In Hebrew, 'Sorry' Isn’t the Hardest Word

There are plenty of ways to say 'I am sorry' and 'Excuse me' in Hebrew; how often Israelis use them is a whole different issue altogether. 'Streetwise Hebrew' investigates.

'Slichot' prayer service during the Days of Repentance preceding Yom Kippur at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.
'Slichot' prayer service during the Days of Repentance preceding Yom Kippur at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City. Credit: Eyal Warshavsky / BauBau

So we Israelis are not the most polite people on earth, but from time to time even we say “I'm sorry” and “Excuse me.” How do you say it in Hebrew? And what can you answer back? And how is it all connected to Korean? Listen and find out.

Here are some words and phrases we mention. For the meaning, you’ll have to listen to the podcast:

סְלִיחָה, סְלִיחוֹת Slicha, slichot
סְלִיחָה עַל \שֶ Slicha al/she
מַה-זֶה סְלִיחָה ma ze slicha
מָמָש סְלִיחָה mamash slicha
סְלִיחָה שֶאֲנִי חַי slicha she’ani chai
סְלִיחָה שֶׁאֲנִי נוֹשֵם slicha she’ani noshem
הָלַכְתִּי לְבַקֵּש סְלִיחָה halachti levakesh slicha
מִצְטָעֵר עַל mitzta’er al

What can you answer?
שְטוּיוֹת Shtuyot
לֹא קָרָה כְּלוּם Lo kara klum
זֶה בְּסֶדֶר ze beseder
סָלַחְתִּי salachti

Pe’er Tasi – Slicha
Ariel Zilber – Betty Bam
Gazoz – Rony
Liran Aviv – Tagidi

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