Mesopotamian Arabic is one of the most unique dialects in the Middle East; it has the ability to leave many non-Iraqi's confused. 

The diverse dialects spoken across the country borrow vocabulary and sounds from ancient languages such as Persian, Turkish, Aramaic, and Akkadian. 

Here's a basic guideline to understanding one of the most ancient languages. It'll surely spare a visitor some embarrassing moments. 

1. Khashooga

The classic word 'خاشوكة' leaves non-Iraqis at a dining table confused. 

Pronounced, 'khashooga', it translates to ‘spoon’ in Arabic.

2. Bayon bagh

This word is definitely a stretch from the formal Arabic word for 'necktie,' which is 'رباط.' 

For example: ‘3ndi 7afla bachir lazim ashtiri bayon bagh,’ (I have a party tomorrow, I need to buy a necktie.)

3. Nmaz beyzi

Some say 'nmaz beyzi' has Turkish roots, as do some other terms in the Iraqi dialect. 

'Nmaz beyzi' refers to the Islamic outfit women wear during prayer.

4. Shako mako


Most people’s knowledge of Iraqi usually stops here. 

‘Shako mako’ is a mixture of three words put together to translate to ‘what’s up?’ 

Let’s break it down: 

Sheno = 'what'

Ako = 'there'

Mako = 'not there' 

Therefore, 'shako mako' equals ‘what’s there and what’s not?’ Similar to the common Arabic expression, ‘shoofi mafi?’

5. Churpaya


There are many ways to say 'bed' in the Iraqi dialect, such as 'فراش,' but ‘churpaya’ is definitely the most amusing. 

‘Hathal churpaya shged muree7, agdar anam 3lai 100 sana,’ which translates to: 'This bed is so comfortable, I can sleep on it for 100 years.' 

6. Damaghsiz

If you are being driven around by an Iraqi, you are guaranteed to hear this phrase as the driver proudly insults others on the road. This saying is also a mixture of two different words.

Damagh = 'brain'

Siz = 'without'

This description is clear and straightforward - as the perfect insult should be.

‘Hatha shlon damaghsiz ma y3ruf shlon ysooq,’ (meaning: This guy is brainless; he doesn’t know how to drive). 

7. Faysrangi


Although the word ‘faysrangi,’ which means 'purple,' is not commonly used among Iraqis, it is still a unique addition to the list.

8. Reggi

If it’s a hot summer day and you’re craving something juicy to snack on, a slice of ‘reggi’ (watermelon) would be your best option. 

9. Bibi

Iraqi kids don’t call their grandmother’s ‘teta.’ Instead, they call them ‘bibi,’ which often leaves many confused.

10. Choqlumba

This word is not just used to describe an acrobatic movement, 'choqlumba' can also denote slight exaggeration.

For example: ‘Shged 3ali hathal cha3b, r7 tog3een w tsoween choqlumba!’ 

Translation: 'These high heels are so high, you are going to fall and do a foreword roll!'