Word of the Day / Dapar Efes - Not the Most Lethal Weapon in the Arsenal

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Israel’s military-drenched culture has invented words for all sorts of things: food, utensils, clothing, etc.; it even has its own slang word for an idiot: “dapar efes.”

The acronym “dapar” in Hebrew actually stands for “dirug psychotechni rishoni” (initial psychotechnical ranking), which is the fancy name for a test given to all IDF recruits to measure their analytical capabilities (i.e., whether they are bright bulbs or not). Think: the SAT for soldiers.

The dapar test is graded in deciles, from 10 percent to 90 percent. Soldiers who score in the higher percentiles are much more likely to qualify for select positions in the army’s intelligence units, air force, or other elite divisions. Those who score low, unfortunately, face the possibility of spending three years as a mess hall cook or driving around an irritable general.

The insult “dapar efes” (“efes” means “zero” in Hebrew) refers, therefore, to the lowest score of the low -- which doesn’t actually exist. No matter, the insult still gets its message across. Oh, and you don’t need to be a soldier to gibe your friend who just goofed up by calling him a “dapar efes,” just a mean friend.

Shoshana Kordova is on leave. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.

New recruits to the Israeli army: They'll soon find out who's smart and who's not.Credit: Nir Kafri

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