How To Break Up In 7 Languages


One thing that seems pretty universal across cultures is that people form relationships and end them. And while those endings are generally a bummer no matter where you are, some languages make them sound really harsh. Breaking up with someone is bad enough, but "crossing them out" is just cruel. Giving someone pumpkins, though? I feel like you could get over that.

The team at the language-learning app Babbel, which includes language experts from all around the world, shared slang terms for breaking up in seven different languages, and they reveal a lot about each culture. The American expression "kick them to the curb," for example, reflects poorly not only on how we treat our exes but also on how we handle garbage. ("Dumped" has similar implications.) While Europeans keep trash tucked away in barely visible bins, we sprawl it out all over the curb. Like our feelings, apparently.

If you've ever got to cut things off with an Italian, a German, a Spaniard, a Pole, a Turk, a French person, or an American, here are some other ways to describe what you're doing. But I have to warn you, you will never look at playing cards or pumpkins the same way again.

Italian: "Dare il due di picche a qualcuno" ("to give someone the two of spades")

The two of spades is considered the least valuable card in Italy, so giving it to someone is basically treating them like they're worth very little. Ouch.

German: Jemanden abschießen ("to fire someone off")

For the hardworking, regimented Germans, breaking up is a pragmatic choice. Once someone's no longer an asset to the team, they're terminated. Except in this case, they don't even get a severance package.

French: Larguer querlqu’un ("to leave someone behind")

The French don't like to waste time dwelling on the past. Once someone's out of their lives, they're out of their minds, too.

Spanish: Dar calabazas a alguien ("to give someone pumpkins")

This expression for saying "no" when someone asks you to be their significant other essentially means giving them less than your affections. No clue why it's pumpkins, but at least you can do more with them than a playing card.

Turkish: Üstünü çizdim ("I crossed them out")

The Turkish aren't fans of drama, so they prefer to think of a breakup like something as simple as crossing out a word. If only it did as little damage as a strike-through.

Polish: Zerwać z kimś ("to tear with someone")

To the sentimental Polish, forming a relationship means becoming intertwined with someone else. So, when you unravel that bond, you're tearing yourselves apart. The image alone is devastating.

American: Kick someone to the curb

Of every nationality, we Americans are probably the worst to get dumped by. We don't just tear people away from us or cross them out of our lives or give them something useless. We kick them out onto the hard, ruthless curb.

Yup, getting dumped stinks no matter who does it, but if it's gotta happen, we'd much rather it happen at the hands of a European.