The best way to learn Hebrew is by speaking with people on the street in Hebrew. Here’s a list of a few fun words that they haven’t taught you in the traditional Ulpans, but are essential to understand what’s going on around you. We’ve also got a couple of celebrity videos at the bottom, and some clinks to cool Israeli TV shows and other resources. Thanks to Citizen Cafe OOlpan for co-writing this post – Citizen Cafe OOlpan are Secret Tel Aviv’s number 1 place to learn Hebrew in Tel Aviv.
Street Slang Word of the Week with Citizen Cafe OOlpan
A new weekly collaboration between Secret Tel Aviv and Citizen Cafe OOlpan.
Street Slang Word of the Week #14: Sssemek / ס’אֵמֵק
Sssemek is the standard way of shouting Fuck! It is directed at a situation, not a person.
A common derivation is Cusssemek, which also means Fuck! It is a combination of cus (a crude way of saying vagina) and sssemek. You gotta love Hebrew!
Street Slang Word of the Week #13: Why Why / וָואי וָואי
This commonly used street slang expression is used similarly to ‘Oh my G-d’
When you look at the pile of endless work on your desk and all you can think of is the new episode of Game of Thrones starting shortly.
Street Slang Word of the Week #12: Freier / פרָאייר
‘Don’t be a freier’ is practically the 11th commandment of the Israeli culture, meaning don’t be a sucker.
When a taxi driver convinces you that you got a special rate with him and you later learn your Israeli friend paid half.
Street Slang Word of the Week #11: Hazui / הזוּי
What you would say about someone or a situation that is weird, trippy, hard to believe.
Did you know the gay beach in Tel-Aviv is next to the religious beach. Hazui, no?
Street Slang Word of the Week #10: Totach / תוֹתָח
A cannon (weapon), or what we love to call that person who is just outstanding.
Roger Federer is a totach.
Street Slang Word of the Week #9: Nishnush / נשנוּש
Besides being a super fun word to say, it is used to describe the concept of a snack, something to munch on..
What an Israeli would ask a waitress for that side nibble next to their order of beer of when they are hinting they want free peanuts.
Street Slang Word of the Week #8: Bul / בוּל
With a double meaning in Hebrew, for either a ‘stamp’ you attach to an envelope, or when something is exactly right, just perfect!
What you say to your best friend when she finally tries on the perfect wedding dress – or just want it to be over.
Street Slang Word of the Week #7: Esh / אֵש
Formally translated as ‘fire’, you will find Israelis using this to describe something super cool, great, a real mindblower.
An Israeli’s way of telling you the party past night was wild.
Street Slang Word of the Week #6: Sachten / סָחתֵיין
Originally from Arabic, used to applaud someone for their accomplishments. An Israeli’s instinctive reaction when you score weed for the whole group.
Street Slang Word of the Week #6: Ein Matzav / אֵין מָצָב
Translating this literally would only be confusing, since this is one of the most common street phrases to mean “No Way!” used in both its negative reply form or an astounded reaction to something amazing.
I say Angelina Jolie eating falafel in Dizengof center yesterday!
Street Slang Word of the Week #5: Sachi / סָחי
If Oxford dictionary gave prizes for the Hebrew word of the year, this would be it.
The opposite state of being stoned, someone who is never stoned or just a nerdy, normal person. The audience at a Shlomo Artzi concert.
Street Slang Word of the Week #4: Satlan / סטלן
A Satlan is a stoner.
However, the term is used more widely to describe someone who is lazy, particularly chilled, or just has that Bob Marley air about them. The friend who’s always late, who will forget you had plans, but at the end of the day is always there for you with a smile on their face.
Now say it a few times before you smoke your next joint, or you will just forget!
Street Slang Word of the Week #3: Dafuk / דָפוּק
Used to describe a person who is screwed-up/ weird/ off the chart.
You might use it to describe a first date who said something wildly inappropriate or about someone who drinks piping hot soup on the beach. “He is totally dafuk”.
Street Slang Word of the Week #2: Maniak / מָניאק
As opposed to what may be your first assumption, maniak is not the the Hebrew translation of maniac but rather, the typical Israeli way of calling someone an asshole.
Warning: use with caution! Only call someone a maniak if you really mean it! Particularly useful on Israeli roads.
Street Slang Word of the Week #1: Fadicha / פאדיחה
An awkward mistake with embarrassing consequences. When you send that sext text message to your boss instead of your boyfriend. You would certainly call this a serious fadicha.
Citizen Cafe OOlpan
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Celebrity Hebrew Classes
Not that much into self learning? Let the professionals teach you!
Celebrity Hebrew Classes #1: Renny Grinshpan of Hiyraeliyot:
Celebrity Hebrew Classes #2: Natalie Portman Teaches you Hebrew Slang:
Other Cool Links to learn some Hebrew
- Guy Sharrett from Streetwise Hebrew has a great list of Israeli songs and Hebrew lyrics on his website and classes on TLV1 radio
- Cool Buzzfeed link with some of the most popular Hebrew words
- Blogpost with five of the most important words
- By Word of Mouth – free audio course
- There are loads of awesome Israeli series which often have English and Hebrew subtitles – check out Ramzor, Hatufim, Asfur, and Red Band
- Daily Dose of Hebrew from Ulpan La-Inyan
- Teach Me Hebrew
- Hebrew Anki Decks
- WordReference Hebrew Forums
- Morfix Dictionary