Osnat Lautman

Basic Hebrew Phrases and Slang You Should Know in Israel

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

English Hebrew
Yes Ken
No Lo
Good evening Erev tov
Good morning Boker tov
Good night Laila tov
Hello; goodbye; peace Shalom
Thank you Toda
Please; you’re welcome Be’vakasha
How are you doing? Mah nishmah?
Everything is okay Hakol beseder
Bon appetit Bete’avon


Basic Slang Used by Israelis

Word/Phrase Meaning Example
Sababa* Cool; awesome


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.


Achla* Great


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:

About the Author
I’m an intercultural expert. The Founder of OLM-Consulting and the author of the Amazon bestselling book ‘Israeli Business Culture’. I’m passionate about cultures, connecting humans and breaking through culture barriers. I also created the ISRAELI™ model of Israeli business characteristics (Informal, Straightforward, Risk-Taking, Ambitious, Entrepreneurial, Loud, Improvisational) to reveal the foundations of the Israeli innovative culture. I supports many organizations and individuals to effectively connect and engage with Israelis, avoid misunderstanding and maximize the value of combining the innovative Israeli spirit into a multi culture environment.
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