Culture Humor 

Things that Arabs say but don’t really mean

We don’t mean what we say nor do we say what we mean. The Arab people mastered this art to mean what say but don’t say what they mean. This includes phrases you’ve been using as well and situations that you can relate to.

In’sha Allah (If God wiling)

Nike Arabia - Just do it tomorrow InSha Allah

What first comes to your mind when you hear what means ‘if God willing’ or hopefully, is that the person would keep his/her promise if God allowed. Sadly, some people say it as a polite way to decline your offer. Whenever you hear this phrase from one of those people, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Akhbarak Eih / Shlonak / Kifek / Labes? (How are you?)

While the person asking this question seems caring, you should be able to notice it’s the only thing he/she is saying even in the middle of the conversation to fill the awkward silence.

y katar khirek (God bless you)

Waiters and public service workers usually show gratitude and appreciation with this phrase but it doesn’t mean what you think it means if your tip is less than they desire. This is usually said in a sarcastic tone.

Tafadal / Tfadhal (Come in)

You’re not very welcome if you hear this followed by a deep sigh. The speaker might tolerate you for few minutes but during that timescale you can’t help but feel the uneasiness.

Bgad ? (Really?)


This is the Arabic way to say ‘Cool story ,bro’. You know you’ve gone so far with blatant lies and exaggerations when your hearer suddenly interrupts your story with this question.

Yalla! (Come on)

This means ‘Come on!’ when the person is not trying to make you leave. If the speaker yells with this word, you need to leave because your presence bothers him/her.

Mish fahiim  (I don’t understand)

The person is either requesting a rephrase or hoping you won’t ask for his favor a second time. This is sounds like an utterance and the speaker may look deranged. Don’t repeat what you said unless the other part of the conversation asks nicely again; otherwise, change the subject.

Balash  (Don’t)

It’s ‘don’t’ in Arabic but Arabs say it with the implicature that they want more or want you to fulfill your favor. Take this word as an invitation to act.

Mashy (Okay)


Mashy stands for ‘Okay’. ‘Do as you please.’ ‘Do it, but I disapprove of it.’ ‘You’ll regret it if you do it.’ No worries, you’ll be able to tell which one the speaker meant judging from his/her tone.

Tany / Kaman ? (Again ?)

Again? The speaker didn’t like it when it first happened. The question is interpreted to ‘Please don’t do it again, I’ve had enough the first time.’

Mish batal (Not bad)

Whether it means ‘not bad’ or ‘I can do better’, the speaker thinks your idea or work are not to his liking.

Aakhar kalam (My last word / verdict)

The sellers/vendors resort to this when they lose a bargain as a way to implicitly say they can lower the price with a small discount only because you insisted.

Akher sha’hr (At the end of the month)

This is a popular phrase when someone owes you money. It means ‘At the end of the month’ but doesn’t specify which month of the year.

Fein Al Hamem? (Where’s the restroom ?)

Arab women use this as a way out when the conversation gets boring. They don’t really have to use it but it’s their way to tell you they regret going out with you.

Ba’deen (Later)

Later. Sometimes never. This is one of those ways to avoid annoyance.

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