Arabic Swear Words You Need to Know (And Keep to Yourself!)

So, have you decided to finally learn some Arabic this summer? Then you may want to learn some Arabic swear words. No, we’re not kidding. Why wouldn’t you learn about insults when they’re so frequently used (both jokingly and earnestly) by native speakers? After all, if someone is insulting you or calling you names, it’s only natural to want to know exactly what they’re saying, right?

Besides, let’s face it. No matter how old we are, when it comes to foreign insults and swear words, we are always curious. Isn’t it one of the first things we ask foreign friends about?

Now, though we are all in favour of having a good arsenal of Arabic insults in our repertoire, we hope that you will only memorise them to know what to do if someone uses them against you. Okay?

Having said this, let’s get started.


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“Polite” Arabic Swear Words

Sometimes, you call your friends “silly” or even “b*tch”, and we both know nobody means any harm. Just like in English, not all Arabic swear words are truly insulting. Here is a list of lighter Arabic insults that people often used to joke with their friends.

1. Al’ama ( العمى) – Damn

Though this word literally translates to “blindness” in English, Arabs use it in the same situations in which we would  use “Damn.”

2. Hemar ( الحمار ) – Donkey

The word hemar literally means “donkey.” But it also has a different, less polite meaning: ”ass.” Telling a friend that he or she is a hemar is like telling them they’re a bit stupid.

3. Hayawan ( حيوان ) – Brute

No, this one has nothing to do with Hawaiian people, and it’s not a cellphone brand either. Hayawan simply means “animal,” and you would use it to tell somebody that they’re being a brute, clumsy or vulgar.

4. Ahbil ( اهبل ) – Stupid

Why use metaphors when you can say it as it is? Ahbil literally means “stupid,” and can be used in the same way we use “asshole.”

5. Qalil al’adab ( قليل الأدب ) – Of little literature

Literally meaning “of little literature,” Arabs would use this one to tell someone that they lack good manners or that they are not behaving in a civilized way.

6. Bikhil ( بخيل ) – Stingy

Hospitality is very important for Arabs. Actually, their skill and dedication as hosts Iis one of the things that they really pride themselves in. So it’s only natural that calling an Arab “stingy” can have an inflammatory effect! This Arabic insult means that they have failed at being a good Arab!

Strong Arabic Insults

Did someone just walk by and spit out an angry phrase you couldn’t recognize? That probably means that you just got a strong Arabic insult.

As you’re about to see, despite all our cultural differences, strong insults always revolve around the same things: poo, family, and genitalia (a combination of the last two being the most offensive ones!)

Let’s see a few of them.

1. Kess Ikhtak ( كيس اختك)

This one literally translates to “your sister’s vagina,” and is used to bash someone’s honour. Referring to the genitals of someone so close to you that it is supposed to make you feel angry and/or embarrassed.

2. ‍Kol Khara ( كل خرة)

Literally meaning “‍Eat shit”, this is what you would say if someone keeps banging on about trivial things. It’s similar to “Shut up,” but ruder.

3. Ayreh Feek ( عيرة فيك)

Most Arabic swear words have one-to-one English equivalents. In the case of Ayreh Feek, this equivalent is “f*ck you.” Though this is a common expression among friends, it can also be the last thing you hear before a gruesome fistfight.

4. ‍Kess Ommak (كس أمك. )

If you’ve been paying attention, the words kess will sound familiar to you. Clue: sisters have one. Well, as it happens, mothers have one as well, something that didn’t go unnoticed for Arabic people.

As you can imagine, this is the most insulting Arabic swear word you can find. You would only hear it from someone who’s very angry or wants to offend you really badly.

5. Yakhsaf allah bih al’ard (يخسف الله به الأر  )

Arabic insults don’t get much more dramatic than this one. Literally meaning “May God swallow the Earth underneath him,” this is the kind of insults that show true hatred can make you as imaginative and poetic as true love.

6. Chelb ( شيلب)

Animal lovers might find it hard to believe this, but chelb, the Arabic word for “dog,” is one of the strongest Arabic insults that you can find in this language. Actually, if you say chelb to someone’s face the next thing you might hear is the sound of their fist knocking your glasses off. Why the word “dog” can create such tensions we don’t know, but the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization might have something to say about this!

7. Ibn al Kalb ( ابن كلب)

Did you think that being called a dog was offensive for Arabs? Well, imagine how insulting it is to suggest their mother is one as well. Meaning “son of a dog,” this Arabic swear word combines two sensitive issues: dogs and people’s mothers!

Make sure you never say this one out loud, not even to a friend. You never know who might be listening.

8. Ya Gazma ( يا جازما)

Especially popular in the Egyptian dialect, this insult literally means “shoe.” Now, it might be hard to understand what Arabs’ problem with dogs is, but one can see why they (or anyone else!) would find this one so utterly degrading.

Seriously, what can be worse than the sole of a dirty shoe? Ew.

9. Ya Khara ( يا خارا)

Another insult revolving around “shit,” this one is as funny as it is degrading. Literally means “my piece of shit,” we find this one disturbingly tender. As you can imagine, it’s hard to say this one with a straight face, and it’s very common to hear young Arabs using it jokingly in informal conversations.

Do you want to go beyond Arabic swear words? We definitely hope so!

If you do, we invite you to take a few lessons with our wonderful Arabic teachers. Whether you go for group or individual classes, you’ll get personalized attention and lots of opportunities for real communication! Send us a message now and we’ll get back to you in no time with a personalized plan of the learning options available.

Explore our Arabic courses with qualified native teachers in your city or online.