Saturday

Cursing in Arabic

This post is about all the bad words that you're unlikely to learn in a language class. You have to do the research on your own or have some Arab friends who will teach you. As far as I'm concerned words like this should be taught. You don't have to use them, but it's good to know them so that you at least have an idea of what people are saying either to you or just around you. This is a touchy subject when talking about the Arabic language specifically. I've noticed that many Arabs want everyone to think that Arabic is a modest and pure language. By many it is viewed as the language of God after all. So a lot of people take offense when words like this are taught. It's not like in English where no one really cares if swearing is taught to foreigners. I don't think Americans view it as blemishing our reputation if people know that there is profanity in English, but lots of Arabs take it personally. The truth is that every language on Earth has profanity. So, view this post as a purely academic endeavor.

First are some phrases you can say when someone wrongs you. For example, you're carrying something and someone bumps into you causing you to drop and break it. You can say these in response. They aren't considered vulgar and are very mild but still said when angry:

  • يقطع عمرك (yaqta' 'omrak) - May God kill you. (يقطع means "cut", and عمرك is "your life")
  • يخرب بيتك (yikhrib beytak) - May God destroy your house. (God is implied in this and the previous phrase)
  • الله لا يعطيك العافية (allah la ia'teek al'aafia) - May God not give you health. (I was in a restaurant in Amman and one waiter said this to another when his friend spilled a drink. He was joking, but it can be said in anger too. This is also said commonly without the negation. الله يعطيك العافية - God give you health.
  • العمى (al'ama) - Literally 'blindness'. It's used like 'damn'.
Next are the vulgar words that shouldn't be said around anyone:
  • كس (kis) - vagina
  • شرموطة (sharmoota) - whore (plural is شراميط shraameet)
  • زب (zib) - dick/cock (plural is زباب zbab)
  • بز (biz) - tit (pural is بزاز bzaz)
  • طيز (teez) - ass
  • عير ('ayr) - dick/cock (There's a funny video of a news anchor mistakenly saying صباح العير instead of صباح الخير , basically 'dick morning' instead of 'good morning'. Just type in صباح العير in You Tube.)
  • خرى (khara) - shit
How these are used in phrases:
  • كس اختك (kis ikhtak) - you're sister's vagina (like English 'fuck')
  • يا ابن الشرموطة (ya ibn asharmoota) - you son of a whore
  • مص زبي (mus zibbi) - suck my dick
  • الحس طيزي (ilhas teezi) - lick my ass
  • عيري فيك ('ayri feek) - my dick is in you
  • كل خرى (kul khara) - eat shit
This list doesn't not include all Arabic curse words. There are a lot more. This is just intended to give exposure to what's out there. There are some Disney videos here that are dubbed over with cursing that are actually pretty funny. If anyone can tell me what dialect that is I would be grateful. It sounds like a mix between Levantine and Gulf dialect because they use بدي for "I want" but the accent sounds like Gulf and they say ك as 'ch'.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

the accent in the disney video is definitely a palestinian accent, most likely from the jerusalem/bethlehem/beit sahour area. not from the gulf.

makkay said...

Hey the arabic student,
I don't think the reason that Arabs dont like the idea of learning and teaching or even just exposing others to swear words in arabic is due to or has anything to do with the sanctity of the language. There might be some people who think this way but I reckon they are very very few. Arabs are generally conservative or more accurately they want to be viewed this way. That's why they think it's a shame (3aib) to know or teach, not to mention to use, such words. This is also true for native speaker of English , or any language for that matter, who are socially conservative.
I haven't viewed the video because the net here is so slow. Once I get home, in two or three days, I'll transcribe it.

The Arabic Student said...

Anon, thanks much. Man there are so many different accents in Palestine. Some places make ك a 'ch', some places make ق a ك, some places sound just like Lebanese, and some sound just like Egyptian. It has to be the place with the most dialects in the Arab world.

Makkay, yeah, I think it's that too. Some people want to be so pious that they don't want people to know about swearing in their language. The little mermaid video is especially funny. lol

elle said...

salamualaik ya arabic student,

im elle from malaysia and i want to say thank you so much for making this blog, im really appreciate every lesson you made and grateful for finding this blog in the first place. I just came back from cairo and damascus, i was live ther for 3 years and learning arabic..still there is so much more to learn. Your blog really bring me opportunity to keep fresh my arabic language at the same time i can practice it. your newest entry was awesome about curse words as i used to hear it almost every day when i was in middle east. Anyway im looking forward to google many more informative entries of yours.

Syoukran.

Jaz said...

So many sexual insults. I've heard guys in arab countries threatening to 'fuck' each other as an insult. Crazy.

Anonymous said...

Awesome blog post! This is what makes your blog so valuable... finding stuff like this that isn't in any textbook yet that is heard every day in Arab countries.

Anonymous said...

Hey arabic student!

I'm myself half arab and have spent some time in different parts of the Middle East. I don't really agree with you on the matter of cursing. My experience is that arabs love to acknowledge the fact that, in the same way that their language has many words to describe the same things, they also have many curses, and to me they do not at all seem reluctant in teaching them. Opposite I have found that arabs have a very humoristic approach when it comes to cursing, and I also think it is linked to the "arabic temper". Of course this may vary from different parts and between different groups of society. But just wanted to comment on it, since I don't think it's good too generalize the arab world especially when it comes to questions of conservatism.

Er said...

Thanks Arabic Student,

As a beginner in Arabic, I find it confusing to consider different accent by Egyptians, Yemenis, Jordanians and even native Arabs (called Badoo).

All I thought was that my Arabic was fine until I met a friend from Lebanon and told me that my Arabic sounds like Egyptian (Egyptians has a lot of /g/ than /j/ in their Arabic).

Example is ماء water, the Jordanians pronounced it /mai/ while native Arabs (Badoo) pronounce it /moy'a/ and the Egyptians as /may'a/.

And it's funnier to think that there are Arabic "cursing words" which I really am not taught lol.

All I use to hear in KSA when Saudis curse is /kalb/(dog) or /humar/ (donkey) and I guess I heard these phrases often but since I had no idea, so I just thought they're just normal exchange of unpleasant words...

shokran!

Jane said...

Thank you SO much for this! It's so difficult to find these kind of important things... you really need to know so your friends won't tease you! :P I really appreciate all your blog posts, it is a big help in the long and sometimes depressing journey that is Arabic! (All worth it of course, hehehe)

Sub-zero said...

About الحص طيزي... it is true that some people pronounce the س almost like ص... since the verb احلص is originally الحس from لحس which means to lick. so we write it احلس all the time.
coz I didn't see anyone write it with ص in the daily non-formal chatting when this insult is almost at the edge of my tongue. and I write it like with or without any occasion.

Anonymous said...

the lebanese say airy rather than 3eiry;

now I think you'd get this skit
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWcXn4BycH0&feature=related

Matie000 said...

Great Blog! However it should be emphasised that under normal circumstances you would only use these words with very close mates. Not casual friends or acquaintances - they can get you in a lot of trouble.

If you hear somebody using these words when they are NOT joking around, then they are having a very serious argument or fight. From my experience, there is no in-between.

Also these swear words are much more common amongst Lebanese & Syrians than amongst Gulf Arabs. In the Gulf, about the worse swear word you'll hear is انت كلب (ante chalb - you're a dog).

The dialect in the disney video is a Palestinian Falahi dialect. Apart from the ch sound for ك its quite different to Gulf arabic.

Keep up the interesting work.

Anonymous said...

No, the accent in the Disney video is "Fallahi" Palestinian ( the accents heard in the villeges of the West Bank)

Accents of Jerusalem and Northern Palestinian cities sound closer to Lebanese and Syrian than other Palestinian rural accents.

Anonymous said...

dude their is more curseing words and those are nothing man .

Ana said...

Hey, it's actually air for penis, with hamza, hamza, ya, ray, you can find it also in wehr. The root 3ayn ya ra also exists, it's the root of the shame (3aar), i also know criteria from this root (mi3iyaar). As for kis and sharmuta, I don't know if they are really that bad. I mean I hear them used a lot in Lebanon, between brothers, friends, father and son, servants, even between husband and wife and son and mother. I would also like to point out to another cursing word that I heard very often in Lebanon, manyuuk (lit. fucker). I saw friends and brothers using it. And of course you already know hmar, coming from himar. Sorry for not using arab script, somewhere in ten days I ll get my laptop back and fix that.

Daver said...

I used to work with a guy from Lebanon. He taught me an Arabic curse which I can no longer remember, except for the English translation: "Your mother is a camel and I fucked her".

Ever hear this one before? And, if so, please refresh me on how it's said in Arabic?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

my lebanese ex also use those words for insulted me when he angry to me.

Anonymous said...

hey Arabic student,
Being Arab and knowing most of these swears, it's not the fact that Arabs don't want non-arabs to know them, they can know whatever they want, it is the fact that in Arabic these swears just have a deeper meaning and sound harsher in Arabic, thereby when you say them you are essentially insulting people more. which is usually why not a big number of Arabs are a fan of using swears in their everyday language. For example, my cousins don't usually swear in Arabic but they'll say a bunch of English swears without thinking about it twice. Anywho, that's at least my view, could be wrong or could be right.

sjonTV said...

Hi I recently visited Tunisia where I heard men saying dining that sounded like " el fa shur". Any ideas what this could be?

Anonymous said...

Is it correct to say, " انا لعق الکس اختك."? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi, can you translate this for me pls
لطيزي انت و اختك

Anonymous said...

لطيزي انت و اختك means "an asshole for you and your sister"

Interesting that when I learned to swear in Arabic, it was all about mothers and dogs (sometimes one and the same).

Oh, and since there are really no swear words in classic Hebrew, the Israelis all borrow from Arabic when they want to swear.

Lynn said...

Question: Is there a Lebanese curse word that sounds like edbadizu?

Anonymous said...

Sharmouta is soo common,god. I thought Sharmouta means bitch , though ? (Non- Arab ex-resident of Saudi)

sameh zoaa said...

Hi , i just want to mention that عير is actually a Saudi word ,the word of 'dick' usually is "أير"
Alot of arab may not even know what عير is