Calice: Swear Like a True Quebecer

Introduction to French Swear Words in Quebec

Calice is a remarkably versatile Quebec swear word.
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In close contention with tabernacle and hostie as the ultimate French Canadian swear word, “calice” is the French word for chalice, an adorned and elegant goblet typically associated with religious ceremony.

But in Quebec as well as across Canada where other French speakers reside, "calice" is a poster child for French profanity. Just don't expect to hear it in Europe. It's a Canadian thing.

What Does Calice Mean?

In modern-day usage, “calice” usually refers to the goblet or cup used during Catholic Mass containing red wine which, when declared holy by the attending priest, is believed by the faithful to become the actual blood of Jesus Christ.

But unlike the Body of Christ which Mass attendees get to eat, once the chalice containing the blood of Christ is proclaimed sacred and then lifted in the air, it's officially consecrated and not for public use. No one at Church gets to drink said blood other than the priest, ostensibly to prevent holy mishaps such as the Blood of Christ spilling on the floor and other such havoc, but I digress.

What Does Calice Mean as a Swear Word?

From a profane point of view, “calice” is a fairly gentle curse word. Saying "calice" is kind of like uttering “damn.”

"Calice" is also easily paired with other popular French swear words in Quebec. Think “hostie de calice!” (host of the chalice!) or “calice de tabernacle!” (chalice of the tabernacle!) or “hostie de calice de tabernacle!” (host of the chalice of the tabernacle!) or even "hostie de sacrament de calice de tabernacle!" (host of the sacramental tabernacle chalice!)

Calice, the Multi-Purpose Verb

“Calice” can also be used as a verb. And it has different meanings, depending on how it's used.

“Je m'en calice,” for example, is literally "I chalice myself," but  “I don't care” or “I don't give a damn.”

“Calice-moi la paix!” is "chalice me some peace!" which means, “leave me alone!”

“Je vais t'en calisser une, mon hostie!” is "I'm going to chalice you one, my host!" which in actuality means, “I'm going to punch you, you motherf%^#*r!”

Also, “crisse de tabernacle, ça va faire là, je calisse mon camp,” translates literally into “Christ of the tabernacle, that is done there, I'm chalicing my camp,” which actually means, “%^&$^$^&^$^%#!!!, enough already, I'm outta here.”

The verbal possibilities are seemingly endless.

How is Calice Pronounced?

Try “caugh-liss” and really draw out the "cauuuuugh" to emulate Quebec joual. For a more international accent, simply say "cah-liss." But if you want to use the word as a curse, stick with "cauuuughh." 

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