Perkele Meaning


Perkele is most likely the most internationally known Finnish word along with the word Sisu. However, it is much more than just a curse word. It is a word that can be used in just about every situation and it just works.

We named our shop after the name Perkele so it must be pretty damn special. On this page we try to explain what Perkele means.
Perkele has a history of being used as a curse: a cry for the god for strength. It still is a common curse word in vernacular Finnish. But it has become so popular that it has passed the state of being considered as a curse word or a swear word. And it is still a word us Finns love to teach foreigners and see how they pronounce it.

Origin of the word Perkele

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

To a Finn, the word entails seriousness and potency that more lightly used curses lack. Also, when the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland held a popular contest to nominate the "most energizing" word in the Finnish language, one of the suggestions was Perkele because "it is the curse word that gave the most strength for the reconstruction of Finland after the wars."

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).

Modern day Perkele

Perkele is mostly used as an empowering word, not necessarily even a swear word. Finnish metal band Impaled Nazarene released an album called "Suomi Finland Perkele" back in 1994 and that has been used very widely ever since. Even Finland Forever has our own Suomi Finland Perkele design. But basically the only meaning of Perkele that is left to modern day is the spoken word but it is used far and wide. It shouldn't be related to devil on these days anymore.


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