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

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


__ Gedanken

Ein __ Witz

__ reden

Which word could I use?

  • 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, 2011 at 14:05
  • 2
    @benrd_k: a "dirty woman" could be a woman who is slutty, dishonourable, hot or covered with dirt.
    – Tim
    May 28, 2011 at 14:11
  • 1
    Lol, +1 for "covered with dirt"
    – Deve
    May 28, 2011 at 17:46
  • 1
    unanständig oder anstößig come to mind.
    – Ingo
    Sep 8, 2011 at 16:31

5 Answers 5


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.

  • 4
    Dreckig is just much stronger than schmutzig, both in the original and in the figurative sense. May 28, 2011 at 11:42
  • But dreckig has slightly different semantics, it is more like nasty in my opinion.
    – Twinkles
    Apr 28, 2014 at 7:47

"Obszön" would be a good choice when speaking or writing in a more formal context.


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.)

  • Can you talk about "versaute Gedanken denken" and "versaut reden"?
    – Tim
    May 28, 2011 at 13:33
  • 1
    Also, would a phallus-shaped pear be a "versaute Frucht"?
    – Tim
    May 28, 2011 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. May 28, 2011 at 13:39

Schlüpfrige Gedanken.

Ein schlüpfriger Witz.

Schlüpfrig reden.

  • Is this local? dict.cc doesn't seem to list such meanings.
    – Tim
    Jun 2, 2011 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. Jun 2, 2011 at 17:18

Unflätig may also make sense as a translation:

Unflätige Worte, Gedanken

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

  • 1
    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, 2011 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. May 28, 2011 at 11:55

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