Basic Hebrew Phrases and Slang You Should Know in Israel
It’s valuable for expats and immigrants to learn their host country’s language, for the sake of:
- Breaking the ice
- Understanding the local culture
- Being respected by people
- Building relationships
In other words, it is a smart move – both professionally and socially.
Here are few words to start with when you relocate to Israel…
Basic Words and Phrases in Hebrew
|Good evening||Erev tov|
|Good morning||Boker tov|
|Good night||Laila tov|
|Hello; goodbye; peace||Shalom|
|Please; you’re welcome||Be’vakasha|
|How are you doing?||Mah nishmah?|
|Everything is okay||Hakol beseder|
Basic Slang Used by Israelis
|How was the party? Sababa!|
|Yalla*||C’mon; let’s go; go ahead
|Wanna grab some coffee? Yalla!|
|Walla*||Wow; really, really?||Did you hear she got married? Walla? Walla.
|How is that cake? Achla! Love it.|
|Fadicha*||Embarrassing situation; screw-up; faux pas
|What a fadicha! I called that client by the wrong name.|
|Nu?◊||So?; c’mon already; go on
|Nu, you coming or not?|
For no reason; just (When drawn out: just kidding)
What are you doing? Stam hanging out, nothing special. I can’t make it…staaam…see you soon!
|Baruch HaShem||Blessed be G-d (mainly used by religious Jews)
|My mother is feeling better now, Baruch HaShem.|
Pleased (fem: mabsootit)
|He’s mabsoot with the new job, it’s a good place for him.|
|Kol hakavod||Good job; well done (lit: all the respect)
|Kol hakavod for being on time with the new code release.|
|Mashehu mashehu||Fantastic; impressive (lit: something something)
|Do I look okay? You’re mashehu mashehu.|
|Lo mashehu||Not great (lit: not something)
|How did you like that restaurant? Lo mashehu.|
|Tachless◊||Bottom line; brass tacks
|Tachless, what’s the plan?|
|Ayn matzav||No way (lit: there is no situation)
|Can you finish this by tomorrow? Ayn matzav!|
|Looz||Timetable; schedule||What is your looz for the rest of your day?
|Gadol||Great (lit: big)
|Gadol, I love it.|
|Chaval al ha’zman||Wow! (lit: a waste of time)
|Chaval al ha’zman, I had the best time there.|
|Sof haderech||Awesome (lit: end of the road”)
|That fancy hotel is sof haderech.|
|Hakol dvash||Everything is wonderful (lit: honey)
|What’s up? Hakol dvash, thanksJ|
|Sof sof||Finally (lit: end end)||Sof sof you joined us but the meeting’s almost over.
|Balagan◊||A mess||There’s more balagan in that company than in my kitchen…
|Dugri*||Straight talk; frankly||Let’s be open with one another and talk dugri. It’s the Israeli way.
|Al ha’panim||Awful (lit: on the face)||The movie tonight was al ha’panim, I found it superficial and slow.
|Protektzia Φ||Personal connections, pulling strings||He only got the job thanks to protektiza.
|Combina ∞||Patched-together or unconventional deal, sometimes under the table||My sister’s friend let me use her employee discount so I’m taking them out for coffee. Nice little combina.
|Chutzpah◊||Nerve; audacity; gall||It takes a lot of chutzpah to cut in line.
|Yihye beseder||It’ll be okay; no worries||Relax, yihye beseder, we’ll deliver it on time.
|Leezrom||To (go with the) flow||They prefer the smaller version; I think it will serve us best leezrom with them this time.
|Firgun||Giving credit; putting in a good word||The employees deserve firgun for all their hard work last month.
|Mamash||Really; totally||I’m mamash happy with the changes.
|Fryar◊||Naïve; sucker||If they don’t give me a raise, I’m outta here. I’m tired of being their fryar.
|Davka||Out of spite; necessarily; actually…||He davka arrived in an expensive suit just to make the rest of us look cheap.
* From Arabic ◊ From Yiddish Φ From Russian ∞ From Ladino
I hope this helps… Good luck!
And if you want to learn more about Israeli culture – its history, conventions of business, communication, trust and more, I recommend you read my book Israeli Business Culture. To order from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Israeli-Business-Culture-Bestseller-Relationships/dp/9659250452/