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10 Most Common Swear Words and Expressions in Arabic Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in Arabic Language, Culture, Current Affairs, Language

Marhaba! You all know by now that our posts are PG rated and we’ve never ventured into a discussion of Arabic curses and swear words. Well, we’ve discussed several ways to express anger in Arabic, but I am pretty sure some of you are interested in learning some of the most common swear words in Arabic. It is another side of any language. My apologies to those who might be uninterested in learning these swear words, but I was inspired by the fact that most of my friends always ask me to teach them to swear in Arabic, because they’ve heard that we can get pretty creative. Another source of inspiration for this post comes from a colleague at the Transparent Chinese blog. I want to thank Sasha for really reminding me that most new language learners “seek out profanity when learning a new language,” and that creativity in swear words cuts across languages lines and at most times revolve around similar themes.

Image from Flickr

Image from Flickr

Most swear words in Arabic are either family or sex related. Other swear words or insults are just based on general gruesome things, such as feces or something similar. As always a word of caution is in order: be careful how and when you use any of these swear words. You never know how things might unravel after you’ve uttered one of these powerful and profane words.

Family Related

You can realize from the post on expressing anger in Arabic that venting off usually involves bashing the person’s family (العائلة), specifically the parents (الأهل) or siblings (الإخوة). Most insults and Arabic swear words and expressions center on this important fact and in some instances combine parents and siblings in one curse or insult.

1) Kess Ikhtak Pronounced as: KISS EKH-TAK

This is the common equivalent of “f*** your sister” or “damn it,” when a person is pretty annoying or partly before two get in a fistfight. It literally means “your sister’s vagina.” This pretty much bashes the person’s ‘honor’ (شرف) because you’re referring to his sister’s genitals.

2) Kess Ommak Pronounced as: KISS OM-MAK

This builds on the previous insult, but this literally means “your mom’s vagina.” This is the common equivalent of “f*** your mom.” This is an escalation from the sister insult because in some instances an individual might not have a sister (أخت) but definitely has a mother (أم).

3) Ya Ibn el Sharmouta Pronounced as: YA EBEN AL SHAR-MOO-TA

It literally means “son of a bitch,” and is used to bash both the individual and his mother.

Image from Flickr

Image from Flickr

Sex Related

Many swear words in Arabic center on genitals, sex, prostitution etc.

4) Ayreh Feek Pronounced as: AY-REE FEE-K

This is the common equivalent of “fuck you” or “screw you.” This is a common expression between friends or prior to a gruesome fistfight. It literally means “my penis in you.”

5) Telhas Teeze Pronounced as: TEL-HAS TEE-ZEE

This is the common equivalent of “kiss my ass.” This literally means “lick my ass,” and is also used between friends or when someone is trying to mock or belittle another person in the group.

6) Ya Sharmouta Pronounced as: YA SHAR-MOO-TA

This literally means “you bitch,” and is supposedly uttered to bash someone in the group or simply to demean someone.

Image from Flickr

Image from Flickr

Misc. Related

These are swear words from common animal names and such.

7) Ya Kalb Pronounced as: YA KA-LIB

This literally means “you dog,” and is uttered to degrade someone as being filthy, dishonest, or immoral.

8) Tozz Feek Pronounced as: TOZ FEEK

This literally means “screw you,” and is used to vent off against someone annoying.

9) Kol Khara Pronounced as: KOL KHA-RA

This literally means “eat shit,” and is used to shut up someone who goes on and on about trivial issues.

10) Ya Khara Pronounced as: YA KHA-RA

This literally means “you shit,” and is used to demean someone. It could be used between friends or before getting into a fight with someone. This is usually a lower end curse.

This list could go on and on and does encompass different dialects. Again, be careful when, why, and how to use them. Any of these could get you into serious trouble. Use them wisely and tread lightly. Take it easy!


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About the Author:jesa

Salam everyone! Born as an American to two originally Arab parents, I have been raised and have spent most of my life in Beirut, Lebanon. I have lived my good times and my bad times in Beirut. I was but a young child when I had to learn to share my toys and food with others as we hid from bombs and fighting during the Lebanese Civil War. I feel my connection to Arabic as both a language and culture is severing and so it is with you, my readers and fellow Arabic lovers, and through you that I wish to reestablish this connection by creating one for you.


  1. Eva:

    This is an interesting post. I’m learning Arabic, and I don’t think I’m going to use these words. But it is interesting to understand the meaning anyway. Thanks!

  2. Yannis Haralambous:

    Related to the first two insults you described, here is a true story that happened to the cousin of a good friend of mine. She was working at Olympic Airways, and was sent to some country of the Persian Gulf to work at Olympic Airway’s offices there. A week later she was back from that country. The reason? Her family name is Κοσσιφίδου, which is pronounced KOSS-IF-ITHOU… I guess you know what this means in Arabic.

    And what can I say about my own family name Χαραλάμπους which is pronounced KHARA-LAMBOUS, the first part of it appears in some of your examples above…

  3. Miles:

    My Syrian friends were nice enough to teach me inappropriate phrases

    بدك نَيْكْ بِعَصاية كْرَيْكْ
    Bidek nake bi-Asyut krake
    You need a F-ing with a shovel handle

    اشْرَف واحد منهُن عَرْصة
    Ashrof waHad min-hon ArSah
    The best one among them is a fucker

    انت جاجة، أنا ديك، انت طوبز، أنا نيك
    Intay jajay, ana deek, intay Tow-biz, Ana neek
    You’re the hen, I’m the rooster, you bend over, I fuck

    Good times

    • Evana:

      @Miles I found the last one so catchy I can’t stop saying it xD

      • jesa:

        @Evana Salam, that’s good! But please use any of these words with caution 🙂

      • Adrien:

        @Evana that is funny! it rhymes!

  4. Art Browning:

    This reminds me of a long time ago, back in 1977, when my friend and I were talking Arabic classes in Tripoli, Libya. (There were several young Palestinian ladies in the class; they knew Arabic, but a different dialect, and were auditing the class to get up to speed with the Libyan dialect.) We were several weeks into the class and were practicing sentence construction. The exercise given to us was to say what kind of sandwich we like. My friend want to say he likes bread and butter, so he said, “Uhibbu khubs wa zib” when he should have said “zibda” for butter: أنا أحب الخبز والزبدة. The girls snickered and tittered. When we got home, we asked a Libyan friend why, and he told us that “zib” is slang for penis.

    • jesa:

      @Art Browning Salam Art. A very interesting and funny story!! thanks for sharing. It happens to most new Arabic learners, but in any case, I always ask all new learners to use these curse and swear words with utmost caution.

  5. Lu,ay:

    thank you for this valuable information, but I think we can not use these swearwords in our research papers. For me as MA student this is an unacceptable to use such words in my thesis I asked to avoid cussing and cursing.

    • jesa:

      @Lu,ay Salam! I totally agree. These are not to be used in academic work or any other work. It’s a form of cultural expression, although in an impolite manner.

  6. JATIN:


    • jesa:

      @JATIN You’re welcome Jatin. But please careful when you use them. 🙂

      • faiez:

        @jesa Hy jesa…..I just want to know that how can I learn arabic language ……..I mean that I live in india so it is really difficult to learn arabic because no one speak arabic in india so how we learn arabic language fully not just2 to 8 words……..full arabic


    As i was searching curses in arabic and found this one. My husband is a lebanese and im not. We were crazy that one day we talked to each other cursing in arabic while me of course i only know 2 or 3 curses in arabic.. Now i got more 7 curses to throw at him..so basically were just messin up with each other no harmful intended.

    • jesa:

      @VICTORIA Hehehhe Victoria!! please please use them with caution or simply avoid using them 🙂

  8. John A:

    I grew up in a Syrian centered family in an Arab neighborhood in Brooklyn NY. Many years ago (1960’s) I worked as a cash register clerk in an A&P store. An older Arab woman cut the line to the cash register and I asked her to go to the back of the line. She responded “telhas bukshee” (lick my asshole) to which I replied “inti telahsi lahalek!”…..go lick it your self. She was so embarrassed that she left the line and disappeared back into the store. I don’t know that she ever left!

    • jesa:

      @John A Very interesting story John. thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Stephanie:

    I like these words, however, my husband is NOT keen with me learning the curse words. Now, I can talk to his family when they want to argue with me.

    • jesa:

      @Stephanie Hahaha sounds goods Stephanie! but please please use them with caution or just try to avoid using them 🙂

  10. LIDHIN K:

    Jesa really thank u.. Im working in qatar as an accountant in a supermarket.. So allmost days there will be a problem with customers.. So i think i should learn these.. Because they people mostly using these worda.. Now i know the meaning.. I can reply to them….

  11. thanks:

    Thanks, i can now try to listen for when my super rude arabic speaking neighbors are talking smack, and respond with an insult to his mother!

  12. Ray:

    I was adapted by Lebanese. I’m a white boy or American. I love the language and the cuisine. I still remember some of the language. My grandma used to cuss at us when we were little brats in Arabic. But in spite of everything said and done she was a fine person. I like your post. Learning new and old words. Thanks

  13. Nůzha:

    Salam Jesa…I came across your blog by chance and have to say you have made my day…This is the stuff i grew up with and these are the first words i heard and learnt from babyhood – dad the Egyptian always swearing and cursing in Arabic..Needless to say my mum the prim and proper English lady the complete opposite …Thank you for being so literal and so real…From Downunder Sydney

  14. Hal:

    I think it’s important to learn curse words in any language especially if you are going to live and communicate with the natives. It can serve you a great deal so you don’t get taken advantage or made fun of.
    When I came to the US I didn’t speak English, but I was fluent in Spanish, French and Arabic. I did learn all of the curse words but NEVER used them, I don’t use curse words at all, I can express myself with other choices of words to make my point. Curse words aren’t funny nor offensive to me, it just reflect certain people’s choice of words.
    Matter of fact my students always do ask me to teach them curse words, I say you can look them up, but remember that the meaning and the consequences differ from one culture to another. Someone made a comment about me in a bagel shop to his coworker in Arabic when I asked him politely if he could pour hot water on the tea bag before the cold milk, he turned to his coworker and asked “what is she saying?”, the other one said “she think you are goofy and you don’t know how to make tea and she is the goofy one” then gave me my bag and wished me a good day, I wished him the same and left. So you never know who you could offend!!
    As Art Browning mentioned, each country has it own slang and expressions, the curse words mentioned above are not based on the Arabic language (Fosha) but rather they come from our different dialects.
    I find similarities between others languages as well: my friend from Spain was pointing at peanut and said that she wanted el maní. My other friend whom speaks Arabic had a horrified look on her face, since it means sperm in Arabic. I always use el cacahuate, cacahuete instead of El maní. Same thing with the word “seal” Spanish “la foca”, French “le foque” the American students always ask how do you say “seal” in French or in Spanish.
    languages are fun after all, thank you for the interesting article and those priceless comments:)

  15. Carolyn:

    My Lebanese-American dad was a math teacher. One day he had a particularly dense student and muttered “hmoor” under his breath. The student loudly proclaimed, “Mr. Fatooh! You just called me a donkey!” Oops. Dad had no idea the kid knew Arabic. This was actually a milder story. Another was about our grandfather “jidduh” telling a customer in his store “shit on your moustache” in Arabic. Too bad I can’t remember the word for moustache. The phrase could have been handy a few times. Unfortunately, about all the Arabic we learned at Sitti and Jidduh’s house was swear words and food names.

    • jesa:

      @Carolyn Salam Carolyn,

      Very interesting stories! Thanks for sharing them.
      The Arabic word for mustache is: شارب

      Hope this helps. Stay in touch.

  16. Oksana:

    Thank you for all the information it’s very helpful by the way I love Lebanon :))

  17. Christiana:

    Great post. Please I would like to know the meaning of zega in Arabic.
    Thanks so much

  18. Malaya:

    I am a Filipina-American. A few weeks ago, I met an Iraqi man from Oman who told me he would like to teach me Arabic. He said “shonak” means “how are you” and “akbarak” means “what’s up.” Is that correct? Tried looking up the meaning of these words in Arabic on the internet and couldn’t find any information.

    • jesa:

      @Malaya Hello. These are correct. Both mean how are you in different ways. The first ‘Shlonak’ is used more frequently in Syria and Iraq, while ‘akhbarak’ is used more commonly in Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. Hope this helps. Good luck.

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