Oosh: making everything cuter in Hebrew

Bites | 1 min read
Noa Lara Meir, Citizen Cafè teacher
Noa Lara Meir, Citizen Cafè teacher

Have you ever heard an Israeli start off a conversation with hi-oosh היוּש?

I suppose it’s a bit strange-sounding at first since it’s basically an English word combined with a sweet and playful Hebrew suffix.

The ending וּש (oosh) is of Yiddish and Slavic origin, and is used in Hebrew to express affection. It’s usually added to a first name – for exp. Gal becomes גלוּש Galoosh, and Ben becomes בּנוּש Benoosh.

It works for family members too! Mom אמא (ee-mah) becomes אימוּש (ee-moosh), dad אבא (ah-bah) becomes אבּוּש (ah-boosh) and of course, our beloved grandpa סבא (sah-bah) and grandma סבתא (sahv-tah) which turn into סבּוּש וסבתוּש (sah-boosh veh sahv-toosh)!

Nicknames with the oosh suffix have been popular for quite some time. In recent years, however, the suffix has expanded its range of uses and started appearing on random nouns, adjectives, and other words. You might be surprised to learn that a bat-mitzva is often being referred to as a bat-mitzvoosh בּת מצווּש!

סבּבּוּש (sah-bah-boosh) is a good choice when you want to say “cool” with a little extra flair. However, this sweet marshmallow-vibe suffix also transforms words with a more negative meaning, making them much more bearable: bummer בּאסה (bah-sah) turns into בּאסוּש (bah-soosh) and yuck איכס (eechs) into איכסוּש (eechs-oosh).

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