Modern Hebrew Phrases

Modern Hebrew Phrases

Written By: Talia Goldberg, Community Shlicha

I have noticed that there are some really funny terms Israelis use, that Americans who know hebrew find weird. Maybe some Israelis find these terms weird too?

  1. Lo afti - means - I didn't fly. We are not referring to some kind of drug (use even though we have a lot of that in israel as well) we are just trying to say that something wasn't amazing. I didn't fly, which means it was just alright.

  2.  Chaval al hazman - means - Waste of your time. I know this is the point where you are sure that whatever we are talking about here is something I should never try but for Israelis it means, this is something you must try, try it, please, it's a waste of your time! I mean, it's so good it's a waste of your time. Trust me, explaining the logic behind this will definitely be a waste of time.

  3. Ma ani ez? - means - What am I a goat? - This is used in Hebrew instead of “what do you think I’m stupid?”  What am I a goat?

  4. Sababa - Israelis are always sababa, they are always okay. They won't say okay to you unless they are saying it like this, oh-kay. Generally you want to get the term sababa and not okay.

  5. Yallah - This is my favorite word in Arabic that is used in modern Hebrew. This word can be used in many situations. Want to go? Yallah. Want to come here? Yallah. Why is this not happening? Yallah.

  6. Kapara - means - redemption. But Israelis will call you kapara if they like you.  My kapara, kapara on you! You are a kapara.

  7. Achi - means - my brother. It is commonly the way to call anyone around you that you don't know their name. Well in Israel, everyone is your brother.

  8. Para para - means - cow cow. It is used when you are told to do something one step at a time.

  9. Third time ice cream - Here’s how this phrase is used: if you see someone twice and you didn't plan to see them, you saw them spontaneously twice in one day. You would tell them that “third time ice cream.” That way when you run into them spontaneously for the third time you guys need to go get an ice cream together. Sounds pretty legit to me :)


So does the language make the nation? Or does the nation make the language?


Here’s a video of Gal Gadot (the actress who starred in the latest Wonder Woman movies) explaining Israeli slang.