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Hebrew Phrases in the News and Everyday Life

In the news and in interactions with native Hebrew speakers, there are some Hebrew phrases that confuse non-native speakers at one time or another. Here is a short list of some common modern Hebrew phrases that while similar to their literal meaning can sometimes mean very different things.

1. להקפיץ, מקפיץ Although the root of this word deals with the idea of jumping, and this form in particular means to bounce (a ball for example) this is the word tha you use when referring to being given a ride, or picked up by someone to go somewhere.
משה יקפיץ אותי בעוד שעה ונלך למסיבה

2. לעוף, עף is another word that can be used for it’s literal meaning “to fly” however is commonly used in Hebrew colloquialims to mean “to leave a place hurridly” or to tell someone to leave you alone or “get away”
אני חייב לעוף
עוף מפה!

3. כבר is an interesting word that is often used in Hebrew instant messaging as well as radio and news broadcasts. It means “already” but when used in certain contexts means “soon”.
(אנחנו) כבר חוזרים
This can be very important when setting a meeting with someone. If you’re confused, you can clarify whether they’re already at the set place or if they’ll be there soon by using בקרוב

4. לזרום, זורם in English literally means “to flow” but Israeli’s commonly use it to mean to adapt to unexpected circumstances changing the meaning more towards “to go with the flow”.
!זורם עם זה
אתה צריך ללמוד לזרום

5. לקרוע לך את התחת, קורע לך את התחת is a common phrase used in extreme circumstances that I’ve only seen quoted once in a news article. It is used to mean “to work really hard” or more figuratively “to work your butt off” but the word לקרוע means “to tear, rip”. It can also be used to mean “to kick your ass”.
Additionally, in slang, the adjective קורע can also be used to describe something funny and would be used to respond after a joke “קורע!” You can think of this as “side-splitting” which is an uncommon English phrase used to mean “funny”.

6. לעשות חיים, עושה חיים literally means “to do life” but is used to mean “to have a good time”.
הלילה אני הולך לעשות חיים!

7. לשבור שיניים, שובר שיניים means literally “to break teeth” but can be used to mean “to work really hard” or a משפט שובר שיניים is a “tongue twister”.
עם האתר הזה אתה תצליח ללמוד עברית בלי לשבור שיניים!

8. לחיות בסרט, חיים בסרט actually means something very close to its literal translation of “to live in a movie”. It is used to mean “to live in a dream world” or “to be disconnected from reality”.
אתה חי בסרט אם אתה חושב שתעבור את המבחן בלי ללמוד בכלל!

9. חבל על הזמן is an expression that means the opposite of what it sounds. חבל by itself is often used to express pity or bad luck. For example, after a missed opportunity you might here someone say “חבל, אבל פעם הבאה אני אצליח”. In contrast, if asked how a party or event was you could reply “היה חבל על הזמן!”

10. על הפנים literally means “on the face” but in slang means “terrible, very bad”. You can use this in response to a question about your well being or in response to the nature of an event, similar to the use of חבל.

11. לעמוד ל, עומד ל is not slang, but is worth understanding its use to mean “to be about to (do something)”.
הוא עומד לגנוב כסף מהבנק

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