Lebanese people are undeniably instinctively humorous that no one can beat or overpass their sense of fun and drollness. This, we agree and consent to! Considering that you have previously been through the Lebanese Slang Words, we’re displaying now a set of sayings that we Lebanese rarely take seriously or literally. They have rather become part of our slang language, regardless if we mean what we say or not! Let’s see to how many you can relate!
What’s unique about the word “wallah” meaning “I swear” – as it can also mean “really?” – is that almost everyone uses it in Lebanon, regardless of their religious views or beliefs. It has indeed become a crucial supportive element to anything we say! If someone has however said that word to you, don’t go assuming they will do whatever they said or promised, because “wallah” they don’t mean it literally.
#2. Khamse ed2aye2 bkoun 3andak (I’ll be with you in 5 minutes)!
This one is very common and popular! Any trip, like really, any trip would take us 5 minutes. Worse than that, if we were supposed to go to one of our friends’ place, which could be around 45-minute away, we would still insist on the 5-minute miraculous promise! Chances are, we may even use it when we’re taking our shower.
It usually happens when a visitor stands up to leave and we instantly say A3din, as in “But, we are sitting [enjoying the visit, stay.]” While it can be genuine in some specific situations, many of us use these statements to walk our visitors through the door and sugar-coat our relief at them (finally) leaving. These guests, after all, did say they were just passing by and couldn’t stay for long. So maybe we need to redefine what they originally meant by “not for long”?
#4. Khallouna na3mol shi (Let’s plan for something out)!
“Let’s do something” is not necessarily wanting really to do something; merely a vague “let’s stay in touch” invitation thrown in the air at the moment of saying bye. You could also see it everywhere on the comment sections of Facebook and Instagram, where school buddies (who used to bully each other) or former colleagues (who used to hate each other) call vaguely for a group outing, which is never scheduled anyways, and most probably never will.
#5. Kteer nbasatet sheftak/sheftik (I was so happy I bumped into you)!
In continuity with the above, you may bump into and come across one of #4 characters. Whenever they see you, they’re like: “OMG! I can’t believe my eyes, is that you?” or “It’s been a while, I am so happy we saw each other today!”
That’s when you very much know that most of the time it’s not true at all. There are mobile phones for a reason, you know? This kind of quick accidental and unplanned meetings does always end with: “Let’s plan for something together, ok?” whilst you may have never done anything together somewhere back when you used to study or work at the same place.
#6. Mnehke, inshallah (We’ll talk about it, God willing)
This is probably the best Lebanese way to close an argument or a case with someone who nags and complains.
It’s both a vital statement and a life-saver actually because you leave no room for negotiation or space for more demands. If, for instance, your friends kept on insisting you visit them abroad, you can just stick to “mnehke” and top it, of course, with “inshallah.”
So, while your buddies know you won’t come, they would as well reply back to you with an “inshallah.”
Kheir or “fine” is a very prevalent saying where a Lebanese shows hopefulness and a sense of reassurance even when it’s not the case at all. You have surely heard someone responding a morally supportive Kheir to a friend or colleague complaining about his unwell state, “man, mdeya2 kteer.”Kheir, in fact, means good, so please use it wisely next time.
#8. Khalas 3andeh (On me, don’t worry, it’s done!)
Whenever someone says this statement of Khalas 3andeh, you can directly decode their Lebanese DNA. What can I say? We’re indeed inherently keen to help and take the lead on everything.
And, because we all have our “endless” network of connections –yes, the kind of Lebanesewasta you constantly hear about–, we will look and search for the tiniest opportunities to use it, or… just brag about it.
Just think of a time when you were jobless, for example, or a legal document of yours got stuck in a governmental office, or you simply couldn’t register your child in a specific school, how many persons did tell you “Khallas 3andeh,” as in consider it done?
Whether you indeed got help or not from their network is irrelevant.
#9. Sallemle 3laya/3leih (Pass on my greetings to him/her)
The greetings that never pass on for some unknown, weird, unrevealed and mysterious reasons! If you just think now about how many third party salutations you didn’t convey to your mother, father, siblings or friends, you see how countless and endless they are! They are because sending greetings at every encounter is an inherent cultural feature of the Lebanese. Weird thing is that we always answer: “wessel” as in “consider it already arrived at its destination.”
Habibi means “my love, and it has been known worldwide as an endearment. However, it can have way other uses in Lebanon; not all so endearing and sweet. It’s also controversially used when we’re mad at someone and we want to tell them off or even threat them, “Leik Habibi, enta a3ref ma3min a3m tehke?” and it says “Listen habibi, do you know who I am?” Not so sweet love after all.
So, in reference to #1 and #6, and while others may (and we insist on may) sound true and honest, “Boukra inshallah” does certainly and definitely mean: “It won’t probably happen, neither tomorrow nor ever.”
While it does mean literally, “Tomorrow, God willing” and is a response to a request, it shouldn’t be taken literally. It’s mostly used to dismiss the request until once upon a time in an uncertain future. Unlike most countries where tomorrow does mean literally the next day, our “Boukra” could literally mean any time in the future.