Following on from our first article on unique Turkish phrases and idioms, here are more phrases that Turks use in daily life that you may not find properly explained in your Turkish phrase book.
If you missed our first article, you can read it here.
You’ll hear the word buyrun everywhere you go in Turkey, in shops, restaurants and markets in particular. There is no direct English equivalent. Instead, buyrun acts as an all-purpose word to prompt you. It means welcome, please come in, sit down, there you are, how can I help you or would you like anything else, depending on the context in which it is used.
You will no doubt hear hadi almost as often as buyrun in Turkey. It means Come on! or Go on!
Literally translates to God willing and can be used as a way to wish someone well after you hear someone’s future plans, or if you are not sure that something is going to happen but hope it will.
The literal meaning of Maşallah is “what God has willed”, in the sense of “what God has willed has happened.” It is used when something good has happened in the past.
Means health to your hand and is said to someone who has created something beautiful with their hands, particularly to a cook to congratulate him/her on a good meal.
Literally means will you look at me and is used to attract someone’s attention. You will often hear it being used in restaurants to call the waiter.
You will certainly have the occasion to say Allah Allah at some point during your stay. It means “oh boy”, “wow”, “oh my goodness”, “well, I never”, “good Lord”, and the currently fashionable, “really?” You will hear this phrase at least once a day in Turkey.
You will hear this phrase a lot from the men that sit around drinking çay. It’s a very casual and emphatic way of saying thank you. If you are grateful for something and in an informal setting, you can say this while putting your right hand over your heart.
“I hope you’re not affected by nazar”
Said to someone when you don’t want them to be affected by bad energy (nazar). The saying is accompanied by biting your tongue and knocking on wood.
“Bir Taşla Iki Kuş Vurmak”
“To hit two birds with one stone.”
This idiom is a variation of the popular English idiom “to kill two birds with one stone”. Use it to describe when you accomplish multiple ends through one action!
There are lots of ways to say goodbye in Turkish. This one means, word for word, means stay well.
This article was first published on 31 May 2018 and updated on 17 January 2024.