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Unique Turkish Phrases: a saying for every occasion

Turkish is a wonderful language filled with idioms that are commonly used in daily life.

What is an idiom?

It’s a phrase or an expression with a meaning of its own, that’s not immediately understandable from the words used in it

Here are a few of the ones you are likely to hear the most…

“Hoş geldiniz”

You will hear this phrase on a daily basis. It literally means “good you came” or “welcome”

“Hoş bulduk”  is the natural and appropriate reply. It literally means “good we found ourselves here” or “a welcome found”

“Afiyet Olsun”

This phrase is used before, during and after someone has had a meal. It’s literal meaning is “may you have an appetite”

“Kolay gelsin”

“May it come easy” is  used when the speaker sees someone busy with something. It can be a physical, or mental work. It indicates the speaker’s wish that whatever that person is doing at the moment, may be easy for him.

“Kendine iyi bak”

This phrase is generally used by someone who is departing and translates to “take good care of yourself.”

“Cok yaşa”

“May you live long” is said after someone sneezes. Common replies are “sen de gör” (may you see my life) or “hep beraber” (may we all have many more years to live).

“Geçmiş olsun”

Used when people are sick or experiencing an unpleasant situation, it means “I hope it passes you quickly.”


The direct translation for boşver is give empty and means let it go, never mind or forget it.

“Allah nazar korusun”

This phrase means “may God protect you from the evil eye.” Nazar is the evil eye, and some people from the eastern Mediterranean believe that if you have a good thing and someone is jealous of it, you can get nazar and subsequently lose that good thing. 

“Hayırlı olsun”

When someone opens a shop or starts a new business, others say “Hayırlı olsun” or “Let it be with goodness”. The expression indicates the speaker’s wish that the new business will bring prosperity, and it will be profitable. The reply for “Hayırlı olsun” is “Teşekkür ederim” – “Thank you.”

“İyi ki doğdun”

“It’s good that you were born” – Turkish for Happy Birthday.

“Şeytan tüyü”

“The devil’s feather”

What seems like an insult is actually a compliment used to describe someone who has a mysterious, devilish charm.

If you have enjoyed these phrases and would like to learn more please click here

And finally….

A phrase that is said to departing visitors to help take the edge off sad goodbyes.

“Güle güle gidin” – “May you go laughing.”

This article was first published on 24 May 2018 and updated on 16 January 2024.

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