Many people will tell you that the Greek language is one of the coolest and most sophisticated languages on the planet. As such, it stands to reason that Greek slang would similarly be as sophisticated and as cool!
As of the time of writing, only 13.4 million people speak Greek, mostly confined to Greece, a few Greek islands. There are also large Greek-speaking minorities in the US, UK and Turkey.
Looking at Greek, you’ll notice that it doesn’t use the Latin alphabet that English does. Instead, it uses the Greek alphabet. For the purposes of this article, all slang terms will be transliterated for you to use easily!
15. Télos – Whatever
For the most part, Greek slang has remained mostly the same, even with the rise of the internet. In other languages, internet slang has exploded, whilst it hasn’t really done so in Greek. It has, but not to the same extent…
If you were to look for télos in the dictionary, chances are that you wouldn’t find it. This is because télos is actually a shortened down version of the phrase télos pándon, which you would find in the dictionary.
Both télos and télos pándon translate as “Whatever”. Chances are that you’ll hear télos pándon in the streets, used to mean “Whatever” however, on the internet, you’ll just see télos being used to mean “Whatever”.
[Enter boring or monotonous conversation you couldn’t care less about}
14. Paidi mou – (Close) friend
Most languages have some from of endearment that can be used between friends. Paidi mou is kind of like that, but is used on a much larger scale, to the point where it arguably doesn’t have an English equivalent!
Paidi mou literally translates as “My child” and was initially used to mean that. Here, it was used as a term of affection – something you’d say to a little child to tell them that you loved them. Over time, its meaning has evolved…
Overwhelmingly, it is used by friends in a way that’s a mixture of “Dude”, “Mate”, “Bro” and all of the above! However, it’s also used between parents and grandparents to their children and grandchildren too!
“Paidi mou, min to káneis aftó”
13. Filos mou / Filia mou – Mate
If paidi mou isn’t really your style, why not try filos mou or filia mou? Thanks to both British and Australian slang, we are familiar with the term “mate”. In Greece, they have a similar term: filos mou and / or filia mou.
Literally speaking, filos and filia are to do with friendship. Filos translates as “Friend” whilst filia translates as “Friendship”. Mou on the other hand, translates as “my”.
However, filos mou and filia mou are used like “Mate”, “Dude” or “Bro” is.
Due to how the Greek language is, you would only use filos mou to describe a male friend. By the same token, you can only use filia mou to describe a female one.
“Ya filos mou! Teelei?”
12. Teelei? – Wassup?
When you were learning Greek, you were probably taught that pós eísai? was the Greek way of saying “How are you?” Whilst this will be used in formal settings, most Greeks will use another phrase to mean the same…
This phrase is teelei? Literally speaking, teelei? has no meaning whatsoever. Despite this, most Greeks teenagers will use it as a slang way of asking how you are, similarly to how many American teenagers use “Wassup?”
Unlike it’s English equivalent, which will just get you weird looks, you can’t use it with older generations. To many of them, using teelei? is a perversion if a young Greek person uses it, and a travesty if a foreigner uses it!
“Ya filos mou! Teelei?”
11. Yamas! – Cheers!
In English, “Cheers!” is one of those phrases that we probably don’t give much thought to, because it is so prevalent. In Greece, the same is true, but instead of “Cheers!” they have their own phrase: yamas.
Technically speaking, yamas is a shortened form of the stineh yamas, which literally means something like “To your health!”. In this instance, yamas is roughly translated as “Health” but is used in the sense of “Cheers!”
You would be correct in assuming that this is prevalent in bars and pubs. With that being said, it is also common at supper, with many Greek people raising their glasses, saying “Yamas!” before they begin eating.
10. Asap – ASAP
As with just about every other language, the internet has revolutionized the Greek language. Similarly to English, text speak has become quite common in Greece, with everyday phrases being shortened down for ease of use.
Due in part to American media being quite common in Greece (both in English and dubbed in Greek). Thanks to this, a slew of American slang terms have entered Greek slang.
By far the most common is asap. Unlike it’s English equivalent, the Greeks don’t spell it in all-caps, but rather, all lower case. Some Greeks also translate it literally into Greek, αμέσως (amésos).
“Póte tha ftásete sto spíti?”
9. Malaka – Dude
Malaka is a pretty strange Greek slang word. To many Greeks, it is a word they couldn’t live without. Yet in English, there is no direct translation, only rough ones, and even then, they don’t encompass the entirety of malaka’s use in Greek!
Literally speaking, malaka translates as “A**hole” and is occasionally used in this regard. Despite this, the vast majority of the time, it is used somewhat like how we’d use “Dude” or “Bro” in English.
A word of warning with this one: Do not use it with people you don’t know. Whilst uncommon, a few will take it offensively, which may cause its own set of issues, especially so as a foreigner. However, most will understand.
“Ya malaka teelei?”
8. Rehfeeleh – Dude
If you are slightly older, chances are that you won’t hear malaka as much. You will, but most people who are older than about 45 years old, will often use rehfeeleh in the place of malaka.
Literally speaking, rehfeeleh has no meaning whatsoever. It appeared about 35 years ago with Greek teenagers, and became quite popular. When the internet first appeared, it was one of the first Greek words put onto the internet!
As with malaka, rehfeeleh was quite common pretty much everywhere. In particular, it was common in school playgrounds. Today, it is more common in bars and restaurant as well as in the workplace.
“”Ya rehfeeleh! Teelei?”
7. Alani / Alania – Dude(s)
With that being said, most Greek teenagers don’t really use rehfeeleh that often. To many of them, rehfeeleh is an antiquated term – one that their parents or grandparents would use!
Instead, most Greek teenagers will use alani or alania in the same contexts that you could also use rehfeeleh! Literally, alani comes from the Greek word alana, meaning something like “Alleyway”.
Originally, it was used to describe a rebellious child. But over time, its meaning has changed, to mean something like “Dude”. Alania, on the other hand, is the plural form, translating as something like “Dudes”.
“”Ya alania! Teelei?”
6. Kamaki – Flirt(er)
Kamaki is one of the more unique Greek slang words. This is because the way you’d translate it into English technically wouldn’t be that correct – it’s a term, but it’s not used that often.
In English, we would call someone a flirt, whilst in Greek, they’d call them as kamaki. However, kamaki literally translates as a “Flirter” – a man who flirts with lots of different women, often without success.
For the most part, the female diminutive, kamakia, is rather uncommon. However, if a woman was flirting with multiple people, chances are they’d be called a kamakia!
“Échete dei ton Leonída? Eínai tóso kamiki!”
5. Éla! – Come!
In just about every language, there is some way of saying “Let’s go!” or “Come!” In French, it’s allons-y in Spanish it’s vamos and andiamo in Italian. In Greek slang, it’s éla.
Éla is one of only a few Greek words that we know hasn’t changed much. The general consensus among linguists is that éla is one of the oldest Greek words still used, likely used by the Ancient Greeks themselves!
If you are familiar with other languages spoken on the Mediterranean, such as Arabic and Hebrew, you may be familiar with yalla. Both éla and yalla have the same origins, with éla inspiring yalla.
4. Aragma – To hang out
Aragma is probably one of the funniest Greek slang words. Not for its Greek meaning or uses, but rather for it’s English translation!
If you look up aragma in a Greek dictionary, there are two main meanings. The first, means “Plow” however, this isn’t that common. The second (and more common meaning!), roughly translates as “The act of chilling”.
In English, we’d probably refer to aragma as the verb “To hang out” as this is its closest English equivalent!
If you spend anytime near the beaches of Greece in particular, you’ll hear this a lot. You’ll also hear it as a euphemism for something else…
“Aragma me fílous”
3. Ya – Hi
This one is sure to play games on your English brain! Whilst it is a shortened version of “Yes” in English, in Greek, it is a shortened down form of the word yassass, meaning both “Hello” and “Goodbye”.
Due to yassass having two meanings, which are the polar opposites of one another, ya also has this double meaning. For the most part, you’ll hear it in the “Hi” form, however, you’ll also hear it as the Greek equivalent of “Bye”.
If you ever visit Greece, and take a stroll into the middle of town, you’ll hear this quite frequently, even if you aren’t trying to listen for it. Commonly, it is used by close friends, but it can be used by and to almost anyone, even if you’ve just met them!
“Ya Panos! Teelei?”
2. Perpatiémai – Floozy
Some people just can’t keep it in their pants! For whatever reason, they have some insatiable need to sleep around with multiple people. In English, we’d probably call them a “Floozy”.
The Greeks would call them a perpatiémai. Literally, perpatiémai is the past tense of the verb “to walk”. And is used to mean something like “They walk all over people (in bed)” – eg. They sleep around too much.
I’m sure that this is fairly self-explanatory, but use this with caution. As with it’s English equivalent, whilst it isn’t a vulgar term by any means, it is seen as an offensive one. Use this one, at your own peril.
“Echeis dei tin Élena?”
“Eínai tóso perpatiémai!”
1. Halara – Relax
Halara is probably one of the most useful Greek slang words you could use. Not only is it a verb, but it’s also a noun AND an adjective! You’d be hard-pressed to find a phrase that halara couldn’t be used in!
If you look in a Greek dictionary, halara has a number of English meanings. For the most part they are to do with loosening up and relaxing, just the same as their Greek slang meaning.
Confused? Don’t be. Halara was initially a slang term, originally coined in the 19th century, but has come to the forefront in recent years. Due to how widespread it is, it was added to the Greek Dictionary a few years later!
“Ya Atticus, halara alani!”
Which are your favorite Greek slang words? Tell me in the comments!
At 20 years old, Chloe Harmon dropped out of university to travel the world. Here, she would immerse herself in the local culture, often learning their languages. She still do this today!
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Paidi mou – (Close) friend
Most languages have some from of endearment that can be used between friends.
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Here's a list of the most common ways you can say “Cheers” in Greek: Stin iyia mas! - To our health! (Commonly shortened to "Yiamas!”)
Common Greek Phrases
Hello is translated as “Yasas” which is more respectful and polite than “Yasou” which is used in a more friendly way. “Yamas” or “Yasas” is also used as a toast, meaning cheers!
- volume_up. πώς πάει;
- τι λέει;
The word is sometimes spelled "giasou" or "ya su". You can also shorten the phrase to "ya" in an informal setting. Say "Yassas" (pronounced "YAH-sas") X Research source in formal situations, or when you're informally greeting two or more people at the same time.