45 must-know, modern Hebrew slang words. Sababa!
Hebrew: מילון סלאנג עברי
How many Hebrew slang words do you know? You need to learn modern Hebrew slang to sound like a fluent native speaker and to understand Hebrew conversation.
We have chosen 45 of the very best Hebrew slang words and common phrases that will help you understand the locals. They’ll make you smile and some of them might even crack you up!
Achla – אחלה
Achla is an Arabic word meaning great
For example: An Achla dress or an Achla movie. In Israel there is even a brand of hummous called Achla
Al HaPanim – על הפנים
The literal translation of Al HaPanim is “On the face”
It actually means: Terrible or awful
For example: This flu is really getting to me – I am feeling al HaPanim
Avarnu et Paro, na’avor gam et zeh – עברנו את פרעה נעבור גם את זה
Translated this phrase means: We overcame Pharaoh (in Egypt) and we will get through this too.
Its meaning: We overcame immense hardship and we will overcome this too.
For example: It’s been more than five hours already and we haven’t solved the problem. Don’t worry, avarnu et Pharaoh, na’avor gam et zeh.
Balagan – באלגן
A balagan is a mess, a catastrophe or complicated situation.
For example: There is such a balagan in the kitchen, I’d better clean up. Or you could say; there is such a balagan in the government at the moment, every day something else happens
Be’shu’shu – בשושו
Be’shu’shu means doing something quietly or secretly behind the scenes without notifying anyone
Example: He didn’t tell us he got a new car. He always does things be’shu’shu.
Beten gav – בטן גב
The literal translation of Beten Gav is: Stomach, back
It means: A time of relaxation, when all one does is turn over from ones back to ones stomach. A beach or island holiday would be considered ‘beten gav’
For example: I’ve been working so hard lately, I really need some beten gav.
Boker tov Eliyahu – בוקר טוב אליהו
The literal translation of Boker Tov Eliyahu is: Good morning Eliyahu!
It means: Nice of you to show up or remember
For example: Boker tov Eliyahu! Where have you been? We said 10am and it’s now 12
Elef Ahuz – אלף אחוז
Elef Ahuz translates to:1,000 percent
It means: Being absolutely certain about something.
For example : Are you sure you he is having an affair? Yes – elef ahuz!
In other countries we’d say – one hundred percent, but In Israel everything is ten times bigger or more important than anywhere else!
Eichsa fichsa or eichs – איכסה פיכסה
Literally means: Yuck
For example: Eichsa, this food is not tasty at all
Eizeh seret – איזה סרט
The literal translation of Eizeh Seret is: What a movie
The meaning: A series of out-of-the-ordinary events in real-life and usually with a negative connotation
For example: You can’t believe what we had to go through at the border crossing…. Eizeh seret!
Also, of course, if you saw a great movie, you would say: Gee, the Titanic, eizeh seret!
Face – פייס
The literal English translation is quite obvious.
However, in Hebrew, Face refers to Facebook.
For example: I posted my Selfie on my Face
Fadicha – פדיחה
An Arabic word meaning an embarrassing failure, a mess or slip-up
For example: Eizeh fadicha! I fell asleep at work today.
Gihatzta et HaCartis Ashray – גיהצת את הכרטיס אשראי
The literal translation of this is: You ironed your credit card
Its real meaning: You spent a lot on your credit card in a really short period of time
For example: You bought a lot today – Gihatzta et HaCartis Ahsray!
Gilita et America – גילית את אמריקה
Translates to: You discovered America!
Its real meaning: Wow! Tell me something I don’t know.
For example: You’re not gonna believe it but they’re actually making onion flavored crackers now. – Really? Gilita et America!
Ha’dod me’America – הדוד מאמריקה
The actual translation of this is: The uncle from America
It means: The rich uncle, family member or even a friend from the US who spoils his “poor” Israeli relatives with gifts.
For example: I wish I had a dod m’America who would send me the latest iphone!
HaKol Dvash – הכל דבש
Literally it translates to: It’s all honey
It means: Everything is perfect
For example: How is it going with your co-worker after that argument? Thanks, HaKol Dvash.
Haval al HaZman – חבל על הזמן
Its literal translation is : Pity about the time!
It can be a positive reaction – its fantastic! It can also have a negative connotation – its a waste of time!
Positive example: It was such a great movie – haval al ha’zman
Negative example: It was such a boring movie – haval al ha’zman
Teenagers use it too. The first three letters of each word are abbreviated to Hav’laz
For example: She bought such a stunning outfit – hav’laz!
Janana – ג’ננה
A word of Arabic origin meaning aggravating, annoying or irritating
For example: Ata Ma’vi li et HaJanana – You’re annoying me!
Jiffa – גיפה
Translates to: A revolting or disgusting mess
It means: Grime or gunge
For example: I have to wash the kitchen floors and get rid of all that Jiffa
Kama kama? – כמה כמה
The literal translation for this is: How much, how much?
It means: What’s the score?
For example: In the basket-ball game between Maccabi and Hapoel you would ask your friend: Kama, kama?
Kef retzach – כף רצח
Literally: Kef is slang for fun & Retzach means, murder
It actually means: The best or to die for
For example: His barmitzvah party was kef retzach
Ke’ilu da – כאילו דה
The literal translation: Like, duh!
It’s teenage slang for stating the obvious.
For example: Mom says to her son: Have you done your homework? He answers – Ke’ilu da!
Kombina – קומבינה
The word Kombina refers to a ‘combination’ or working the system to your advantage.
For example: He did a kombina at his workplace so he could take the credit for the project.
Koo Koo – קוקו
A Koo-koo is a pony-tail in your hair or the hair band used to make one
For example: Mom, I’ve got gym class today, please make a koo-koo for me
Bonus Hebrew learning tools
Ma Ha Ma’tzav – מה המצב
The actual translation of this is: What is the situation or what’s up?
For example: Hey ben-adam, ma HaMatzav?
Hey man, what’s up?
Magniv – מגניב
For example: So you’re all coming to my party. Magniv!
Ma ani, ez? – ?מה אני, עז
Its literal translation: What am I, a goat?
It means protesting against unequal treatment or being invisible
For example: After noticing all the kids got candy except him, Danny turns to his mother and says: “Ma ani, ez?”
Nafal lee ha’asimon – נפל לי האסימון
The literal translation of this is: My token dropped
An ‘asimon’ was the token you dropped in Israel’s public payphones until the 1990s, It had a hole in the middle and sometimes people would wear them on chains around their necks.
It actually means: It finally hit or dawned on me.
For example: Now I know why he did that. Nafal lee ha’asimon, I finally figured it all out!
Of mechubas – עוף מכובס
Translates to: a chicken that has been laundered
Its actual meaning: A bland chicken over-cooked in boiling water or an overly repeated situation
For example: If we have to go to your parents for the holidays, we will be forced to eat the same old Of Mechubas your mother always serves, but if we go to my parents…..
Another example: We’ve spoken about this so many times before, its like an Of Mechubas.
In Anglo countries you might use the phrase ‘Don’t cook your cabbages twice’
O-to-to – אותותו
A common saying meaning; In just a moment or very soon
For example: I’ve got an appointment o-to-to. I have to get going
Another example: She is close to her due date. She’ll give birth o-to-to
Pa’am Shlishit, Glida – פעם שלישית, גלידה
Literal translation: Third time, ice-cream!
Third time lucky maybe the closest in meaning. Used when you meet someone, a few times or if something happens repeatedly within a very short space of time
For example: I’ve seen you twice already today, pa’am shlishit, glida! (let’s go catch up over some ice-cream/lunch)
Pony – פוני
It has nothing to do with a young horse. It means a hairstyle with a fringe or bangs
For example: At the hairdresser’s – Should I give you a pony this time?
Protekzia – פרוטקציה
Means: Utilizing your connections in Israel, to your advantage.
For example: Joe got the job because his father knows the managing director. He’s got protekzia. Protekzia is also now commonly referred to as Vitamin P
Sababa – סבבה
Means: great or wonderful
For example: How are things with you? Sababa thanks!
Shtrudel – שטרודל
The actual meaning, as we all know, is that delicious European cake with apples and nuts.
In Israel it means: The (at) @ sign in an email address
For example: This website’s email address is anglolist shtrudel gmail dot com
Shtu’yot Be Mitz Agvani’yot – שטויות במיץ עגבניות
Translates to: Nonsense in tomato juice
Its meaning: It’s nonsense
For example: I don’t agree with you, you are talking “shtuyot be mitz agvaniyot”!
Smoch aly – סמוך עלי
Its translation: Trust me!
It is an arrogant expression that things will work out
For example: The landlord says to his tenant: I’ll get it fixed by next week, don’t worry, smoch aly! (Yeah, yeah!)
Sof Haderech – סוף הדרך
Translates to: The end of the road
It actually means: Great or fantastic
For example: We ate dinner at that new sushi place, the meal was the best I’ve ever had it was sof haderech!
Sof Haderech and Haval Al Hazman are often interchangable
Sof ha’olam smola – סוף העולם שמאלה
The literal translation is: The end of the world, on the left
It actually means: The middle of nowhere, an isolated place in the back of beyond.
For example: You won’t even find it on the map. They live on some sand road 30km south of Dimona. It’s sof ha’olam smola!
Sponja – ספונג’ה
Literally translates to sponge or sponging
It refers to cleaning the floor the Israeli way. A sponga is a broom-like object that has a long spongy, rubber attachment called a “goomi” to which you throw over a wet floor rag and clean the floor. In some countries this device is called a “squeegie”
For example: I can’t meet you for breakfast on Friday morning, I have to sponja the floors and get rid of all that jiffa.
Ta’im Retzach – טעים רצח
Literally: Ta’im means tasty and retzach means murder It actually means: Absolutely delicious – to die for!
An example: My mother’s chopped liver is ta’im retzach!
Tfu, tfu, tfu… טפו טפו טפו
Is a superstitious saying commonly used all over the world.
For example: Don’t worry mom, she is a healthy child. -Tfu, tfu, tfu…
Walla – וואלה
Walla is a Hebrew slang word that has a wide variety of interpretations. Depending on the pronunciation, it could mean: really, Hmm.., I see or okay
For example: The new Harry Potter book has just been published. The excited Harry Potter fan answers: Walla!
There is also a well known local news website called ‘Walla’
Zeh zeh – זה זה
Translates to: This is it.
It means: This is it, it’s meant to be.
For example: I love him and he loves me. Zeh zeh.
You could also say: This is the perfect dress for my sister’s wedding. Zeh zeh!