht" then? They dont express literal regret like "So ein Pech". I think you more describe Knigge-rules ;) which are of course the best resolution, but swearing is mostly a reflex... –  Hauser Sep 5 '11 at 10:19
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In my experience "Mist" is not very offensive. Nobody would mind if you used it even in a business meeting or social event. In fact "Mist" is the least offensive real swear word that I can think of. But don't aggravate it further by adding "verfluchter/verdammter/elender Mist".

[So ein] Mist, ich habe meine Notizen zu Hause vergessen.

Variants to express yourself on bad luck without swearing may be:

So 'was Blödes, ich habe meine Notizen zu Hause vergessen.
So ein Pech [aber auch], ich habe meine Notizen vergessen.
Ach nein! Meine Notizen sind noch zu Hause.

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3  
"Mist!" reminds me of Bernd das Brot, it can't be offense at all. –  mbx Sep 4 '11 at 9:46
    
@mbx: +1, kind of true, though a depressive bread might not be very representative :) –  OregonGhost Sep 5 '11 at 9:42
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