The Importance Of Learning Israeli Slang Before Your Next Visit To Israel

We need to be honest with you, and therefore, we must begin with a confession: We made a mistake. Mr. Ben Yehuda put a lot of effort into rescuing biblical Hebrew from the ashes to turn it into the modern language we speak today, but we must have done something wrong along the way, to the present day.

When did the deep, sweet words of Yehuda Amichai’s poems become replaced by a “sababa” or by an “instoosh”? The world is changing, and with it, the way we communicate with each other.

On some occasions, slang can be even more useful than formal language, this is because of the endless interactions we experience on the streets of Israel. Therefore, learning slang, its roots, and the way it has been developing becomes transcendental when learning a new language. Hebrew is not the exception.

So, are you ready to learn a few words of the current Israeli slang? Make yourself comfortable, and get ready to have some fun. This might be the first step to experiencing the streets of Israel, from wherever you are.

Learn these 4 Israeli slang words and be ready for your next visit to Israel

We’re not going to go over the million different ways in which Israelis refer to apps, but if someone asks you to take a picture of you for their “instoosh” or for the “face”, don’t get too scared.

If you want to experience the Hebrew people speak on the street, take a look at these 4 words that will make your life easier when trying to think how to say something you are feeling or doing:

Pee-pee (פיפי)

Even if it sounds like going to the bathroom to do number 1, and even though it is actually inspired by this activity, this word is used in Hebrew to refer to something funny, something hilarious.

Yes, you’re right. If you think about something that it was so funny that you almost peed yourself, that is something that can be called “pee-pee”.

Inverse meaning: A waste of time!

Are you ready to have your mind blown? In Hebrew, when you want to say that something was amazing and that you had an amazing time, you’ll need to say חבל על הזמן (pronounced: Cha-val ahl hah-zman), which literally means “A waste of time”.

Yes, weird. But in a country where everybody reads from right to left, were you expecting something different?

The good old Sababa!

Sababa means “cool”, it is as simple as that. This trendy word is used by millions of Israelis every day, many times a day. It is used for (way too) many purposes: To say “ok”, to say “fun”, to say “nice”, or to simply agree with someone.

Even if sababa and sabich sound similar, they aren’t the same thing. But you can see here a recommendation of a sabich that is truly sababa.

Walla! This article is very useful!

So you don’t know what “walla” means? Walla! Let us explain a bit better what this multifunctional word means. Walla (spelled וואלה and pronounced Wah-llah) is the closest to “wow” or “oh, really?” an Israeli word can get.

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Walla is a word used to show surprise or amusement. It can be the ideal answer when someone tells you they just finish their 2nd degree, or when someone gives you some bad news that happened some time ago.

Just make sure to adjust your tone of voice to not sound too happy when a friend tells you someone has passed away, or too sad when a coworker invites you to their wedding.

Why learn Hebrew slang today?

Learning these and thousands of other Hebrew slang words and sayings will enable you to better interact with Israeli society, to understand what the old people are laughing at the outside of that coffee shop, or to better receive the signals of someone flirting with you on the beach in Tel Aviv.

The Modern Hebrew course Rosen offers might be the ideal place to achieve these goals. It has a whole unit about Israeli Slang, and you can start learning it before even getting the plane tickets, and without leaving the comfort of your home.

Begin today, the courses are חבל על הזמן, your Hebrew is going to be סבבה after the course and you’ll meet Israelis to have פיפי plans in the near future. The first step is to start learning…

About the author

Arie Elbelman R.Arie was born and raised in Chile, and immigrated to Israel in his early twenties. He wants to take an active role in the development of this young and smart country. Arie believes that the best way to shape our present and future is to live with more horizontal hierarchies, to smile a whole lot, and to always, always respect each other.

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