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I'm looking for a good translation of the word dirty, in the sense of

Morally unclean; obscene or indecent, especially sexually. (Wiktionary)

E.g:

__ Gedanken

Ein __ Witz

__ reden

Which word could I use?

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Can dirty in English be applied to persons? E.g. dirty woman or is that just the title of a movie? I would hesitate to translate it with neither schmutzig nor versaut in this context. –  bernd_k May 28 '11 at 14:05
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@benrd_k: a "dirty woman" could be a woman who is slutty, dishonourable, hot or covered with dirt. –  Tim N May 28 '11 at 14:11
    
Lol, +1 for "covered with dirt" –  Deve May 28 '11 at 17:46
    
unanständig oder anstößig come to mind. –  Ingo Sep 8 '11 at 16:31
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5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

The proper translation would be schmutzig:

Er erzählte einen schmutzigen Witz

The word dreckig is less often used in this sense, but will be understood as well.

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Dreckig is just much stronger than schmutzig, both in the original and in the figurative sense. –  OregonGhost May 28 '11 at 11:42
    
But dreckig has slightly different semantics, it is more like nasty in my opinion. –  Twinkles Apr 28 at 7:47
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"Obszön" would be a good choice when speaking or writing in a more formal context.

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Another related alternative would be “versaut”, literally “spoiled”, and with much the same connotation.

The difference between the German “versaut” and English “spoiled” – and the reason why it can also be used in the sense of “dirty” – is this: A “spoiled joke” is a joke badly told. But a “versauter Witz” (usually) means a dirty joke.

(Likewise, you can’t say “das ist eine versaute Frucht” to warn somebody off eating a spoiled apple.)

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Can you talk about "versaute Gedanken denken" and "versaut reden"? –  Tim N May 28 '11 at 13:33
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Also, would a phallus-shaped pear be a "versaute Frucht"? –  Tim N May 28 '11 at 13:34
    
@Tim “versaute Gedanken” – definitely! Same for “reden”, though this would be used much less frequently. And yes, the phallus-shaped pear (or Shakespeare’s poperin pear) is the example of a versaute Frucht. –  Konrad Rudolph May 28 '11 at 13:39
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Schlüpfrige Gedanken.

Ein schlüpfriger Witz.

Schlüpfrig reden.

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Is this local? dict.cc doesn't seem to list such meanings. –  Tim N Jun 2 '11 at 17:14
    
@Tim I don't know. I've only heard it being used and used it myself in the meaning of "[sexually] dirty". dict.leo.org lists a couple of English translations matching that meaning (afaics). It's a pretty informal term though. "schlüpfrig " auto-completes to "schlüpfrige witze" / "schlüpfrige gedichte" (among others) on google. –  Johannes Schaub - litb Jun 2 '11 at 17:18
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Unflätig may also make sense as a translation:

Unflätige Worte, Gedanken

For some uses (e.g. joke), it's used less often today though.

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To me, unflätig has a meaning that's closer to "rude" than to "sexually suggestive" - though obviously, the latter will be the former to some people. Unflätig is also more disapproving than schmutzig or dreckig, which can, like "dirty", be used without passing judgment, or even approvingly. –  fzwo May 28 '11 at 11:52
    
@fzwo: True. Yet it may be an appropriate translation for dirty. Some dictionaries also list it (e.g. dict.cc). Look at the definition in the question, morally unclean is very subjective. It can also be used humorously - then it may actually also express approvement. –  OregonGhost May 28 '11 at 11:55
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