Maltese Phrases You Just Can't Translate

Well, you can... but you'll sound crazy.


Knowing many languages can be extremely useful. You can smile sweetly at your cashier at Tesco, and answer her question about whether you'd like cashback with “kexx oħtok, my friend”. Also, when Pedro calls you an “hijo de puta”, you know he’s not complimenting you or your parent. 

Another advantage is that we can speak a language which has its own nuances that are virtually meaningless when translated into any other tongue. Here are a few examples:


1. “M’hawnx min ibul ma saqajk!”

Literal translation: “There is nobody to urinate against your legs.”

What it means: “You are unparalleled in the field of whatever we are discussing”

Example of use: “Sewwejtlek l-Escort, Fred.” (“I’ve fixed your Escort, Fred.)

“King int, m’hawnx min ibul ma saqajk!” (“You’re a king. There is nobody to urinate against your legs.”


2. “Ħoll xagħrek u ġib iż-żejt!

 Literal translation: “Unravel your hair and bring the oil.”

What it means: “Brace yourself!”

Example of use: “Iż-żikk, ma fflaxxjajtx il-loki wara li ħrajt!” (“Oh damn, I didn’t flush the toilet after shitting!”)

Jaqbillek tmur tifflaxxja, għax malajr tinduna l-mama, imbagħad ħoll xagħrek u ġib iż-żejt!” (“You’d better go and flush, otherwise mum will find out, then unravel your hair and bring the oil!”)


3. “Issa ħrat il-baqra!

Literal translation: “Now the cow has shat.”

What it means: “It’s too late to undo what has been done.”

Example of use: “Mort ma Darlene il-bieraħ u tqattali l-kondor! Issa x’se nagħmel?!” (“I slept with Darlene yesterday and the condom tore! What shall I do?!”
“Ħeqq sieħbi, issa ħrat il-baqra.” (“Well, my friend, now the cow has shat.”)


4. “Ħrajt barra l-vaż.

Literal translation: “You shat outside the toilet bowl.”

What it means: “You messed up.”

Example of use: “Għabbejt waħda sħuna l-bieraħ, imbagħad indunajt li kienet oħt il-mara!” (“I pulled a hot chick yesterday, then I noticed she was my wife’s sister!”)
“Ħrajt barra l-vaż, kuġin.” (“You shat outside the toilet bowl, cousin.”)

Toilet Gif

5. “Libbislu ċoff u daħħlu wejter!

Literal translation: “Tie a bow on him and employ him as a waiter.”

What it means: “The object/human you are speaking about is useless.”

Example of use: “Xtrajt turnavit Phillips u ndunajt li l-vit kien mid-dritti!” (“I bought a Phillips screwdriver, then noticed that the screw was a straight type!”

Ħeqq, libbislu ċoff u daħħlu wejter mela.” (“Well then, tie a bow on it and employ it as a waiter.”)


6. “Għamillu ġonġol!” 

Literal translation: “Put a bell on him.” 

What it means: “Your enthusiasm for whatever you’re speaking about is not shared by the rest of us.”

Example of use: “Daħħalt verdun ġdid, tgħidx kemm jgħanni, semmejtu Dean Martin!” (“I’ve recently acquired a new greenfinch, you’d be amazed at the beauty of his singing. I’ve named him Dean Martin!”) 

“Għamillu ġonġol.” (“Put a bell on him.”)

Bell Gif

7. “Mela żobb, Sur Kappillan!” 

Literal translation: “Therefore penis, Mr Parish Priest!” 

What it means: “You bet!” 

Example of use: “Trid triple cheeseburger flok double?” (“Would you like a triple cheeseburger rather than a double?”

”Mela żobb, Sur Kappillan!” (“Therefore penis, Mr Parish Priest!”)

Shocked Priest

What's your favourite Maltese phrase that has no translation? Tell us in the comments on Facebook and tag a friend who needs to learn these!

READ NEXT: 5 Kelmiet Li Jidhru Ħamalli Imma Mhumiex

Written By

Max Dingli

Max is bald and grumpy. He is in training to become the world's first Wikipedia warrior.