Updated: Oct 25, 2021
We all know that the best way to fit in somewhere new is to pick up the language, act like a local, and maybe try to look and sound like you know what you are doing!
One of the best ways to blend in is to try out some of the local slang yourself!
Here in Israel, slang is a big part of the culture, and comes from a few different languages actually. Because we are a country made up of many, many cultures that have come together, so much of our language has become bits and pieces of traditional languages that came to Israel years ago- like Arabic and Yiddish!
We've put together a list of some of our favorite popular slang words of Israel.
**If you want to keep learning daily, check out iKonnect's Hebrew word of the day!
So get out your pens and paper, jot down your favorite, and START PRACTICING!
Chutzpah: Chutzpah is used to describe someone who has audacity or cheek. This isn’t just a word in Israel, rather a lifestyle. In order to survive in Israel, you need to have a little chutzpah, and sometimes you need to be just a little pushy. So if you’re from the good ‘ol Midwest (or Canadian), step outside your comfort zone and start pushing a little. You’ll be amazed how much faster issues get solved
Shtuyot Bamitz: This phrase is hands down one of our favorites. Literally translated as "nonsense in juice", it is used as a way to describe something that is total nonsense. Like for example, Israeli bureaucracy. Now if there's something that's total nonsense, that would be it.
Protexia: This means using a connection in your favor. (Lidugma (for example), using a personal connection to get a job.) Without protexia, very little gets done in Israel!
Achla: Awesome, great. It is also the name of one of our favorite hummus brands in Israel, because Achla hummus is achla! (See what we did there?)
Davka: This word can’t really be translated to English. It is best translated as precisely or specifically. To use it in a sentence you can say: Davka this chocolate rugelach (the best baked good in Israel, no arguments) is better than any others I have tried! Used mostly when trying to drive a point home.
Eize seret: Which Movie. But this phrase isn’t used to ask which movie you want to go see. It is used as a way to describe something absolutely crazy that just happened to you. Kind of like "What a story that was!"
Le’echol sratim: To eat movies. Nope, not a funny name for popcorn. This phrase is used as a way to describe someone who just loves drama! (I imagine this phrase is used a lot in tichon- high school)
Chai Bseret: Lives in a movie. This may be our favorite one. This phrase is used to describe anyone who has unrealistic expectations or lives in a fantasy world. For example, it can be used to describe customers who demand ridiculous things, or for a boss who has high expectations of his or her employees.
Chaval al hazman: While you may assume something that means "shame on the time" would be negative, you would be incorrect. Today this phrase is used as a way to describe something that was completely worthwhile and totally awesome. Basically the exact opposite of what you would think! It’s such a common phrase that Israelis actually created an abbreviated form, "chavlaz". Basically, if someone says something was chavlaz or chaval al hazman you may want to go check it out!
"Instert word"-oosh: Israelis seem to put "oosh" at the end of names to make it a cutesy nickname, and often end random words with this sound. It's kind of cute! Think "hi-oosh!, bye-oosh!, sababoosh!"
Nu: Come on (as a side note, it can also be a way to say ‘So? Or Hurry up!’)
Yalla: Let’s go (also another term for hurry up!)
Motek: Sweetie. Now you may be used to calling your loved ones by these loving and intimate names, but in Israel even your most casual acquaintances will call you motek, mami, or neshama (which means soul) - all different terms of endearment.
Zaznu: Let’s go. Again.
Balagan: Chaotic, a mess (however somehow the phrase "yalla balagan" has become a term of excitement and getting ready for a good time!)
Ready for a fun one?
“Nu? Yalla motek, zaznu”. That sentence was said to me. It’s a whole lot of slang in one tiny little sentence. After my puzzled expression tipped off my friend that I had no clue what she was saying (which was a slight fadicha- embarrassing situation), she kindly decided to break it down for me. ~ Becca