Sunday, June 26, 2011

Slang Army Hebrew: Klalot (Curses)

Updated (8/7/2011): Ashkenazi, Chalavi, Dati liDaati, Datlash, Kooseet, Ma nisgar itcha, Pa'ur, Shavuz, Shikdei marak, Shwarma, Smar'toot, Tzair.

In Arab society, insulting someone’s female family members, mother or sisters, is considered a grave insult. Even friends would never do so when messing around with each other. Israeli society, especially the army, is far more forgiving: ‘your momma’ jokes and gabs about each others sisters supply much of the slang and humor.

Curses compromise a disturbing slice of soldier speaks. It took me well over a year in the army to realize this. My poor Hebrew in the early goings of my service only partially explain my lack of understanding. Two other factors played a role. First, cursing was largely absent in my former unit. Part of the reason is that as one of the more elite (and elitist) units in the IDF, my former unit draws a more upper-class, mature crowd who are less inclined to run their mouth at every opportunity. Soldiers avoid excessive cussing not only because of privileged backgrounds but also out of fear of making a bad impression that could lead their peers and officers to send them packing during the frequent peer evaluation-elimination sessions (sociometry). So my cluelessness was not because my former mates were a crew of English peers; fear and mature restraint simply made my early environment a place where cursing was seen yet not heard.

Hebrew is the second reason why it took me so long to recognize the scale of cursing in the army. In English I find cursing distasteful – I myself almost never curse and when people do, the Midwesterner in me has to consciously constrain himself from asking them to watch their language. I find cursing needlessly vulgar and poserish. But in Hebrew, curse words lack the same sting. If anything, I find them humorous and curious. So while I do not use many of the following terms, I do find reason to smile and admire the buzz of vulgar slang my peers throw back and forth with impunity.

WARNING: Do not read further if cursing, in any language, offends you.


Ahabal Doofus, dumbass.

Comes from Arabic, as do most of the curses in Hebrew slang.

Despite the risk in giving him a gun, I wouldn’t trade the ahabal in my platoon for anything. His screw-ups are just too funny.

li’Aber To cheat, to lie.

The source of li’Aber is the word oober (embryo) as if those one is cheating/lying to are children, as if they are, in the English colloquial, ‘born yesterday.’

Do not try to li’Aber during tonight’s navigation. Because what, you think I was born yesterday? I’ll know and you will suffer for cheating.

Aiza basa ‘What a shame;’ Damn, that sucks.

Basa seems to be Arabic for shame. Prefaced by the simple Hebrew term aiza (which, that), the expression takes on an angrier meaning: ‘that sucks,’ i.e. damn it! Similar terms (see defs.) include Inal deenak, keebineemat, and koos emek.

You promised me time off, get someone else to do it. Aiza basa! (courtesy of 'You Don’t Mess With the Zohan')

Arse (pl. arsim) Low-class Israeli male punk.

Defining the arse properly requires a separate article (or simply watch this bizarre video). The reason is not simply because the stereotypes surrounding the arse are so extensive and colorful. The main reason is that the typical arse is, in broad brushstrokes, a large slice of lower class Sephardi youth, and so all the pejoratives assigned to the arse come with the historical tension with which Ashkenazi dominated Israeli society has viewed and treated the Sephardi minority (see here for a quick perspective). The typical arse is also a fair description of the average young male Arab (the likeness between Sephardim and Arabs, of course, is part of the racist tension both communities face. As a Moroccan Jew in the previous link says, “When I look in the mirror I see an Arab. I’ve been taught to hate my own self image all my life.”), providing a further sense of the broader sociopolitical tension behind the use of the class slur arse.

That said, most teenage army soldiers use the term with no broader message other than to describe the sort of low-life greasers they either look down on or confidently embrace as their own biography. The arse they speak of is defined by his fashion, ethnicity and behavior. Gender is also important: arsim are male. While female arsimarsiot—do exist, they tend to be weirdly manly and unappealing even to most arsim. The female equivalent of the male arse is the female frecha (see def.). As for etymology, arse is unsurprisingly an Arabic word, where it has a range of meanings, including pimp, bastard, hero and cuckold.

Fashion-wise, the clothes of the typical arse are tight and loud: the pants close to the hips, the tops covered in fancy (and fake) labels, often replaced instead by a plain wife-beater. Like American gangstas, jewelry is on prominent display: gold chains and a flashy magen david (star of David) or chai (life) are the ice of choice. Up top, the arse will have his hair styled, gelled, slicked, partially dyed platinum or otherwise spiked into some form befitting the derogatory arse nickname: kipud, hedgehog. The arse is rarely seen without proper shoes, an oddity in a country full of barefoot hipsters and sandal slapping settler types.

Most arsim are Sephardi Jews of Moroccan, Persian or Yemenite descent (though Ashkenazi arsim exist as well). This Middle East heritage explains much of arse culture, especially language and location. Hebrew slang, heavily informed by Arabic, is the common tongue of the arse. A friendly arse, drawing off the rich legacy of Middle Eastern hospitality, is quick to call complete strangers endearing slang terms like kapara (see def.) and motek (sweetie). Because most moshavim and kibbutzim were established by the state’s Ashkenazi founders well before most Sephardi immigrants arrived in the 1950s, these communities are largely free of arsim. The arse is essentially an urban blight, most prevalent in towns such as Bat-Yam, Netanya, Petach Tikva, Ashdod, Lod, Beer Sheva and various neighborhoods in South Tel Aviv, Lower Haifa and parts of Jerusalem. In all these locales, the arse can typically be found late on weekend nights spoiling for a fight, ready to respond to any perceived injustice violently. Like his lower class peers across America, the arse on the brink of provoking needless violence will ask his friends to “hold him back” before he “makes prison mistakes.”

Despite (or because of) his violent temperament, the arse rarely serves as a combat soldier (the one exception is the Golani Brigade, known for a high percentage of arsim—and for a high number of combat accidents). Instead he is usually a cook, quartermaster or driver. The arse makes up for this lack of manliness outside the army by carrying a switchblade and broadcasting loud and annoying Arabic style Israeli pop (known as mizrahi, or eastern) music on his cellphone. Trance music is another fave, though there is no surer way of ruining an outdoor trance nature party than a party of arsim showing up uninvited.

The violent attitude of the arse is also expressed in his political, religious and sport preferences. Right wing parties, either the Likud or the Shas Sephardi Religious Party, claim his vote. God claims his faith, though the arse’s spiritual leanings are typically limited to occasionally doffing a cheap kippa and referencing Sephardi luminaries like Ovadiah Yosef while casually disregarding the finer details of religious life. His devotion to a favorite soccer team is more genuine. The arse team of choice is Beitar Jerusalem, providing the yellow and black with a rabid fan base well known for starting fights and mocking opposing players.

After such a long explanation, you have only yourself to blame if you fail to avoid arsim in Israel.

Ashkenazi ‘Jews of German, and more broadly European descent;’ Cracker, aka skinny white guys.

Ashkenazi refers more to appearance and state of mind than ethnicity. While the ashkenazi tends to be an extremely pale, awkward person whose family tree is mired in central and eastern Europe, the true ashkenazi suffers from a lack of emotions, humor, spontaneity, and appreciation for Arabic style Israeli pop (mizrahi) music and spicy food. A similar, though rarely heard, slang expression is yogurt, which has been described as “a fair skinned, well-off Ashkenazi geek with a tendency towards vegetarianism.” In other words, yours truly!

Look at that ashkenazi, awkwardly trying to dance to the pulsating mizrahi music and make eyes with all the cute Sephardi girls. Loser!

At/a chai beseret ‘You (f/m) live in a movie;’ To describe someone as ridiculous, absurd or ignorant.

Ata chai beseret can also be used affectionately, to suggest someone is out of touch minus the malice. Most of the time, however, the expression carries enough contempt to qualify as a dis.

You think girls dig the red beret? You wish, ata chai beseret.

Autist ‘Autistic;’ Moron.

You see how he pointed the gun at himself while trying to unjam it? What an autist!

Bach’yan ‘One who cries;’ Complainer, whiner.

The suffix an is added to many adjectives to describe someone who personifies that adjective. Bo’che means ‘cry,’ and so with the ‘an’ at the end its becomes ‘someone who cries/whines.’ There are many examples of this ‘an’ ending on this list, like chapshan, chartitan, kapshan, etc.

He is simply a bach’yan, I cannot ask him to do anything without him whining.

Beezayone Disgrace.

She is such a beezayone. Her day off and she did not move out of her bed once.

Ben-zona Son of a whore.

Is used as a common insult (the Israeli equivalent of ‘son of a bitch’) or to express how awesome something is.

You ben-zona, we missed the movie because of you. And I heard the film is really ben-zona!

ya’Boozdinak Holy crap, good lord.

“A dirtier version of Golly Gee” is how an Israeli friend defined the term. Really! Has Arabic roots, though I have no idea what they are.

Ya’Boozdinak, we are in a desert and it is raining! I cannot believe this.

Bunker Miser, miserliness.

Bunkers are such a universal military position that the English term is adopted wholesale by nearly every army in the world. Army Hebrew adds an extra slang use to the word, drawing off the association from the strong defensive redoubt to describe the most extreme of misers. Bunker has the same meaning as kamtzan and garzen (see defs.), only it carries a stronger sense of stinginess than those synonyms.

Don’t waste time asking him for anything. He is such a bunker, an army of sappers could not convince him to share his stuff with you.

Chalavi ‘Milky;’ Cowardly, weak, unmanly.

Cow muscle (yep, that what your steak is) is manly, cow milk is not. Or at least that is what this common pejorative suggests. A less common takeoff is the expression ‘milky way,’ the English term crossing over into Israeli slang to express (a) taking the path of least resistance, (b) displaying such cowardice/weakness that it is as if you have entered your own galaxy of unmanliness.

Being unable to remove the hand guards (makpitzim) on your M16 is a sure sign you are chalavi.

Chapper Someone who does the minimum or fulfills a task in the poorest way possible.

Sounds Yiddish, right? Beats me what the source of the term really is.

A poor lieutenant will have a platoon full of chapperim (plural).

Chapshan A lazy soldier.

Chayal PaSHut, ‘simple soldier,’ is the most accepted source for this term. miCHAPesh taSH, ‘search out tash,’ is another possible source. Either way, a derogatory—and considering the culture of this army, a very common— expression.

Honestly, who in our battalion is not a chapshan at heart?

Charman Horny person.

Serving in the infantry would make anyone a charman. Blame all the crawling and lonely sentry posts.

Charta biPita ‘Shit in a pita;’ BS.

Yes, the image is horrible. But Israelis love their pita so much that macabre expressions of this kind make it into the slang lexicon.

Our training is all charta biPita. We run around like headless chickens and don’t learn any real military skills.

Chartitan Bullshitter.

Charta +an = someone full of shit, i.e. a bullshitter.

What a chartitan! This base is nothing like what he said.

Chatichat charah/zayin Piece of shit/penis.

You chatichat charah, one more word out of you and I’ll tear your cheeks off.

Chatzuf Rude.

A chatzuf has no respect and is full of—care to guess? Chutzpa, of course. Chatzuf serves as both an adjective and a noun (like most words on this list), while the similar term chutzpan has the same meaning yet is only a noun. See also pa’ur.

The first soldier punished in basic is always a shockist (see def.). The second? A chatzuf.

Cheekmook Slob, messy.

Describes a soldier’s appearance and/or the condition of his gear. A related pejorative is Cheekimooki, someone so cheekmook they resemble a monkey more than a man.

I don’t even need to inspect your gear. One glance at your unkempt dress is enough to see how cheekmook you are. Your nothing but a cheekimooki!

Chi’noon Nerd.

The Paratroops has many a chi’noon, that’s what happens when you put so many nerdy Ashkenazim together in one brigade.

Chofer Annoying person.

The slang term comes from the word l’chafer, to dig, since an annoying person just keeps digging, getting under your skin, with his annoyance.

Leave me alone, you chofer. Go annoy someone else already!

Cholei (cholat) nefesh ‘Sick soul;’ Messed up.

Tends to be used mostly by girls, hence the feminine cholat nefesh is more common. In short, a girly cussword.

Honestly, you are cholat nefesh, stop saying nice things about me when I know you don’t really love me.

Chooshee’ling Especially, completely.

This Arabic root word is usually applied to negative circumstance. Foo-sheeling is the same word pronounced by folksy Midwesterners trying to fake it in the Middle East.

It is cold chooshee’ling outside.

Cocksineel Faggot.

In French ('coccinelle') this word means ladybug and is also a derisive term for guys in drag. The popularity of French slang in Israel in the 1950s accounts for the army's embrace of the word (As explained by Daniel L!).

Of course our commander hates me. He is a cocksineel.

Dafook Idiot, idiotic.

Dafook is one of several words that all describe, more or less, a moron. The list includes: ahabal, autist, dafook, dibeel, gazur, mitoomtam, saroot and tembel. Each word has its own nuance, though distinguishing between these words is difficult. Someone dafook does things that just scream of idiocy. A dafook is assertively idiotic rather than passively so like the more benign tembel.

You are so dafook, you were supposed to organize the platoon’s rations, not eat all of them!

Dapar, Daparit
Derug Psihotechni Rishoni, ‘Initial psychometric ranking;’ Stupid.

Dapar is one of the parameters used to classify new recruits, drawn from a pre-draft psychometric test. The dapar forms much of a soldier’s kaba, the numbered grade that largely decides where a soldier can serve (a high kaba is necessary for officer school and most elite units). Because receiving a low dapar suggests low intelligence, the term is slang for stupid (noun & adj).

You are really not funny at all, just plain dapar.

Dati liDaati ‘Religious per his mindset;’ Religious when he wants to be.

Datlash dati lishe’avar ‘Religious in the past;’ Someone who once was religious.

Many nonreligious soldiers in the army love to mess with religious soldiers by questioning the latter’s religiosity. Such comments play off the fact that some religious soldiers do indeed lose their faith or falter in their observance during the army. Realities and snide remarks have created a need for slang like datlash and dati lidaati to comment on the phenomena of faltering faith. Of the two expressions, dati lidaati is harsher, designed not to describe an overly intellectual type whose picks and choose based on his own rational calculus but an indiscriminate sort who brushes aside observance when it is inconvenient or not to his benefit.

On the descent into apostasy, dati lidaati may come before datlash but it is the far more hypocritical phase.

Dibeel Imbecile.

A dibeel is just plain stupid.

Can you believe he fell asleep while the instructor was staring at him? A complete dibeel.

Dromi ‘Southerner;’ Residents of southern Israel with arse like tendencies.

Anyone from Beersheva to Eilat, most often found in small development towns like Arad and Dimona. Dromi are arse like punks, saved from complete arsedom only by their relative backwoodness from the urban sleaze that defines the true arse.

On my first night in Israel on birthright, a bunch of dromi punks stole my wallet. Now that I joined the army, these are the guys I serve with.

Fadicha Embarrassing mistake.

A fadicha is more than a faux pas. It is a slip-up that verges on the pathetic yet promises definite laughs when recounted later in the safety of friends. A similar Arabic term is fashla (see def.).

Sometimes I wonder whether joining the army is the fadicha or the fashla of my life?

Faltzani Phony.

Describes one who puts on airs, intellectually/culturally. Derived from the verb lihafleetz, to fart.

My friend warned me I would come across as faltzani if I told other soldiers about my travels in the Middle East before the army.

Fashla Disastrous mistake.

While a fadicha is embarrassing and even humorous, a fashla tends to be a more serious slip-up. Israelis, always keen to embrace the extreme, tend to throw fashla around for trivial catastrophes, to the extent that the word even has a verb form, leFashel.

Throwing a practice grenade at a friend would have been a real fashla had someone gotten hurt. As it is, it will probably go down as my biggest fadicha in the army.

Frecha (pl. Frechot) Tart.

A ditzy girl with too much make-up, too short a skirt, and designer nails that would make Edward Scissorhand jealous. Often accompanied by an arse, so familiarizing oneself with the definition of the arse is enough to avoid frechot as well.

I thought Israel was a land of Bar Rafaelis and hot soldier girls. So where do all these frechot fit in?

Friar Sucker, dupe.

Sort of the opposite of the arse, though both are negative expressions. The arse takes advantage of people. The friar gets taken advantage of. Two role-models no one wants pinned on their shoulder.
Our officer is such a friar, letting the other squads get here first and sign on all the good gear.

Fuk (pl. Fukeem) A screw-up for which soldiers are punished.

Translating fuk as ‘screw-up’ explains how the origin of this term is the English swearword fuck. Despite deriving from the most vulgar of English cusswords, fuk has zero sexual association. Officers and soldiers alike use the word all the time to refer to, for instance, a fuk b’rashmatz (screwing up the inventory list) or a fuk b’ameenut (‘breaking trust,’ dishonesty, among the most serious infractions in the army).

Anyone who does that many fukeem is bound to be kicked out.

Ganoov ‘Stolen;’ Out of your mind.

Describes someone acting crazy, as if his mind is stolen.

What, are you ganoov? Heading off to sentry duty in slippers and not regulation combat boots?

Garzen ‘Axe;’ Miser.

A garzen does not release his goods for anything. He is a bigger miser than the kamtzan, less than the bunker.
I may be a kamtzan but I am not the garzen you are. To prove it, I’ll give you something—here, you can have my dirty laundry.

Gazur Messed up (in the head).

The source of this word—liGzor, to cut—suggests that a crucial nerve in the brain is damaged, causing someone to be messed up. A screw loose, in other words. Saroot (see def.) also suggests someone is brain damaged, except as a result he acts super intense rather than mentally challenged.

He is such a gazur I have doubts whether he should be issued a weapon.

Goel nefesh
‘Disgusting soul;’ Disgusting.

Like cholat nefesh, only nasty rather than messed up.

Anyone who thinks eating cereal with water is disgusting does not know the meaning of goel nefesh.

Inal deenak, inal Sherlock Damn.

Like choosheeling and aiza basa, these twin Arabic expressions are used in the face of a bad situation. Inal Sherlock has another kink, suggesting that the situation is so bizarre or miserable that it requires the powers of a Sherlock Holmes to solve. Similar terms include aiza basa, keebineemat, koos emek.

Inal deenak, I have no idea what to do from here onward in this navigation.

Jeefa Nasty trash, slimy dirt.

Arabic in origin, describes trash or anything dirty and disgusting.

Clean all this jeefa up from the bathroom and our work here is done.

Jobnik Non-combat soldier.

From the English word ‘job,’ with the Russian suffix ‘nik’ (like kibbutznik): someone with a military job, i.e. a desk job, rather than the real work performed by an infantry grunt. Although there are elite non-combat assignments in military intelligence, combat soldiers widely consider all desk soldiers pansies and fit for mockery. Jobnik hence usually carries a pejorative meaning, though the expression can and is also used purely descriptively.

In the infantry, they teach us to love the suck. And to despise the jobnik.

Kader Klitah Derekh Reglaiim, ‘Absorption through the legs;’ Any pointless, unpleasant army activity.

This expression wrapped up in an acronym suggests that running is the route to edification, an apt philosophy for a term that denotes senseless military activity. Kader has expanded past its roots in the physical to encompass everything soldiers deem senseless or unpleasant. So reporting to the army on Saturday night after a weekend leave? Kader. Using inferior equipment? Kader. Waking up early to exercise? Kader. Faulty logistics? Kader. Some say the source of the term is kadoor, ball, from a typical kader in basic training: sprinting back and forth between two random points like a bouncing ball. Bullshit. But no more bullshit than kader itself. Kader is so pervasive that like its yin-yang twin, tash, the entire army experience can be divided between tash or kader.

We wake up to kader, go to sleep to kader. Good Lord, who knew I was drafting to the Israel Kader Force.

Kamtzan l’Kamsetz ‘to hoard;’ Miser, cheap.

Carries the same basic meaning as bunker and garzen, except with a lighter sting and a greater use.

Israeli guy: You are such a kamtzan, what are you, Persian?
Me: Um, Persian?
Israeli Guy: Yeah, Persian, because Persians are so cheap. Only Americans are worse.

liKastaich Kisui tachat; Cover your ass.

When a soldier tries to disguise subpar work or when an officer tries to pass the buck onto his subordinates, they are performing a time honored army custom: liKastaich, covering one’s ass.

You can liKastaich in training but when the shit hits the fan in the field, it ain’t gonna help.

Keebineemat Damn.

This Russian curse sounds better when said with a whiny, Russian accent. Similar terms include aiza basa, inal deenak, koos emek.

Our driver drank too much vodka last night and now isn’t coming to pick us up? Keebineemat!

Kelev, ya Kelev Dog.

Israeli soldiers have nothing against dogs. The intent with this common insult is much the same as calling someone a ben-zona or maniac (see defs.).

Elyakim, ya kelev, go guard the entrance already.

Kriat tachat ‘Ripped ass;’ Suffering.

Any kader (see def.) that makes one feel like they are getting their ass ripped wide open can be described as kriat tachat.

All our training is kriat tachat.

Kooseet Babe, hot girl.

Despite the vulgar etymology—kooseet is Arabic for cunt—the term is widely used, by girls as well as guys. Or as another dictionary suggests, “You won’t actually get hit for using this as a compliment but some find it a little vulgar to flatter a girl by mentioning her intimate anatomy.” A less common term with the same meaning is the Latin word for cousin, koozeena.

Arguing over whose girlfriend is a real kooseet is a classic way to pass the time on a long hike.

Koos emek ‘Your mother’s cunt (Arabic);’ G-d damn it, motherfucker.

Easily the most common swear word in the army. Has a harder edge than aiza basa, inal deenak, and keebineemat, three similar terms. Arse (see def.) is sometimes added to the end of the curse, koos emek arse, to say one of several disputed expressions: (1) damn it, you arse; (2) your mother’s an arse; (3) an arse owns your mother’s cunt. A related curse is koos ima shel(cha/o), ‘your/his mother’s cunt,’ ‘motherfucker,’ in actual use.

Koos ima shelcha, I hate you. Don’t ever talk to me again.
Koos emek. There goes my last friend in the platoon.

Laf-laf Goofball.

That laf-laf kills me with his antics.

Ma’afan Below par.

Piss poor work is described as ma’afan, a term with Arabic roots that is rarely applied to people.

Your shiftzurim (see def.) are ma’afan. You are going to have to tear off the tape and start over from scratch.

Matzav shtayim ‘Second position,’ Pushup position.

Why is pushup position described as numeral deuce? Because the first position is standing at attention, the second position is dropping down on your hands and toes, ready to pump ‘em out at command. And third position is with chin touching the ground, bent down almost to the ground. Since no one can reasonably remain in position three very long, and because placing a soldier in second position makes him ready to bust out pushups at a moments notice, matzav shtayim is the classic military punishment position. While not a verbal expression as such, matzav shtayim qualifies for this list as the physical embodiment of cursing someone out.

Considering what the real army is like, if you want to prepare it makes more sense to work on staying in matzav shtayim than doing endless pushups.

Malsheen Snitch.

A tattle-tale, the goody-goody that rats on the boys. Especially if the boys are arsim, since malsheen is an expression especially popular among arsim. Also serves as a nickname for lieutenants, since any soldier who becomes a commissioned officer has pursued the path of the malsheen.

Part of building a strong team bond, in my unit at least, means a zero tolerance policy for the malsheen.

Ma’niac Fucker.

Despite the similarity of this very common curse to the English word ‘maniac,’ the source lies in Arabic, where the term is equivalent to the English F word. In army slang, ma’niac describes someone who is, as an Israeli friend explained “kinda bad, but not super bad.” In other words, a douchebag but not a total jerkowitz.

Did you see that dude just threw an egg at me from his window? Bat Yam, what a town full of ma’niacs.

Ma nisgar itcha ‘What is closed with you?;’ What is wrong with you?

If someone is acting messed up, stupid or simply annoying, ma nisgar itcha is a tried and true way of putting him in his place.

Ma nisgar itcha? How many times must I tell you to shut up and listen to the instructions?

Mastool Stoned, stoner.

A mastool is not really someone who takes drug but someone so out of sorts, acting so weird, that he seems like he must be bopped up on something.

How this mastool was allowed to enlist into the infantry, I will never understand. He is simply bonkers.

Mefager Retard.

Mefager actually means medically retarded, one of those cusses that is not ashamed to take a word with real meaning and throw it around for maximal damage.

You mefager, if I have to show you one more time how to tie your laces, I’ll tie them around your neck!

Mitoomtam Moron.

No common sense. Plain stupid. Even stupider than a dafook (see def.). Synonyms: dafook, dibeel, gazur, saroot and tembel.

What a mitoomtam! He fell asleep on sentry duty despite knowing a group of senior officers were scheduled to come by his post.

Mizdayen Fuck

Mizdayen is rarely used as a curse itself but serves as the root of some of the most common swear words, including: Ani mizayen otcha, fuck you, literally ‘I’ll fuck you,’ probably the most common curse in the army; Lech teezdayen, go fuck yourself, fuck off; Mizayen et haMoach, fuck with my mind; Mizdyneem, fuckers. The root of miZdaYeN, of course, is zayin, penis.

You just like to mizayen et haMoach with your orders. Well, you can lech teezdayen. No way I am doing what you Mizdyneem want. What? I have to!? Ani mizayen otcha.

Mizken Pity, pitiful person.

This word is not slang but it qualifies as a curse because in addition to its sympathetic regular meaning, it also functions as a putdown, meaning something like ‘cry-baby.’

Did you see the size of his backpack? What a mizken!

Mizrachi ‘Easterner, aka Jews from Arab countries;’ Excessively ethic and clannish Jews from Arab countries.

Like ashkenazi (see def.), mizrahi rendered into slang is less about ethnicity and more about appearance and behavior. So while the formal term denotes Jews from the Arab world (Mizrahi and Sephardi have the same meaning, except in Israel—unlike the rest of the Jewish world—the former is the more common of the two) mizrahi as slang describes anyone with dark complexion who favors whining Arab style pop music sung by someone named Peretz, nurtures a fiery inferiority complex, and is unnecessarily clannish with other such types. In short, anyone who exhibits exaggerated stereotypical ethnic Mizrahi behavior gets tagged as mizrahi.

Avi Peretz, Kobi Peretz, Wilfred Peretz…enough already! Stop being so mizrahi and put normal music on.

Moor’al ‘Poisoned;’ A soldier who loves the army with overwhelming and at times annoying zeal.

A moor’al soldier is poisoned with love for the army, as if the passion comes from something in his blood.

It is normal to be moor’al when you enlist, strange to be so motivated a year or so later.

Nochel Crook, schemer.

He talks like a gentleman with the ladies but we all know he is a
nochel, all he wants is sex.

Oketz, akatz (v) ‘Sting;’ Someone who avoids grueling army activity.

Like the movie The Sting, an oketz scams like no other to get out of grueling military activity. While generally used to say ‘you good for nothing lazybones,’ oketz is also used in the descriptive sense. Not to be confused with the IDF canine unit named Oketz, despite the fact that both the men and dogs there succeed in avoiding the tougher military duties.

Daniel Solomon akatz his entire service. He is the biggest oketz I know.

Partzoof tachat ‘Butt-face;’ Unhappy looking.

Like pornography, a partzoof tachat is one of those things you know when you see it.

Don’t be such a partzoof tachat. You’ll get to go on a mission next week.

Pa’ur 'Wide-open;' Cheeky rookie soldier.

A pa'ur is not simply rude like the chatzuf (see def)but displays a lack of respect all the more unconscionable because a pa'ur is, by suggestion, a no-nothing tzair (see def.)who should be seen and not heard. Pa'ur can also have a less pejorative meaning, referring only to the general naivete of rookie soldiers.

The way he talks back to our commander, I knew he was a classic pa’ur the day he joined the platoon.

Rakuv ‘Rotten;’ Lazy.

Calling someone rakuv means there are lazy to the point of rotting, decomposed and beyond the world of activity forever.

Most soldiers are rakuv, good for nothing, every day of the week save Monday and Tuesday.

Reetook 'Confinement;' A punishment that involves losing home leave (i.e. staying in the army) for up to thirty-five days straight.

Though not a verbal curse, rituk is the most common army punishment after losing a single weekend home leave. One wonders what effect closing twenty-eight or thirty-five days straight in the army is supposed to have on a punished soldier’s morale.

Because soldiers in the Israeli army go home several times a month, getting punished with a rituk really sucks.

Rosh katan ‘Small head;’ A person or action that shows no initiative and does only what is absolutely necessary.

The opposite of the rosh katan is the rosh gadol, the ‘big head,’ who takes initiative and goes above and beyond the call of duty to fulfill the spirit, and not just the letter, of the law. While acting like a rosh gadol sounds praiseworthy, in the army soldiers can be criticized for following either approach (and likewise, both rosh katan and rosh gadol can be terms of praise). Taking initiative, displaying independence, is not always the path to win acclaim in a rules-bound institution run by twenty year old commanders insecure about their own authority and decision making.

The army has taught me that success is not so much about being a rosh katan or rosh gadol but about reading a given situation and bearing in mind the temperate of my superiors.

liSanjer, (n) sanjeran To screw someone over, getting screwed over.

As much as the army talks up unit cohesion, the true social ethic of the army is screwing over others. A sanjeran is someone who keeps getting stuck with tasks nobody wants to do. He may think he is selflessly volunteering but everyone else knows better.

My peers lisanjer me all the time, every night I wind up with the worst hour of guard duty.

Saroot Cracked, too intense.

Like gazur, saroot suggests one is mentally unbalanced. But here the mental problem issues forth with irrational levels of intensity.

My squad leader is so saroot, ask him to comb the hill for further enemy and he gets down on all fours and searches every speck of sand.

Satlan Stoner, Hippie.

Unlike a mastool (see def.), the ‘stoner’ acting all crazy and keyed up on drugs, a satlan describes the grungy, lazy, indifferent stoner, the apathetic hippy.

I would take a platoon of mastool soldiers over the satlan I serve with. Sure, they’d be nuts, but at least they would give a damn about something.

Shachor ‘Black;’ Culture of breaking the rules.

To be shachor is to be black as sin, since going black in the army means to not follow the rules. Shachor is the opposite of tzahov (yellow). And just as a yellow soldier carries a whiff of a despised teacher's pet, to be shachor often qualifies as cool in army circles. Shachor met (black as death) is a similar expression, describing someone or something that is utterly shachor (met, 'death,' is often used in Hebrew as an adverbial expression for 'really,' like: 'I am met to do that, I really want to do that).

It is not a coincidence that the symbol of my unit is a big ol’ black bird. Cuz’ we are shachor met, and proud of it.

Shachtzan Show-off.

The word chizon, ‘appearance,’ seems to be the source for a term that describes someone full of himself. A sachtzan thinks and acts like he is the best at everything.

It sucks having an officer who is a shachtzan. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Shamen Fatty.

Like other words on this list (ashkenazi, mizrahi), a shamen is used to describe behavior more than body size or ethnic identity. Sure, someone called shamen usually is overweight. But the real use of the slang term captures how someone acts like a fatty, constantly preoccupied by his appetite and overly excited by food.

He is so shamen. The only thing he remembers from the gibush (see def.) is the meals.

Sharmoota Slut.

Arabic. Otherwise, the term speaks for itself.

In English they would call her the village bicycle. Here we just call her sharmoota.

Shavuz, shvizoot Shavur zayin, ‘Broken penis;’ Army depression.

Impotent may be the simplest definition. Despair, depression and disinterest are the three Ds that sum up the shavuz soldier feels. Yet to truly understand the term shavuz, you must enter the mind of the disappointed soldier. Like elderly men before Viagra, shavuz soldiers cannot rally any excitement to perform their tasks. Their will is broken.
Shvizoot yom alef (Sunday shvizoot) is a common slang expression that serves as the army equivalent of the Monday blues, that disappointed feeling coming back to work for the start of what is sure to be another draining week. The term is a play on the expression tarbut yom alef (cultural Sunday) that designates a Sunday set aside for educational tours.

Can you imagine the shivzoot? The day he returns from sick leave they made him work in the kitchen for three months straight! No wonder he is so shavuz.

She'elat kitbeg ‘Kitbag question;’ A stupid and superfluous question that results in the questioner becoming newly obligated in a matter he was previously exempt.

The apocryphal origin of this expression lies in basic training with the large canvas bag soldiers are issued to house their equipment. A group of soldiers are ordered to run somewhere. An especially dim soldier raises his hand and asks, “With my kitbag?” “Since you asked,” replies the commander, “yes, you have to run with your kitbag.”

Our training would have been far easier were it not for the she’elat kitbeg asked every day.

Shikdei marak, ‘Soup nuts (croutons);’ A squad of by-the-book (tzahov) soldiers.

A squad of by-the-book troopers, so tzahov (see def.) that they stand perfectly at attention, their beds are perfectly made and everything about their appearance is uniform and perfect. These overly eager soldiers are like the bright yellow croutons that float in perfect rows in soup.

In basic training, my elite unit stood out from the regular grunts like a bunch of shikdei marak in black lentil soup.

Shockist Someone in shock.

Those Army Hebrew slang terms with English roots are particularly captivating. Shockist and shock are the most common examples, with dazed and confused American volunteer soldiers ironically being the most common targets for the derisive term.

What, are you in shock? You never know what is going on, just a total shockist.

Shwarma ‘Sliced lamb cooked on a revolving spit;’ Red and chafed skin on the sides of the waist and back.

Shwarma are the result of sweating on a long army marches as a heavy vest or backpack rubs against the skin. While strategically layering medical tape over key areas can head off part of the problem, there is no true remedy for painful shwarma.

As traumatizing as the night long march was, what really ticks me off is the painful shwarma I still have up and down my sides and back.

Smar’toot ‘Mop;’ A total zero, weak and messy.

Like a measly, old mop, someone described as smar’toot is a mess who would be better served assigned to cleanup duty than the military activity he is supposedly working on. See cheekmook.

He carries himself like such a smar’toot, I cannot stand marching next to him.

Sociomat Egoist.

One of the worst, and common, names to call a soldier is a sociomat. Someone who thinks only of himself and does not care about others is the ultimate enemy of unit cohesion, the most celebrated and desired principle in the military. Sociomat also describes a miser, much like bunker, garzen and kamtzan.

We did not even need to call a vote to kick him out of our unit. The fact that he is a sociomat is obvious to everyone.

Soteh Pervert.

An infantry platoon of nineteen year olds is a surprisingly forgiving place. All the grime and grueling tasks, not to mention the familial vibe that comes from living on top of each other, means soldiers are ready to excuse most behavior. So getting tagged as soteh is a rare, and especially humiliating, occurrence.

The cafeteria never serves warm apple pie. I’d like to think it is not because they think my unit is a bunch of soteem (plural).

Tembel Fool.

This lighthearted slang term for a fool is most famous as the name for the agricultural hat that is something of an Israeli national symbol, the kova tembel or tembel hat.

What a tembel, he was told to go to the kitchen (mitbach) and he showed up with his gun at the firing range (mitvach).

Tihiye baree ‘Be healthy;’ Take care.

The expression is used in the literal sense to someone who is ill or otherwise impaired. Yet usually tihiye baree is said in a derisive tone, to comment on another’s foolish intentions. As in, “take care with that, you moron.”

I thought my commander had my best intentions in mind when he wished me tihiye baree as I left base on sick leave. But then when I saw him giving me the finger, I figured out what he was really getting after.

Tzahov ‘Yellow;’ Rule-abiding.

While in English yellow suggests cowardice, in Hebrew army slang the color describes a goody two-shoes, a by-the-book trooper who never dips into the gray while scrupulously following every letter of the law. Since most soldiers enjoy nothing better than flouting military doctrine, a yellow soldier is often a social pariah, albeit one granted a certain grudging admiration for his virtuous orthodoxy. The opposite of tzahov is shachor ('black,' see def.), as American rapper Wiz Khalifa seemed to know when he rhymed ‘Yeah ah ha, you know what it is, Black and yellow, black and yellow, Black and yellow, black and yellow.’

What the heck is wrong with that kid? Why he got to go and be so tzahov with the rules all the time?

Tzair ‘Youngster;’ Rookie.

Like many terms on this list, tzair has a descriptive/proper meaning—a soldier in his first two years of service (a vatik, see ref., is a veteran soldier) — and a normative/slang meaning: a mocking way to call someone a rookie. Since inexperience in the army tends to translate into greater discipline and selflessness, displaying such behavior is a surefire way for the overweening rookies to be tagged as tzair. Dropping a well timed tzair is one of the joys of Army Hebrew— the context is universal, the shame on the receiving end only expunged by shared joy in the application of the term.
Tzair is used in the less common slang shi’tze (shtoke tzair, shut up youngster), an expression used to shut up uppity new soldiers.
A similar term that has fallen out of general use is chong, a complete tzair whose etymology is said to be 'green' in some Semitic language or the nickname for little kids in India that push wheelbarrows around. A more common play on chong is the term chongiot, an expression for the colored shoulder straps soldiers wear at the start of a course (including basic training) that, unintentionally, screams out that they are tzair!

He voluntarily gave up his weekend leave? Tzair!

Tzfoni ‘Northerner;’ Snotty, rich white guy.

The proper use of tzfoni describes a soldier who resides in northern Israel and hence gets out extra early on weekend leave. The slang use has another meaning entirely, derisively describing the snobby, rich residents of northern Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s wealthier neighborhoods.

Look at the running shorts on that tzfoni, what does he think this is, his parents private country club in northern Tel Aviv?

Yatzur ‘Creature;’ Creep, weirdo.

The army is said to make men out of boys. Its effect on the yatzur the next tent over is less productive.

Zayin/tachat sheli ‘My penis/ass;’ No way in hell.

Zayin, tachat and chara— penis, ass and feces—are the basis of many Hebrew profanities. Adding the simple self possessive sheli makes a term that expresses frustration and unwillingness to cooperate. Often the term is prefaced with al ha, ‘on,’ as in: al haTachat sheli, ‘on my ass,’ to sharpen the meaning: ‘I have zero interest in that.’ Kol hazayin, ‘all the penis,’ has a related though distinct meaning. Instead of rejecting out of hand, this response says: ‘it sucks but I’ll do it.’

You want me to do what!? Al hazayin sheli, I won’t do that miserable work. I have to? Kol hazayin!

Zambura otcha I will fuck you up.

You ate my Bamba while I was out? Zambura otcha, you bamba eating coward.

Zrikat zayin ‘Throwing penis;’ Not giving a damn.

When a superior says his soldiers are displaying zrikat zayin, it usually means he is pretty pissed and they are about to suffer.

By the end of our six month deployment, soldiers were zrikat zayin about everything.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that was a pretty comprehensive list of slang words that any oleh chadash going into the army should know.
    Most of those words aren't curses and some aren't even slang, but a great word list nonetheless!