This post is also available in Greek
When I was young the word “malakas” was forbidden for me. As a girl I was not allowed to use the word nor was it “decent”. I had to use other expressions instead of this one.
With the time passing and as I was growing up, the time to get my first job came… yes, it was that moment that this word started to take on many and different meanings. It was my time to use the magical word that expresses all Greeks in their speech. A word that is a “legacy” and without me wanting to, it always betrays my nationality when I use it outside of my country’s borders.
“Malakas” doesn't mean asshole in English as many think, the literal translation, is wanker.
Malakas (Greek: μαλάκας) is a Greek slang word, whose literal equivalent in British English is wanker, but the usage of the term varies. Common alternative meanings include asshole or jerk, and the contrasting dude, or mate, depending on the context
It can be used with different meanings, like cursing or,
I hope your computer dies, malaka
you can even hear it from a friend that is happy to see you,
hey malaka, whats up?
It doesn’t neccessarily mean something bad always…! If you listen in to a Greek conversation, then, “malakas” will pop up accompanied with the interjection of the word “re” sooner or later. Ages 15 to 30 use it in almost every sentence.
- Where are you re malaka? - Here re malaka - You are a malakas re!
But what is really hidden behind such a word, so loved, that a nation uses it more than any other word?
As Greeks, I have to admit that we are very crummy people. We have endured a lot of “Malakia” , (Malakia, literally meaning both masturbation and semen, is often also used in a similar sense as malakas to describe nonsense, an item considered worthless, or a mistake.) by many people that wanted a piece of us, and here we are today… now, when history is repeated. What word can you use for your self, for letting all these thing happen, for getting your future denied and staying behind, for those that packed everything and left and can’t get back to their “paradise”.
For these people and for a lot of other reasons as well, the word “malakas” has taken the role of therapy, expressing your anger, expressing friendship or familiarity, expressing hope and connecting with people like you, that are now scattered in all the corners of the world for reasons that you find hard to believe some times.
The say that the word Filotimo (sense of honor) has no exact translation (like gezellig for the Dutch). Well, the word malakas has a thousand and one different meanings, some filled with love and friendship and others with bile and malice.
Do not be afraid to use it though, if you want to tease a Greek friend. After all, its one of the first words you will learn if you ever have the chance to vacation in Greece and mingle with the locals. Greek hospitality and the Greek heart are open for love, even if the words are not the typical ones you use, but instead a slap on the back and a “curse word”.
If at any time someone calls you malaka, you can reply with a humor:
Ise ke fenese (Expresion meaning “You re, i can see that”)