January 27, 2016

19 Fascinating Hebrew Words That Don’t Have Any Direct Translation In English

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Julia Ivantsova
Julia Ivantsova

The Hebrew language has many magnificent words that simply don’t hold the same greatness when translated to English. Here are 19 of them.

1. CHAVAL AL HAZMAN (חבל אל הזמן)

This phrase translates to “shame on the time.” It is used when referring to an amazing experience. It is like saying you could only wish for more time.

2. ANI META ALECHA (אני מתה עליך)

“I’m dead about you,” similar to saying “I’m crazy about you”.

3. TITCHADESH (תתחדשי)

This word translates to “be new.” It is used when someone purchases new clothing or has a new item. It is like saying “Enjoy your new thing.”

4. FIRGUN (פירגון)

It is to have a generous, unselfish spirit and a joy in the accomplishment of someone else. It is having an empathic joy for something good that has happened. It means to make someone feel good without having an alternative motive.

5. CHUTZPAH (חצפה)

A characteristic trait to describe someone with audacity, be it for good or bad. Now more commonly used to describe someone when they have crossed the line of acceptable behavior.

6. KOEV LI HALEV (כואב לי הלב)

The translation is “my heart hurts” and it is used as a form of showing empathy for something or someone. It is used to say you identify with the suffering of someone else so much that it causes your own heart to ache.

7. STAM (סתם)

The word can be used in several ways. It can be used like “just because,” “no reason,” or “just kidding.” It is for when something isn’t important.

8. DAVKA (דווקא)

It’s like saying despite expectations or when something is ironic or contrary to belief. The opposite of what is expected.

9. NESHAMA (נשמה)

A word used similarly to “sweetie” but it literally meaning “soul.” People say “neshama sheli” which means “my soul.” It is used often to both men and women. It is like saying you are so important to me that you are part of my soul.

10. L’ECOLE SRATIM (לאכול סרטים)

It means “to eat movies.” It’s like saying someone loves drama. Used for someone overdramatic or someone who likes making a scene out of something small.

11. CHAI B’SERET (חי בסרט)

Similar to the last one….”Living in a movie.” When someone is being over the top and unrealistic about a situation.

11. LACHFOR (לחפור)

Means “to dig” but it is used to describe someone who talks too much and loves to gossip.

12. NAIM MEOD (נעים מאוד)

This is used upon meeting someone for the first time. It is in replace of “nice to meet you” but it literally means “feels very comfortable.”

13. GO’AL NEFESH (גועל נפש)

The first word means “revulsion” or “disgust” and the second word means “soul.” A disgust that reaches the soul.

14. LA’ASOT CHAIM (לעשות חיים)

This is something you say to someone that is about to embark on a journey or travel or do basically anything exciting. It means “to do or make life.” That is it. Plain and simple, just do life.

15. AL HA’PANIM (על הפנים)

Translates to “on the face.” Used to describe when something was really awful. “The food tonight was on my face,” meaning very bad.

16. SOF HA’OLAM SMOLA (סוף העולם שמאלה)

Slang used to describe a place that is in the middle of nowhere. Translation, “at the end of the world, turn left.”

17. SOF HADERECH (סוף הדרך)

Literally means “end of the road” but used to describe something awesome. Like, “that party was end of the road.

18. KAPARA ALECHA (כפרה עליך)

The exact translation is “Atonement over you” but used as “darling” or “sweetie.” The word Kapara is actually the word used for an old ritual orthodox Jews did on Yom Kippur (the day of atonement).

19. YALLA (יאללה)

Although this is an Arabic word, it has become a common word in Hebrew slang. It means “let’s go” and it can be used in so many ways. It can be used for “let’s go,” “hurry up,” etc. The best thing is when you’re nearing the end of a phone call and the moment someone says “yalla,” both parties know it’s time to go and there is not awkward, “Well, I guess I’ll let you go….” This word is like the equivalent of verbal punctuation! TC mark

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