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There is a curse/ swear in Persian that literally means " May your head be covered by soil" and implies that " you'd better die and be buried /be underground!"( you are not important). We use it in situations we are angry at someone specially when they haven't done something important they were supposed to do or they had done something very stupid or wrong ; or something intolerable/ inhuman (of course when we use it we don't really mean it and we don't really wish death for that person ( except for the criminals), it is just a kind of belittling statement to show our anger, hatred, disgust or dissatisfaction).

Examples:

1-Suppose you (as my sister ) have asked me to buy your anti-hypertension medicine on my way home, but I totally forget about it. When you ask me " did you get my pills?" I reply calmly " Ah, your pills?!! Oh! no, I forgot about it; but I will buy them tomorrow." Then you would say:"I knew that I can't count on you, may your head be covered by soil! You're good for nothing!"

2- You have told me a secret and has asked me not to disclose it to mom, but some day I tell that issue to the mom and thus she scolds you a lot! Then you say angrily to me " You have got such a big mouth! May your head be covered by soil! I shouldn't have trusted you!"

3- I hear in the news that ISIS has killed many innocent people in Iraq. When I see the heartbreaking pictures from their crimes, I say " may their heads ( ISIS's members' heads) be covered by soil, they are not human! May the God destroy them completely " ( in this case I really wish death for ISIS!).

Is there any idiom/ phrase/ saying in English that can convey the same meaning ?

I have found "Die in a fire!" (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Die+in+a+fire), can I use it for that Persian curse/ swear?

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+1 lol, did not expect anyone to ask for an equivalent of this one! – Mehrdad Apr 8 at 6:31
    
:))), Yes, @Mehrdad, but I had to find an equivalent for that, so I asked it. – Soudabeh Apr 8 at 7:37
    
Haha, yeah. I'd say it'd be nice if you could go back and add the Farsi versions of each idiom you ask about (maybe as a footnote)... some of them are really difficult to un-translate! Also, because it makes them easy to Google for those looking for equivalents. (The closer you keep it to the slang the way it's said in speech, the better. =P) – Mehrdad Apr 15 at 8:40
    
@Mehrdad, I have noticed that most the equivalents that I find by googling are not that correct, so I prefer to ask them here and have the reliable answers from native speakers. I know that some idioms have no exact equivalents in English, so I try to give understandable examples in my questions so that I can find what might English speakers say in these situations. I really really enjoy having all these colorful answers to my questions. :) – Soudabeh Apr 15 at 8:47
    
I'm confused, why does that imply you shouldn't write the Farsi version that you're trying to translate...? When you don't do it, it makes the question only useful for you and useless for other Farsi speakers who want to find the translation just like you -- partly because they can't actually find your question on Google when they search for the Farsi expression, and partly because their verbatim translation to English (like the ones you post here) almost certainly won't match yours. – Mehrdad Apr 15 at 8:52

22 Answers 22

up vote 30 down vote accepted

The simple, all-purpose imprecation in U.S. English is "Drop dead!"—which is, of course, the usual stage before the soil-on-head stage. Christine Ammer, The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms (1997) has this entry for the phrase:

drop dead An expression of anger, rejection, or indignation toward someone. For example, I should do all that work for you? Drop dead! This rude imperative is usually hyperbolic, that is, the speaker is not literally asking someone to die on the spot. {c. 1930}

Ammer then goes on to observe that drop-dead as an adjective, as in "drop-dead gorgeous," doesn't mean anything insulting: "Rather it means 'dazzling' or 'awe-inspiring'..."

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+1 for mentioning how "drop dead" works in other contexts. – Sumyrda Feb 5 at 7:24

Although I am not aware of an exact English equivalent of the Persian curse, "To rot in hell" is a pejorative and used to aggressively retort to infuriating situations.

Usage:

What? You forgot to get my anti-hypertension medicine? And you ratted me out to Mom?!?

You know what? You and ISIS should just burn and rot in hell!!

Update:

As some users have pointed out in comments, this is too harsh for OP's first two examples. I suggested this response for all the combined scenarios mentioned by OP. I would recommend that readers use their own discretion before using this phrase for relatively minor inducements.

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:)), thanks again , specially for using it in my examples, very useful , @Biscuit Boy. Happy to learn it. – Soudabeh Feb 4 at 6:19
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You're welcome! I do feel that Urban Dictionary is a better place than English SE, that is, if you're looking only to curse and swear at people! – BiscuitBoy Feb 4 at 6:21
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"Rot in hell" certainly fits the ISIS example, but sounds way to harsh for the first 2 examples. It's a very aggressive phrase in English. – Tom.Bowen89 Feb 4 at 9:15
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@Tom.Bowen89 - Yes, of course. I have mentioned that you use this phrase to "aggressively retort" and I combined all the OP's examples into one to indicate the height of anger. Obviously, any sane person in my opinion wouldn't curse their own sister to rot in hell for mistakes as trivial as these. – BiscuitBoy Feb 4 at 10:18
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I definitely agree with the others that I wouldn't say this to my sister... It would be way too angry/aggressive/I-hate-your-guts. I don't recommend it for normal use. – Numeri Feb 4 at 13:26

One of the simple, all-purpose imprecations is go to hell:

Inf. to go to hell and suffer the agonies therein. (Often a command. Caution with hell.) 'Oh, go to hell! Go to hell, you creep!'

You can replace hell with the devil or the dickens.

Very similar to what Biscuitboy suggested, but you could consider using burn in hell:

Statement of anger directed at someone in contempt, especially after that individual had done something very wrong.

Example usage:

ISIS has killed many innocent people in Iraq. They should go to hell and burn in hell!

[Wikipedia, McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs]

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This might actually be casual enough to use in the asker's examples, while still retaining the idea of the person dying. – DCShannon Feb 4 at 20:11

In Britain, if you're very angry with someone, you might tell them to fuck off and die.

That phrase doesn't appear in any reputable idiom references (only urban dictionary).

However, it is certainly in use, as demonstrated by the esteemed mayor of our beloved capital:

Mayor of London whilst out riding his bike tells black-cab driver to 'fuck off and die - and not in that order!'

Boris Johnson filmed swearing at taxi driver in London, The Guardian, 18th June 2015

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fuck off and die, is a compound to two smaller curses: "fuck off" meaning to go away/leave me alone, and then "die". So its not a great match, to just "die and be buried" – oxinabox Feb 4 at 11:52
    
"Fuck off" isn't really something you'd say in the contexts given. "You forgot my medicine?" would generally be followed by "fuck you" rather than "fuck off", though it's not absolute. On the other hand, I've never heard the usage "I wish they'd just go fuck themselves" concerning a third party. I have heard "they said you have to pay extra for that", replied to with "well, they can go fuck themselves", but it's not really the same meaning. The former is a general curse, while the latter is a response to an action directed at the speaker, even if only by proxy. – MichaelS Feb 5 at 6:01
    
F* You: Pointedly directed at the recipient. F* Off: this is a FU plus the direction to go away F* Me: you are so stupid i am dumbfounded. F* Them: their opinions don't matter – Joel M Ward Apr 29 at 17:16

You can always tell someone to: "Take a long walk off a short pier"

Link also makes mention of: "Go play in traffic"

The relative, uh, deadliness of either option is certainly debatable; that said, they are often used to communicate a very strong desire for a person to remove themselves in as unpleasant/dangerous a manner as possible.

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One phrase that's very similar to your original is take a dirt nap.

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Yes, and thanks,@user1359. It exactly means " to die and be buried", but can I use it as an imprecation too? :) – Soudabeh Feb 4 at 14:59
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Yes, you can, but I think it's not as strong as common in English as the original phrase is in Persian. I think it's primarily a New York area saying, but I don't have evidence of that. Something more common an pithier would be just "Drop Dead". – user1359 Feb 4 at 15:16
    
I see, @user1359, can I say " Go and take a dirt nap!" ( for 1st and 2nd example) and " May they take a dirt nap soon"(for ISIS example) ? :) – Soudabeh Feb 4 at 15:33
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This is just my personal thoughts: In American English we would just say "Take a dirt nap!" or "Why don't you take a dirt nap?". The form "May they..." is too formal and sounds like a translation. I would say "They should all..." or "I hope they all..." – user1359 Feb 4 at 15:39
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Thanks for your explanations, @user1359. Happy to learn this slang phrase/ idiom. :) – Soudabeh Feb 4 at 15:43

A typical, useful expression , though probably less strong than the one you are suggesting, is:

God damn you:

  • Used to express anger or annoyance with someone.

(ODO)

  • God damn you, why did you not buy my medicine? Why did you give my secret away?
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Thanks, @Josh61. We have exactly this expression in Persian too, and we also use it in this situations, sometime with this curse I mentioned in my post. :) – Soudabeh Feb 4 at 6:12
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This is the answer that is most on par for the first 2 examples. All the rest are way too harsh. – Tom.Bowen89 Feb 4 at 9:16
    
A slightly less vulgar expression would be "Dammit!", as in "Dammit! You know I need that medicine or I'll have a stroke!", or "Dammit! I told you not to tell mom that my new boyfriend is the president of the local Hell's Angel's chapter!" – Bob Jarvis Feb 5 at 16:20

I'd probably go with "eat shit and die" (Urban Dictionary) since it covers atonement and belittlement first before telling them to die.

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And that's what "soil" can also imply :) – rackandboneman Feb 7 at 20:04

To convey the idea of not wanting to see the faulty person anymore, you may say:

Get out of my sight!

It is less harsh than saying that you want to see him six feet under (i.e. you want him drop dead).

Example: 'You think this is funny?' Mr Zhao bellows. 'Your stupid trick has destroyed my restaurant, my livelihood – and you think it's one big joke? Get out of my sight before I do something I shall regret.

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No, it is equivalent for: از جلوی چشمم گمشو. – user64617 Apr 15 at 9:52

"Die in a fire" does convey much of the meaning you are describing with your Persian curse. However, as far as I'm aware, it's a fairly new phrase. So it will be understood literally, rather than as a general phrase, especially if you're talking to older people.

Of note, many people have very different thresholds for what is considered "extreme". A number of comments on this page express concern that phrases involving death are far too serious to say to a family member or similar. On the other hand, I've had people say things like "I hope you die of neck cancer" while playing video games, and to them it's just word play that they assume is obviously hyperbolic for effect.

(The fun one there is to mention that I'm actually undergoing treatment for neck cancer and get my own laughs while they try to profusely apologize, before I let them know I really don't care. It's not like they actually gave me cancer with silly words.)

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Thanks, @MichaelS, You're right, The new generations have their own way of speaking. As for the curses, I think that they are just used for belittling the audience, no matter where in the world they are used.They are just part of our reactions. You seem to be a strong person, I really hope you recover soon and continue helping us by answering our questions. :) – Soudabeh Feb 5 at 7:03
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There's also the strong version "Die in a grease fire" abbreviated DIAGF – Kevin Feb 5 at 15:39

You're going to be pushing up daises!

The humorous idea is that when you are in the grave, daisies (small flowers) that grow on the ground above you will actually have their stems lengthen not from natural growth, but from you pushing on their long stems from underground.

This phrase was much more common in the 1800s and early 1900s.

pushing up (the) daisies

to be ​dead

source: Cambridge Dictionaries Online

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There's the straightforward "I hope you die" (and at Urban Dictionary).

Not quite as aggressive as directly telling someone to die, or implying that you're the one who's going to kill them.

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We have exactly the same expression in Persain too, thanks,@DCShannon. – Soudabeh Feb 4 at 20:20

I'm not entirely sure where this aphorism came from. It's in print though; it's on my the refrigerator at my parents' house. I think it matches the tone and pace of your phrase while being wholly American.

May your legs curl up in such a manner, that your asshole whistles the Star Spangled Banner

This is probably something that you might have written in an autograph book of someone you didn't like in the 19th to early 20th century.

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It's not modern English, but if you're feeling decidedly overdramatic, the classic Shakespearean insult Infirm of Purpose is the only thing that sprung to mind for me. This expression comes from Shakespeare's play "Macbeth" in which the evil Lady Macbeth uses it to chastise her husband for feeling remorse over killing the King, paralleling your first example.

Macbeth: I am afraid to think what I have done; Look on't again I dare not.
You: Ah, your pills?!! Oh! no, I forgot about it; but I will buy them tomorrow.

Lady Macbeth: Infirm of purpose!
Your sister: I knew that I can't count on you, may your head be covered by soil! You're good for nothing!

You'll never hear anyone in a colloquial setting in modern English, but it should be recognized by anyone moderately familiar with Shakespeare. If you do choose it, you may be understood better if you address the person directly, i.e.

You are an infirm of purpose!

Instead of the verbatim

Infirm of purpose!

Note: "infirm" literally means sick or disabled, so you're basically saying that the person you're addressing is useless or perhaps afflicted by a weakened or horrible purpose (such as ISIS).

Honestly I'd be surprised if too many people found this idiomatic, at least in America, but if you say it with enough force I think it has a certain flair to it that warrants being brought up. And if you're questioned about it, you'll probably look smart for quoting Shakespeare :)

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Interesting! +1, @ApproachingDarknessFish, thanks for your explanations. I think it conveys that "belittling" sense which is hidden in that Persian curse. – Soudabeh Feb 5 at 11:41
    
"Infirm of purpose” is more specific—she's specifically chastising Macbeth for shrinking away from the purpose (=goal) he'd previously committed to. – David Moles Feb 5 at 22:41

I like “die in a fire”, but “I hope you die in a fire” isn't something I'd say to my sister, if I wanted to stay on speaking terms with her. I'm much more likely to use that in an anonymous situation, like “I hope whoever [did X bad thing] dies in a fire” or “Whoever came up with [X bad idea or policy] can die in a fire.”

“Go to hell” (or “you can go to hell”) is good if you're angry with somebody, particularly if they want something from you and you want to make it absolutely clear they're not going to get it. “Fuck off and die” has a similar connotation but is even stronger—and is also more colloquial. (“Drop dead” also has a similar connotation but sounds a bit old-fashioned—from a time when there were no swear words on television.)

I think the closest analogy for the situations that are more about contempt or disgust than rage might be calling somebody a waste of space—implying that the space taken up by the person's body would be better used for literally anything else.

You'll also sometimes hear “a waste of good air”, implying that the air the person breathes should be saved for somebody else, even though air is free. (“A waste of good X” is a common construction—a certain kind of movie action hero might shoot a contemptible villain and then say something like “waste of a good bullet.”)

To my sister, though, I'd probably just say “What is your problem???” or “What is wrong with you???”—not expecting an answer, more implying that the answer is beyond mortal understanding. :)

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Nice explanation! ,+1, @David Moles. We use another idiom that implies "a waste of space", and sometime we use it in situations like my 1st example. :) – Soudabeh Feb 6 at 5:35

It seems the phrase is more frequently intended to convey the target's uselessness or laziness rather than a desire for their literal death (though I see in #3 that it is more literal there), if I interpret it correctly. For #1 and #2, my response might be "Seriously?! Useless!" "Seriously?!" implying a great disbelief in such obvious stupidity or ineptitude, and "Useless!" implying the target's uselessness. If I wanted to literally wish death on evil individuals, I would say "Death can not come fast enough for you/them". If I wanted to wish great punishment or suffering where no mortal justice is likely, I would say "May you/they rot/burn in hell forever" or just "Rot/burn in hell".

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Thanks,@JenVander, +1, I like your answer because you have included your possible real reaction to those situations too. Yes, it mostly used for belittling the audiance, in examples 1&2 it implies that you're good for nothing but dying. :D – Soudabeh Feb 6 at 18:30

Soil could allude to faeces, such as "to soil oneself". So this could possibly equate to "shithead" as in "You total shithead!"

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"Go die in a hole" is very close to that, and is a relatively common thing to say to someone.

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If you allow younger-generation slang, a better translation of your idiom is the (sarcastic) phrase "good game!", often just abbreviated as "GG!".

Example:

Oops... I forgot to bring the keys!

...wow! GG!

Compare with the Farsi version:

!آخ... کلید را یادم رفت بیارم

!عجب! خاک تو سرت...

Nobody would say "rot in hell!" or "drop dead!" in these situations!

Edit:

Sometimes, you can also reply with:

...wow. Get lost!

It's less slang, but it can also be more rude unless you're really good friends with the other person... but that's the same as with the original Farsi expression.

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May the fleas of a hundred thousand camels infest every orifice of your body...I don't know if it is Arabic or Persian.I am sure both would would approve nonetheless. A guy from Lebanon said it to me years ago.

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May God have mercy upon your soul. –Wiki

The sentence of this court is that you will be taken from here to the place from whence you came and there be kept in close confinement until [date of execution], and upon that day that you be taken to the place of execution and there hanged by the neck until you are dead. And may God have mercy upon your soul.


"I knew that I can't count on you, you idiot! May god have mercy on your soul! You're good for nothing!"

Spoken in the correct tone it means: I wish you to "be taken to the place of execution and there hanged by the neck until you are dead."

As for ISIS: Kill 'em All and Let God Sort 'Em Out and let it be left up to Him to have mercy upon their souls (because I sure wouldn't).

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This would be extremely over-dramatic in the scenarios given. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 4 at 11:16

I don't think it means that you may die and/or be buried. In ancient Persia Jerusalem and even Arab it was a tradition, usually an expression of extreme loss, that on the death of a loved one, or a very respected member of the community, the mourners would put dust and sometimes ashes in their heads. So the curse actually means that the 'cursee' may experience great loss. The original phrase is

khaak bar sar am

خاک بر سرم

And no. I know of no English equivalent

putting of soil in head in hebrew culture

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Thanks for your reply, @user51666, But there are two idioms : خاك بر سر كسي كردن : to bury someone; and خاك بر سر كسي شدن:to experience a great loss ( losing a family member, job, properties, .... خاك بر سرم:could convey these two connotations depending on the situation, Here in my question I'm talking about "khaki bar saret konand , bemiri! " خاك بر سر : ، صفت ) آنکه خاک بر سر او ریزند . 2 - پست ذلیل فرومایه . 3 - دشنامی است کسان را . – Soudabeh Feb 5 at 5:40
    
This site being English Language and Usage, answers about other languages are not relevant. – AndyT Feb 5 at 16:45

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