Persian sayings that make no sense in English

Salam, khosh amadid

For about 6 months now, i have been learning farsi, on and off , the off being attributed to the fact that maybe sometimes i can be abit lazy.

Farsi or persian is a language of the persians but also spoken in Afghanistan and there is also Dari but spoken in Afghanistan again, so persian or farsi is the language of the persians. I spent atleast 6 months in Iran, 3 months being the longest i lived in Iran continously, and because i was always couchsurfing, i was able to pick up the language, but this affected my writing, which means i can speak but reading and writing is at 1%

Persian in my humble opinion is a dramatic language, but i feel persians are not really dramatic people, that attribute they left to the Georgians (another post for another time). However, it is in the things they say that they reveal to be emotional

And so, i bring you persian sayings, which if we were to translate to English, they would absolutely make no sense


1. Probably my most favourite saying ‘Jeegareto bokhoram’, which mildly translates to ”i will eat your liver”. This is an endearing statement in the Persian language, and means something along the lines of ‘I love you’ or ‘I’ll do anything for you.’ You can say it to a lover, friend, or family member, but only to people you have strong feelings toward. It’s a way of expressing some intense love. Advise, say it with care unless you are prepared to marinate and tenderise that liver first before eating it

2. moosh bokhoradet. While literally meaning ‘A Mouse Should Eat You’ in the Persian language, this phrase means ‘You are cute’. You’ll hear adults saying this to kids all the time (especially while pinching their cheeks). moosh bokhoré torō! is another way to say it. It’s also used when someone says something adorable- but beware, sometimes it could be used in a slightly demeaning way, or to belittle someone.

3, Zahre mar – meaning ”the poison of a snake”, the phrase means ”shut up!”. This usually came in handy from the sexual innuendo directed at me . Just as shut up is not a nice thing to say in English, zahré mār can be quite insulting in the Persian language as well, unless it’s used in a context to mean ‘get out of here!’.

4. jeegare man ee – you are my liver. what is with persians and livers? Similar to ‘I want to eat your liver,’ one of the most loving terms of endearment you can direct to someone is to tell them you that they are your liver. While this may not sound romantic in English, it has quite an effect in the Persian language. Tell someone ‘jeegaré man-ee’, and they will be yours forever [could explain why me and that persian guy didn’t work out, i was not his liver], eeish

5. Hava -to- daram – (daram is to have, so this means i have your weather) and not in the Rhianna way of you can go under my umbrella business. Although literally meaning I have your weather or air, this statement is the Persian equivalent of the English ‘I have your back.’ So in other words, ‘I’m there for you buddy!’

6. ba namak (with salt). This literally translates to salty, it has the opposite meaning of what you might think. When you call someone bā namak, you are saying that they are funny, interesting or charming. Conversely, bee namak refers to a humorless, dry person.

7. This next one usually had me cracking up, but a few weeks in Iran and i was using it with my friends, but always as  a tongue in cheek statement. Ghorbanet beram (may i be sacrificed for you), seriously, may i be sacrificed for you my liver? a friend told me it also can mean something like ”i will die for you” which i guess is the same as being sacrificed. This is an extreme saying but used frequently in Persia. at times when people are hanging up the phone after a conversation, they usually close with ‘ghorbanet”. While the term is used simply as a term of affection, its a better example of the extreme example of tarof

More on tarof:

8. on a lighter note, the next phrase is saram kola gozashtan which translates to ”they put a hat on my head”, meaning ”they tricked me”

Either someone else can put a hat on your head, or you can do it to someone else- saret kolā gozashtam (I tricked you). This phrase i personally have not come across.

9. jat khali – ye ”your place is empty” – huh?

This is a very common Iranian saying, and it means ‘You were missed’. Anytime you speak of an event that was very enjoyable, but the person you are talking to was not present, you are obligated to tell them that they were missed in the situation. This way, they know you were thinking of them, and that it would have been better if they’d been there. Another way of saying this is jāt sabzé, which literally means ‘your place is green’, or there is green grass growing where you should have been. This means the same exact thing as jāt khāli-yé.

10. khak bar sar am – ”dirt on my head”

This phrase  is in the not-so-nice category ,it is another way of saying ‘I should die’, and it’s hard to translate the phrase into English without using some not-so-good English words. But basically, it’s used when you’ve made a mistake or realized something terribly wrong has happened. You can also flip it around and say khāk bar sar-et, meaning dirt on your head, but remember this is very insulting, and basically means something along the lines of ‘You should die!’

11. zameen khordam ”i ate the ground” ooppss.

Although it doesn’t literally mean ‘I ate the ground’, khordan can be used either to mean ‘to hit’ OR ‘to eat’. This phrase is used to signify ‘I fell to the ground’ or ‘I fell down’.

12. another favourite of mine that i almost forgot, dastet shoma danakhone.. translates to your hand not to hurt, but really means Thank you. So if for example you are thanking someone for making a lovely meal, this can be appropriate, i hope your hand did not hurt when making all this meal

13. damet garm ”may your breath be warm” or ”your breath is warm”  so many you live long! – i think i like this one

14. khaste nabashi – ”dont be tired”


15. deltangam (my heart is tight) , to say you miss someone in farsi you say deram tang shode

This is a rather poetic expression which literally means ‘My heart is tight’- the true meaning of deltangam, however, is ‘I am longing’. So this phrase is used when you are feeling quite nostalgic or when you miss something or someone. So you can be deltang for your former lover, or for the country that you grew up in but haven’t seen in a long, long time.

16. na baba – no father, This is very commonly heard in the Persian language- when someone asks a question, and you emphatically want to say that the answer is no, you say ‘Na bābā!’. This literally means ‘No father!’, but it’s just a way of emphasizing that the answer is indeed NO. I however heard people using it as if to say ‘no way’, like ‘nah man”

17. Saramoō bordee literally means you took away my head, but this phrase goes to signify ‘you talked my head off’.

18. Doret begardam is a sweet phrase that means ‘let me do circles around you’, and is used to mean something along the lines of ‘I love you so much, I admire you, and I would do anything for you.’ It is especially used when parents are talking to children.

P.S..I am not Persian and my pronounciations of some of these might not be spot on



5 comments on “Persian sayings that make no sense in English

  1. This is such a great topic to write about! I’ve also been learning Farsi on and off for the last couple of years and spent several months in Iran, and am familiar with most of these phrases, especially dast-e tun dard nakone which seems to be in every other sentence when you’re travelling! There were also some new ones to me, so thank you for that 🙂

    If you do find the impetus to learn reading/writing in Persian script, I found it really enhanced my learning and understanding no end – not least being able to read signs and documents (if not so much people’s awful handwriting!)…

    Khoshbakht bashi! 🙂


    • Yes, i saw on your blog that you had been to IRAN and i was wondering if you were there when i was too
      I plan to return next year and cross over into Afghanistan too for a month or so, so the pressure is on to learn more than the ‘strange phrases’ haha

      Ghorbane was by far my most over used phrases


  2. This post popped up in the profile blurb that shows that you are following Permacycle! So interesting! I think the sayings with “liver” in them are soo funny. Talk about a culture who enjoys nose to tail dining! How exactly did you find yourself in Persia? *begins to read through your blog* hahah 😀 -Jazz


  3. interesting read! i found it while searching for an equivalent of tounge-in-cheek in farsi. any thoughts on that?

    since you seem fascinated by our liver obsession, here is some more:

    jegari hasti: you are such a liver! which means you are a piece!

    jegar gooshe: sweetheart (this is the kind of liver you are to your mom and not your lover/boyfriend)

    dandoon roo jegaret bezar: put your teeth on your liver! be patient (be patient so a tough situation goes away, closer to bite the bullet I think).

    khoone jegar khordam: I ate my liver’s blood which simply means I suffered a lot.

    jegaram barat kababe: my liver is grilled for you, I feel sorry for you. (you are in so much pain/trouble I don’t know what to do for you other than grilling my own liver for dinner!)


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