The Yalla Lifestyle

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Lebanese salesman: “min el ekheir, 200$ 3al el kil” (from the end, my final price is 200$ for all of them).

Lebanese buyer: “tayeb yalla akhadton” (ok Yalla, I’ll take them).

The single most persuasive word in the Arabic language and very quintessentially Lebanese, used more often then saying hello is yalla.

Yalla is a common expression denoting “come on”, “let’s get going”, and mostly meaning, “hurry up” in the Arabic language. It comes from and is an abbreviation of a traditional Arabic word “Ya Allah ” literally meaning “Oh God”.

“yalla” can be used to mean “let’s …anything,” when one is showing some kind of excitement about doing something. Yalla nrouh sawa, yalla nseifer (let’s go together, let’s travel).

In its more generic form it means, “let’s go,” like “vamos“ in Spanish. You’re with a group of people who are supposed to leave to go somewhere and everyone’s dragging. “Yalla, let’s go.”

It also is used to describe oneself when giving in or being persuaded to an agreement, similar to “all right” in some cases. “ok yalla brouh ma3kon” (ok yalla I’ll go with you)

In Lebanon it probably is the word that is used and repeated the most often during the day. It can highlight utter frustration when one is stuck in traffic for example, or it can express excitement and some sort of joie de vivre, when someone is sharing a happy moment.

“Yalla, bravo, libi2lak” (yalla, bravo, it suits you), could be used when someone is telling their friend about their travel plans, or what they just bought.

Yalla is so popular that this 5-letter word has become a symbol of a certain Lebanese style of life: the yalla attitude, meaning don’t stress it will happen, sort of on the same lines as the song don’t’ worry be happy.

What makes the Lebanese yalla so endearing is the way it is used and the wording that is used with it to express anger and frustration or happiness and congratulations.

Some of the popular ones:

Yalla khalissne ba2a (yalla, finish with it for me already. Meaning move on or just finish it or leave me alone)

Yalla hizile tizak (yalla move your ass)

yalla hiziyah (yalla shake it)

Yalla 3isha (yalla live it, meaning good for you, carpe diem)

Yalla mshih (yalla walk)

Yalla ok

Yalla jeye (yalla I am coming, very popular as most Lebanese are usually late and when asked where are they, the response is usually yalla jeye or yalla wassil)

Yalla jenno wo notto (yalla go crazy and jump, very popular Lebanese song played in all the clubs… highly addictive!) 

Yalla yalla (when it is said twice, it means you are really slacking off and you need to move before I start shouting, most commonly used by moms)

Yalla zimiyah shway (yalla close your mouth a little, can be used if someone is advising another person to start dieting or to stop talking nonsense)

Yalla zahet (yalla slide, meaning just go you are really annoying)

Yalla ya mama (yalla mom, but mom here can be used to anyone and by everyone, a man can say it to another man or a woman can say it to a man, meaning just do it or move, but it really expresses an authoritative tone from the person saying it)

Yalla walle3 (yalla fire up, meaning start getting angry)

Yalla bravo 3leik (yalla good for you)

Yalla habibi (yalla my love, meaning come on move it)

The Lebanese always manage to spice and add a certain Lebanese je ne sais quoi to their expressions that highlight their general attitude to life and there is no other word that expresses that more eloquently then yalla.

So next time you get angry, frustrated, irritated, or incensed by something, breathe in and just say yalla! This too shall pass.


4 thoughts on “The Yalla Lifestyle

  1. My late father was from Mansourieh and I read all of this in his voice in my head. I have found myself using “yalla” when stuck in traffic so many times because he taught me to drive when I was a teen.


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