Is there a modern equivalent to the archaic expression "fie on thee"?

I'm aware of expressions such as "damn you" and the like, but I'm looking for something less strong.

  • How strong do you think 'fie on thee' was?
    – tunny
    Nov 13, 2014 at 21:34
  • @tunny Not very, many dictionaries define it as something along the lines of used to express mild disgust, disapprobation, annoyance, etc.. Nov 13, 2014 at 21:37
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    "Darn you! Darn you to heck!"
    – Hellion
    Nov 13, 2014 at 21:51
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    I think a more modern equivalent is "Shame on you".
    – rogermue
    Nov 14, 2014 at 3:13
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    @medica As others I don't know anything of the original meaning, except that it is an expression of disgust and displeasure.The German equivalent is pfui. German DWDS which contains the etymological dictionary of Pfeiffer only gives the information that the sound existed already in Latin and Old Greek. Pfeiffer takes it the expression is "lautmalend", onomatopoetic, imitating a sound. But that doesn't tell much. What kind of sound is there to imitate?? I always guessed the word had the meaning "(it) stinks", maybe said to a dog meaning don't eat it. Only a guess.
    – rogermue
    Nov 14, 2014 at 5:08

4 Answers 4


According to Etymology online, fie (late 13c) was

a general sound of disgust that seems to have developed independently in many languages.

So, today, it seems a good correlation would be the tsk-tsk sound one makes with their tongue on hearing something they disapprove of. (Maybe the Brits say Tut!, but I don't know. I think of Winnie the Pooh when I hear that.)

Another exclamation still used for the same purpose is

pshaw (interj.) exclamation of contempt or rejection, by 1670s.

I've heard people "say" pffft! or hmmph! for the same reason.

  • 6
    I rarely address down voters, but to you, I say pffft! Nov 14, 2014 at 1:57

The only response I can think of that isn't very strong that I have actually heard a lot is to thank the other person very sarcastically. eg:

"Thanks ... a lot!"

(delivered with no smile and unwavering eye-contact)


How about using "piffle" as a synonym for "fie" -- that's still used, though admittedly less common and arguably old-fashioned.

  • We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Please explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.
    – NVZ
    Mar 16, 2017 at 18:20

To me it is a mild curse. "Fie on you" means something in-between "a curse on you" and "I don't care what you say, you rascal."

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