I was having private/intimate time with a German lady. And as I started something really special for her (thinking that she would like it), in the heat of the moment, she said:

Du bist wirklich ein Schwein, oder?

It was not a bad action at all.

I could not ask about it in the heat of the moment, but it is still in my memory. The Duden has a very negative definition of the word Schwein and no positive definition:

  • 2a) (derb abwertend, oft als Schimpfwort) jemand, den man wegen seiner Handlungs- oder Denkweise als verachtenswert betrachtet
  • 2b) (derb abwertend) jemand, der sich oder etwas beschmutzt hat
  • 2c) (salopp) Mensch [als ausgeliefertes Geschöpf]

I am curious what a German could mean when he or she calls someone Schwein. Is it necessarily a bad word?

  • 10
    I'm really curious to know what exactly you did to elicit such a response (not expecting you would actually tell us). Unless it was something really kinky, people usually don't say something like that.
    – user32901
    May 1, 2018 at 10:44
  • 2
    Suffice to say it was something really kinky. No need to spell it out.
    – pipe
    May 1, 2018 at 20:48

6 Answers 6


It depends on the context.

  • If you call your neighbor, an officer, or someone else in the street a Schwein, it's an insult.

  • If a parent tells their child he or she is a Schwein, it usually means they are eating messily or came home all dirty from playing. This is often softened to "Ferkel" (piglet), which of course will get you an answer along the lines of "Papa, weisst du, was ein Ferkel ist? Das Kind vom alten (oder großen) Schwein!"

  • There is also an idiom "armes Schwein". In this context it's often not an insult but a very informal way of expression sympathy: "Er musste drei mal wieder zurückgehen, bis er alles geholt hatte --- das arme Schwein!"

  • In a sexual context it means something like "kinky", i.e., "Du bist ja ein Schwein" is "wow, you're kinky".

Beyond that, you obviously use the term for the actual animal.

There is also the idiom "Schwein haben" which means to have good luck ("Nochmal Schwein gehabt!"); probably from times when a pig was something valuable and when you owned one you were lucky.

  • 14
    der Schweinkramporn
    – Janka
    Apr 30, 2018 at 21:27
  • 6
    Calling a stranger a Schwein on the street (officers excepted!), unless it is because they are behaving openly immoral or unhygienic, would be more of ... something between an obvious provocation and downright comically absurd. However, "armes Schwein" could be taken as a grave, condescending insult in the wrong context - implying someone is a defenseless/naive victim, or inherently pitiably defective. Mind that "Opfer" (victim) has become a quite serious insult in Germany in recent years. Apr 30, 2018 at 22:18
  • 10
    Schwein can also be used as an expression for a highly immoral / criminal person. e.g. a wife could call her cheating husband "verlogenes Schwein" or a murderer could be called "krankes Schwein"
    – mtwde
    Apr 30, 2018 at 23:19
  • 1
    @mtwde In that case it would be an insult, not a scientific term. (Not even a popular scientific term.)
    – Robert
    May 1, 2018 at 3:56
  • 6
    "Opfer" (victim) has become a quite serious insult in Germany in recent years Only in gang circles. Just like 'Hippie' or 'Jude'. Not at all in proper language.
    – TaW
    May 1, 2018 at 7:17

The way I see it, this is not really about German: I think it would be the same in every other language. Anyway, here is my take on it.

You don't need to worry. Yes, "Schwein" is normally an insult, but it was said in a very specific context. She called you a pig because you were doing something dirty (sex always is), but on the other hand she was there with you and she was doing it with you. Also, she did not ask you to stop, did she? It means she wasn't really against it. She was trying to show appreciation. To create some complicity. To arouse you, and herself at the same time.

I suppose in your culture being called a pig is considered very offensive, to the point that you would never say it to others (unless you really mean to insult, of course). Well, this must be a cultural difference. Rest assured that she didn't mean anything offensive!

  • 1
    I'm not so sure about that, I don't know if there is a way to say the said phrase without a negative context. We should know more about that to evaluate further but I doubt the OP wants to go into details. If the OP sees this woman again he should ask her. If not ... well then don't care.
    – puck
    May 1, 2018 at 16:08
  • While this is a good interpersonal answer, it does not answer the question (what the lady meant, only the last sentence of your second paragraph mentions what she tried conveying) and seems to me off topic. May 2, 2018 at 8:49
  • @puck: Isn't the practice of "dirty talking" by definition using statements that normally have a negative meaning to create arousal, thus putting them into a positive context? May 4, 2018 at 16:53
  • Was it dirty talk? We don't know that, we don't know the context. As somebody else said, it depends. The OP was present at the situation and even he doesn't know how to rate this. So how could we? It simply isn't clear what the person wanted to express, so to get 100% clarity I'd ask.
    – puck
    May 5, 2018 at 9:13
  • @puck: We don't know the context, but it's irrelevant. I was responding to your statement "I don't know if there is a way to say the said phrase without a negative context." by pointing out that yes, there is such a way. May 5, 2018 at 15:20

I don't know much German but I'm pretty sure it's just saying that you're naughty. It would be like 'you filthy bastard' in English, normally that's a grave insult but in the particular context you mention and the way it's said it's clearly not an insult, isn't that obvious?


It's sort of "you're such a dirty old man, aren't you?". Clearly an insult, but you need to contextualize it to the situation.


Answer no. 28 (starting with "it depends on the context") is very precise. However, the situation is extremely simple: "Schwein" in German is the same word, with the same connotations, as the word "Swine" (or "Pig") in English, and is used in the same way.

  • I don't think it's the same as in English. It's much more frequently used in German than in English. I haven't heard "swine" as a cuss word at all, and "pig" very rarely. At least in US English, animal names are hardly ever used as insults. The most I can imagine would be "you eat like a pig", but "you eat like a swine" sounds very odd to me.
    – Robert
    May 2, 2018 at 23:34
  • 1
    Not sure what you mean by "answer no 28". If you want to refer to answers, you can leave a comment once you have enough reputation. Please take the tour of the site to find out how SO works and how you can build reputation.
    – Robert
    May 2, 2018 at 23:36

(The following information is not common in current German, please use it knowing that it aplies only to South Germany and is of a former time)

Personally I would go with the gender differenced South German "Saumench(Pig, in the bad sense)(Fem.), Saukerl(Masc.)". beginning with sau-

This with strangers is bad, but with friends it is only half serious and most know what you mean

Saumensch/Saukerl du dreckidges

You filthy pig

is one you will here in older German books set in the South

but keep in mind saugut can mean "very good".

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