Perkele (pronounced [ˈperkele] (listen)) is a Finnish word meaning "evil spirit" and a popular Finnish profanity, used similarly to English "god damn",[1] although it is considered much more profane. It is most likely the most internationally known Finnish curse word.[2][3][4][5]


The name is of Indo-European origin; Perkwunos is the reconstructed name of the god of thunder.

Some researchers consider Perkele to be an original name of the thunder god Ukko, the chief god of the Finnish pagan pantheon,[6] but this view is not shared by all researchers.[7] There are related words in other Finnic languages: in Estonian, põrgu means hell, in Karelian perkeleh means an evil spirit.[8][9]

Introduction of Christianity

As Finland was Christianized, the old Finnish deities were regarded as demons. This led to the use of "Perkele" as a translation for "Devil" in the Finnish translation of the Bible. Later, in other translations, the word was rendered as paholainen (the evil one).[10]


  1. ^ Kielitoimiston sanakirja [Dictionary of the Language Office] (in Finnish). Kotimaisten kielten tutkimuskeskus. 2006. ISBN 952-5446-20-4.
  2. ^ "How Finns Swear and What This Tells Us About Their Culture".
  3. ^ "Finnish swearwords – a list of profanities you shouldn't know". 4 March 2015.
  4. ^ Advances in Swearing Research: New languages and new contexts. John Benjamins Publishing Company. 2017. ISBN 978-9027256874.
  5. ^ Handbook of Finnish. E-painos. 2015. ASIN B015AM7Q90.
  6. ^ Siikala, Anna-Leena (2013). Itämerensuomalaisten mytologia [Mythology of the Baltic Finns] (in Finnish). Helsinki: SKS.
  7. ^ Salo, Unto (1990). Agricola's Ukko in the light of archeology. A chronological and interpretative study of ancient Finnish religion: Old Norse and Finnish religions and cultic place-names. Turku. ISBN 951-649-695-4.
  8. ^ "Miten suomalaiset kiroilivat ennen kristinuskoa?" [How did Finns curse before Christianity?] (in Finnish). Retrieved 2015-12-25.
  9. ^ Suomen kielen etymologinen sanakirja. 3 [Etymological dictionary of the Finnish language. 3.] (in Finnish). Helsinki: Suomalais-ugrilainen seura. 1976. ISBN 951-9019-16-2.
  10. ^ "Paholainen".