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R2s Muse

It was mentioned elsewhere that having a compilation of acceptable swearing used in DA would be helpful. I'd been keeping a short running list myself, with a few general rules (Void, ok. Hell, not ok.) I'm sure you all have your own swearing head canon as well, so I thought we could share. Here's what I've gathered so far, which of course is far from complete. Other rules or phrases?

[EDIT: Updated with others' suggestions! Contribute your own! :)]

[EDIT JAN 2014: Added curse section from World of Thedas and link to GREAT summary of the "cuss" phrases from the DA:O toolset(!).]


Damn (Alistair: "Bluff called! Damn! She saw right through me." ; DA:O PC exclamation: "Damn you!")

"To the Void with that."Potential variations:"To the Black City/Fade with that;" "I'll see you in the Black City/Void first;" others that swap "Void/Fade/Black City" for "Hell")

Fade take you -- another potential variation on the 'go to hell' theme

F**k (Fiona, DA: Asunder: "F**k the Divine!")

B*tch (Saemus: "Vashedan b*tch")

Bastard (Varric: Bartrand, you nug humping bastard!)

Shit/Shite (Bethany: "Bloody runaround twisted shite of a maze"; Varric: "I shit you not.")

Son of a b*tch (Varric: "Bartrand, you son of a b*tch! ...sorry Mother...")

Balls! (Isabela)


Blight phrases:

Blighted fool!

Stupid blighter

Andrastian phrases:

Andraste's flaming sword / Andraste's sword (Potential variations:"By the sword!" "Flaming Swords!")

Flames (Aveline: "Flames! We're too late!")

"For the love of Andraste/Maker!"

Andraste's tears

Andraste's [bodypart/unmentionable]

: ass (Varric)

: great flaming ass

: granny-panties (Isabela)

: flaming knickers (Anders)

: knickerweasels (Anders)

: dimpled buttcheeks (Varric)

: tits (Bartrand)

Maker phrases:


Maker's breath [Presumably, more profane variants possible: Maker's balls, etc.]

By the Maker

Maker watch over you

Thank the Maker

Maker, yes!/no!

Maker give me strength

Maker preserve us

Maker's bloody balls!

Maker's bursting blackheads! --Blame Varric from Those Who Speak!

Other Religions:

May the Creators have mercy on you (Merrill)

By the Dread Wolf! (Merrill) (or other variations using Fen'Harel)

May the Dread Wolf take you! (Merrill)


Vashedan (Crap)

Katara, bas! (Die, thing!)

Ebost issala! (Return to dust!)

for more, check out Dragon Age Wiki "Qunari language" article. Wow - so much!


Great Ancestors (Varric: Great Ancestors, no!)

By the Stone

Stone take you

What the dust?

Sod it!




Fasta Vaas

(Fenris only curses in Tevinter, and never invokes the Maker or Creators.)


Ma feca! (crap)

Nagale! (idiot)


Mother of Mercy


Well I'll be a nug's uncle.

Varric: Holy Mother of Green Cheeses, how'd they take her down! (when Aveline goes down in battle)

Oghren: "By the ancestors tits!"

Oghren: Asschabs!

Cursing Guidance from World of Thedas (including how to insult by race):

DA World of Thedas: Common Curses (p. 27) [thanks to MinionRipley for typing it up!]

So, lad - you're getting your sight straight in your first days topside, so here's some advice: you're not just trading with kin. You're selling to all kinds of folk now, with different customs and tongues. As I've learned here, the most important part of any language is the cursing. It gets you trust. It gets you coin.

Most elves you see in the city are servants, and a human looking for a fight might call one "knife-ear." If the elf returns with "shem" or "quick," blood's about to spill. Those Dalish elves use "flat-ear" to insult the ones who live with humans - like our unenlightened kin below calling us Stone-blind up here.

Even the humans who pray to some woman they burned alive - and her god they call "the Maker" - say something when they knock their shins. It's a curse to say "Andraste's..." - well, any body part, really. "Maker's breath!" might get you in with a swaggering fool, but the lady priests won't be pleased. Chantry folk also don't like mages. If you hear a mage called a "spellbind," hide anything flammable.

Then there are all those beautiful words that just mean "Sod it!" When that loose cobblestone flips and the ankle cracks, an elf will cry, "Fenedhis!" while a human might, "Damn it!" A Qunari will mumble, "Vashedan!" I've even heard a couple Tevinters yell, "Kaffar!"

If any of these get aimed at you, hopefully all that gets killed is a sale.

-Note from Hardal, a surface merchant dwarf, to an apprentice adjusting to life outside Orzammar

Not OK:

Hell - use the Void instead (Leliana: "Only those who are worthy are brought to the Maker's side. So many other sad souls are left to wander in the void, hopeless and forever lost.") [[although, many authors just proceed with using it anyway, since sometimes... it just fits!]]


(apologies for any formatting blunders, the HTML on this site is unforgiving...)

3/15/2012 . Edited 1/3/2014 #1
The Original Frizzi

I was just going to say, where's Oghren's 'tits of my Ancestors' bit? LOL

Well, shave my back and call me an elf! xD

3/15/2012 #2

the biggest fenris fangirl didn't know fenris swore in tivinter(I hope that is spelled right)! I thought he swore in ... what was the qunari language

3/15/2012 #3

You are ridiculously awesome!

I'm really interested that they used "damn" in Origins -- I didn't think divine damnation was a concept in the Thedas religions. I've avoided using it myself for that reason.

One to potentilaly add, though I don't have an authoritative source for it -- "Fade take you." It's used a lot in fic, though I didn't find any official citations in the wiki.

ETA: the Dalish use the "Dread Wolf" or Fen'Harel -- Merrill says "By the Dread Wolf!" and "May the Dread Wolf take you!"

3/15/2012 . Edited 3/15/2012 #4
R2s Muse

Awesome. Thanks, gingergen. Added those.

Also, likikoari, I'm not a Fenris expert, but I heard those "rules" about him from other experts over on the Cheeky Monkeys forums. I'm sure there are also plausible exceptions.

I'll continue to add to the first post as suggestions come in. I haven't done a systematic study of all the characters' swearing patterns... really only the hardcore Andrastians like Cullen (*obligatory*fangirl*sigh*), so there must be more out there. :)

3/15/2012 #5

What about anything inappropriate with nugs? I'm sure "nughumper" has to be used somewhere. Also, the dwarves say "By the Stone", "Stone take you", etc. as another alternative to using their ancestors as expletives. Oh, and even though it isn't an expletive per se, highborn dwarves use the word "casteless" as a derrogatory adjective.

3/15/2012 #6

Re: Fenris and swearing -- I can't ever recall him swearing by any religion, though he does say to kill oneself is a sin in the eyes of the Maker. (I guess if the Maker's religion has a concept of sin they must also have damnation, mustn't they? I guess I've been overthinking that.) He (sort of) tells Sebastian that he's not Andrastian, though, and I don't see him swearing by the Maker or Andraste or anything else in the common tongue in the dialogue on the wiki.

And I'm sorry to be pedantic, but I just corrected this in my own stuff, so I'll note for the record that the official language of the Tevinter Imperium is actually called Arcanum. (Yes, I have spent too much time researching Fenris, why do you ask?)

Thanks so much for doing this, R2s Muse! If I think of anything else, I'll post it for you to add.

3/15/2012 #7

I know I have a way different stance on this than many people, because it's come up often ever since I was frequently writing Star Wars (and there are tons of webcomics covering this issue in that setting to hilarious effect), and you are all perfectly free to disagree with me, but...

It actually doesn't bother me at all to use common English profanities, even stuff like "hell" where "the Void" is probably more "correct" for the setting because as a reader (and writer) it often pulls me out of the flow of the story more to "auto-translate" back to the English equivalent (which I am going to mentally do). It's one thing if the character is religious and wouldn't, and I have a good handle on who those people are, but there are just phrases that slip in that have lost all religious or profane meanings a long time ago and just become part of the natural language: "what the fuck?" "omg" (though I am not so far gone that I would slip an 'omg' into Thedas!), "where the hell did that come from?"

And I mean, if we're going to be perfectly honest... nobody in that setting is probably speaking "English" anyway. So we're translating no matter what we do.

So yeah, I'll slip a "the Maker" or "Andraste" in, but you'll see all the usual four-letter words too.

3/15/2012 #8

I can see your point, karebear -- I have certainly read stories (not in the DA world) that have used "anyroad" instead of "anyway" and every time I see it I go, "huh?" because it's a pretty arbitrary swap -- there's no cultural reason for the exchange. People have been using the word "anyway" since the 13th century, so it's not tied to the modern "freeway" or anything like that. I assume the authors who do that sort of thing are trying to call attention to the fact that it is another world, deliberately different from the one we live in -- but like you, I find it distracting.

On the other hand, for me part of the fun of writing in an existing fictional world is taking on the idioms and cultural expressions of that world. Hence my interest in whether the Void is more appropriate than hell, or whether a dwarf should swear by the stone instead of Andraste.

Coincidentally, in DA2 there are the usual American swearwords all over the place, so I think they're totally appropriate for (properly rated) DA stories no matter which side of the fence you're on.

(I swear, I am not trying to take over this thread, I just have a lot of procrastinating to do. And words are fun!)

3/15/2012 #9

Don't forget my favorite of Oghren's - I have no idea it's used for other then as an exclamation - "Asschabs!"

3/15/2012 #10

I can totally see where you're coming from, karebear, and in some ways I agree. Getting really flowery with the swearing does nothing for a story but remove readers from the action. Used correctly, though, it can be a really good tool for setting the scene. Hearing (or reading, I guess) someone shout "Andraste's hairy arse" or something equally profane is probably a better indicator that they're a lowborn, scruffy man than "aw hell". Equally, if someone references the Stone, I'll be tuned in to the whole "oh, a dwarf is talking now". Even if its not a huge deal, subliminally it makes a difference for me.

Also, I can honestly say that I would be appalled to see a story where an Orzammar dwarf references hell, because culturally it doesn't make sense. They either rest within the Stone, or they don't, but they certainly don't believe in hell or damnation the way Andrastians do.

For me, the swearing is all part of the culture. I don't mind the regular words, because the characters use them anyway, but for me its the extra little cultural slips that help flesh out characters and really ground them in Thedas, rather than just a corner of my head.

3/15/2012 #11
Vanilla Aplomb

I really want to say that I've heard someone use hell in Origins, but, for the life of me, I can't remember where. I'll have to keep an eye out for that on my next playthrough.

Also, the casteless have a lot of swears they use. Play through the Dwarf Commoner origin and you'll hear a lot of them. What the dust? and Sod it!are the only ones that I can think of right now, but the casteless do swear by dirt and dust a lot.

Oh, and Varric says, "I shit you not." It is a swear, but not an exclamation, so I'm unsure if that would be appropriate here.

3/16/2012 . Edited 3/16/2012 #12

In Sneaking Cailan and Fergus use "Maker's balls!" I thought it sounded like something they would say. It's a "Maker's _____" profanity, and it's just off-color enough for the two of them. Enough to make Oriana and Anora blush, but not enough to get them sent to the Void or anything. Plus it was funny to write about them being drunk and suddenly going, "Maker's balls, man!!" XD

3/16/2012 #13

I think somewhere someone used 'Flames' as a swear in DA, but for the life of me I can't remember where... Presumably an Andrastean, so through extrapolation 'what in blazes is going on' seems like it could fit as well.

3/17/2012 #14
R2s Muse

Thanks for all the suggestions! I've edited again.

@Gingergen, yeah, I think it would be interesting to see if Fenris's sort of reconciliation with the Maker through Seb would change how he talks about it. *shrug* And, I've heard people call the language in Tevinter Arcanum, but wasn't sure if it was actually canon. In Asunder, they talk about Old Tevinter, so that's why I was using that. I hope we learn more about Tevinter eventually!

@karebear, I totally see your point. I have the same feeling when in movies people talk with accented English when obviously ancient romans/britains/summarians/etc weren't speaking English to begin with. For my $0.02, I guess I'd like to try to get the feel of their speech close enough just so that it doesn't throw people out of the story. I've heard some very stern concern about not even reading stories that get these details wrong. Of course, I also don't think anyone needs to be slavish about it. After all, even David Gaider put a reference to Tuesday in Origins, which presumably is not a day name in Thedas but merely a funny Buffy reference. :D

@Vanilla aplomb, you know I coulda sworn they said "hell" too, but when I went back to find a reference, I couldn't. So I'm now thinking that maybe the word is just too transparent to me. But, if you find one, let me know!!

@Jayrain, that made me giggle, too, imagining Cailan saying Maker's balls. I've added the Maker's bodypart defense.

@Doorbellspider, you know "flames" sounds familiar to me, too! Let me know if you find anything like that (or anyone else!), and I'll add it.

3/17/2012 #15

"even David Gaider put a reference to Tuesday in Origins, which presumably is not a day name in Thedas but merely a funny Buffy reference."

Exactly! And this is why I love Bioware - giving us permission to freely make shout-outs as geeks. I do it all the time (Portal reference in "Writing on the Wall" most blatantly, but there's stuff all over the place...)

3/17/2012 #16

Speaking of Maker's Balls, Isabela also says simply "Balls", though whether this is a shortening of the longer phrase or just an extention of the standard 4-letter-word swear, I don't know. Flames sounds familiar to me too, but I don't have a reference for it either.

Re: Arcanum -- I'm assuming it's canon, because I'm going by the Tevinter Imperium wiki page (scroll down to language).

(I can't tell if that attempt to link worked. Do links work at all in this forum? if not - http:// dragonage.wikia.com/ wiki/ Tevinter_Imperium - remove the spaces)

3/17/2012 . Edited 3/17/2012 #17
Vanilla Aplomb

DoorbellSpider: Aveline says it in the beginning of DA2. After the beginning fight, around the time the Ogre shows up, the darkspawn swarm around Hawke and Aveline and their party. Aveline says something like, "Flames! We're too late!"

Hah, I wish I had a memory like this for my classes. It woud've made my psyche exams so much easier.

3/17/2012 #18

Vanilla Aplomb - Aha! Thank you! I'm glad to know it is indeed canon. Perhaps school should test us on Dragon Age instead.

3/17/2012 #19

I can't remember who said it, but I'm sure one of the Andraste ones is "Andraste's TITS!!!"

At any rate, I once screamed that out in the middle of a university art class - it didn't go over well. Goes to show what playing that much Dragon Age does to your vocabulary!

3/17/2012 #20
Vanilla Aplomb

DoorbellSpider: I would love a DA test. Have to sign up for it quickly, though, I imagine something like that would get full pretty quickly.

christidylan: I think it was Bartrand. I'm sure he said it in the beginning of DA when Hawke and their sibling are talking to him about the expedition, and he says, "Andraste's tits, human..."

And that's awesome. DA does good things to my vocabulary. It's added a lot of swears I can use around children without them knowing what I'm talking about. Hurray!

3/17/2012 #21

For Zevran's fans:

Ma feca! (crap)

Nagale! (idiot)

They don't appear in the game, but they are in toolset. Though my Zev prefers to say "Andraste's sweet ass". :)

3/20/2012 #22
R2s Muse

Updated again. Thanks all!

Also, good catch on Flames... but this gets me thinking... what does it mean?? Is the suggestion that there are flames in the Void, sort of a "burn in hell" concept?

3/20/2012 #23
Vanilla Aplomb

R2s Muse: Maybe. It might also have to do with rage demons, which are consumed in fire, and dragons, which breathe fire and are considered a sign of chaos. Andraste was also burned at the stake unfairly. The symbolism behind fire would seem to be a wicked one.

3/20/2012 #24

More likely referring to the fact that Andraste was burned alive. And that as a result most Andrastrians (Andrasteans?) burn their dead. The reason why the flaming sword is the sign of the templar orders is related to the mercy stroke given to her by Archon Hessarian, which is also why the sword is considered a symbol of mercy in the Andrastrian religion.

At a guess the following would also make good (though not necessarily canon) sorts of exclamations and swears:

- By the sword

- Flaming swords!

- I'll see you in the Black City/Void first

- To the Black City/Fade/Void with that

Another couple canon Zev-isms:

- Braska!

- Mother of Mercy

3/20/2012 #25
R2s Muse

Ah, you know, I bet y'all are right about the Andrastian flames. That makes much more sense! Totally forgot about the whole flaming sword thing. So, moved Flames to the Andrastian phrases section, plus added MsBarrows' suggestions. Thanks!

3/21/2012 #26
Lord Amaranth

I just have one rule for swearing in anything I write (which is often because Layleth has a very extensive vocab of expletives! :D ), If a character in either Game of Thrones OR Spartacus says it, it's fine for the time period.

And I do use hell, mostly because I feel like; as a reader, I can identify with the word hell more. Like "It was like...hell..." instead of, "It was like...the void..." see, I think it loses it's 'oomph' but that's just me.

3/28/2012 #27

Is it weird to spend so much time thinking about DA swears? Anyways, it occurred to me that people in the game use various forms of the word "Blight" to swear at others, ex. "Blighted fool!" or "stupid blighter" or anything like that.

P.S. I love your policy, Lord Amaranth ;) Game of Thrones for the win!

3/30/2012 #28
R2s Muse

Thanks again everyone. Added in Blight phrases, and a point that some authors just go with what works/sounds best!

4/9/2012 #29

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Anders (or someone in Awakening) say "Andraste's Secret Girdle"? I swear that happened...

10/17/2012 #30
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