Real World Hebrew: Arabic Slang in Hebrew Life Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 in Conversation, Cultural Awareness, Real World, Vocabulary

Arabic has had a great influence on languages, especially in those countries dominated by Islam or Islamic power. And in this post we’ll be looking at how the Arabic language has influenced the Hebrew language.

The influence of Arabic on Hebrew exists in both semantic loans, and in words, translations, and other linguistic patterns. There are some loans that you can see, such as אָדִיב ( Arabic أديب); akh-lā أحلى < אַחְלָה : excellent, awesome’, fā-dee-khā فضِيحة < פדיחה: faux pas’

You can see how certain patterns have influenced Hebrew such as the Hebrew greeting בקר טוב (‘good morning) and its reply בוקר אור (‘morning of light’) is a direct copy of the Arabic صباح الخير (‘good morning’) and الصباح النور (‘morning of light’).

Arabic influence on Hebrew is most evident in the slang that you hear mostly on a ‘non-official’ plane. This is particularly evident in words and phrases in the following categories: Terms of endearment or insults, certain activities, locations, items, interjections, curses, and other expressions and idioms. Here we’ll look at Hebrew slang words and their Arabic origins.

ā-bal أهبل < אהבל: idiot
ā-boo ‘alee ابو علي < אבו עלי: show-off
‘ak-root عكروت < עקרוט: bastard
‘ayyoo-nee عيوني < עיוני: darling
hit-khār-fen خرفان < התחרפן: go nuts
jā-nā-nā مجنون < ג'נאנה: craziness
keif كيف < כיף: fun
kha-bee-bee حبيبي < חביבי: dude
kha-boob حبوب < חבוב: buddy
khā-rā خرا < חרא: shit, crap
mā’-ā-fān معفن < מעפן: lame
māl-‘oon ملعون < מלעון: cursed
mās-tool سطل < מסטול: wasted, high
sa-bā-bā صبابة < סבאבה/סבבה: terrific, awesome
sha’-fā/shak-fah شقفة < שאפה/שקפה: attractive young woman, ‘hottie
tem-bel تنبل < טמבל: fool
tsā-bār صبار < צבר: native-born Israeli
wā-khād واحد < וואחד: singular’

Activities, locations, items, and neutral terms

hit-lā-zem لازم < התלזם: to be turned on
jā-bel جبل < ג'בל: mountain, hill
jā-rā جرة < ג'ארה/ג'רה: urn, large jar
khā-moo-lā حمولة < חמולה: clan or extended family
khām-seen خمسين < חמסין: hot, south-western wind, heat-wave
khā-sheesh حشيش < חשיש/חישש: marijiuana, hasheesh
shār-qiy-yā شرقية < שרקייה: hot, eastern wind
ze-le-meh زلمي < זלמה: man, guy’

Interjections and curses

‘ā-lā tool على طول < עלא טול: exactly, immediately, right away
‘ā-le-hoom عليهم < עליהום: attack!
‘ā-lek/’alek قال لك < עאלכ/עלכ: yeah, right!, as if!
‘ā-ley-nā علينا < עלינא: no way!, wrong!
bā-rood برود < ברוד: heads up!, when using explosives
bās بس < באס: enough!
be-khay-yāt بحيات < בחייאת: for heavens sake
dā-khee-lak دحيلك < דחילק: please, for goodness sake
deer bā-lāk دير بالك < דיר באלק: be careful!, watch out!
Hālās/Hālāsnā خلص < חלס/חאלס/חלסנא: stop! enough!
Hārā/Hārā خرا < חרא: shit!, crap!
kee-f/kee-f Hālek كيف حالك < כיף/כיף חאלכ: what’s up?
ma’aléysh/ma’léysh معليش < מעליש: no matter
mabroo-k مبروك < מברוכ: congratulations!
moo-sh-‘aref مش عارف < מוש-ערף: (I have) no clue!
moo-sh-lāzem مش لازم < מוש-לזם: no need!
qishtā كيس < קישטה: scat!
saHtéyn صحتين < סחתין: well done!
sharmoo-tā شرموطة < שרמוטה: slut, whore
waʾllā والله < ואללה: really?
wardā وردا < ורדה: ahoy!
yā/yā يا < יא/יה: O!, hey!
yā-allā يا الله < יא-אללה: Oh God!, God!, Good Heavens!, Wow!
yaʾllā يالله < יאללה: come on!
ya’nee-/ya’anee يعني < יעני: that is
yā-wardee-/yā-waradee يا ويلي < יה-וורדי: Oh God!, Good Heavens!, Wow! (astonishment)
yā-wélee-/yā-walee يا ويلي < יה-וולי: Oh God!, Good Heavens!, Wow!’, (sorrow or wonder)

Expressions and idioms

aHsan min bālāsh احسن من بلش < אחסן מן בלש: better than nothing
‘ālāʾ rāsee على رأسي < עלא ראסי: on my head
‘ālāʾ soo-béH على صبح < עלא סובח: (first thing) in the morning
buqrā fee-l mee-shmee-sh بكرا في المشمش < בוקרה פיל מישמיש: when hell freezes over, forget it
ee-leefāt—māt اللي فات مات < אילי פאת—מאת: let bygones be bygones
kul kalb bee-jeeyōmō كل كلب جيبي يومه < כל כלב ביג'י יומו: every dog shall have his day
shwayeh shwayeh شوية شوية < שוויה שוויה: little by little, one at a time’)
yōm ‘asal, yōm basal يوم عصل, يوم بصل < יום עסל, יום בסל: some days are good, others bad; c’est la vie!

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About the Author: Sean Young

Learning languages since 1978 and studying over 50 (achieving fluency in 10). Sean L. Young loves giving tips, advice and the secrets you need to learn a language successfully no matter what language you're learning. Currently studying Hindi and blogging his progress right here at Transparent Language -


  1. mustafa lamarti:

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  2. mustafa lamarti:

    Como dije antes me gustaria aprender un poco mas de lo que sé en cuanto a lenguas.Soy marroqui ,de Tanger y hablo por el momento cuatro idiomas:español,ingles,frances y arabe.Como soy radiotelegrafista y vivi en Cadiz durante 20 años y en Palma de mallorca 10años pues hablo el andaluz de Cadiz y un poco el mallorquin-catalàn.Encatado .mustafa