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Habibi is probably one of the most common words in Arabic. There’s hardly any Arab who doesn’t say habibi on a daily basis. The word has become so popular that it’s even heard beyond the Arabic world. But what does habibi actually mean and when to use it? Let me tell you all about this famous word.
What Does Habibi Mean?
The meaning of habibi (حبيبي) is darling, dear, my love or sweetheart.
To understand the meaning and use, let’s have a look at the literal meaning of the word. Habibi deviates from the word habib (lovely). The suffix -i is added at the end of the word. The latest is used as a personal pronoun in Arabic, in this case, the English “my”.
Learn how to say habibi in Arabic by clicking on the audio file below:
When to Use Habibi?
In many Arabic countries, you’ll hear the word habibi (حبيبي) in all kinds of situations in daily life. Does that mean that we love everyone? Well, not really. The word habibi is part of our culture. It can be said to family and friends, but surprisingly even to a stranger you’ve had a small conversation with on your way to the grocery shop. You can even say it to the cashier after buying your groceries.
While it can be considered odd or even offensive in some cultures to say sweet words to someone you don’t know well, it’s totally fine in the Arabic culture to do so. However, keep in mind the gender of the person you’re addressing! While there are (almost) no faux pas between friends and family members when it comes to saying habibi, please be aware that it’s only respectul between two strangers when they are of the same gender.
In other words, it’s safe to say habibi to a person of the opposite gender when talking to a family member (husband, son, uncle…) or a good friend.
Habibi vs. Habibti
Unlike English, many Arabic expressions have a grammatical difference depending on the person you’re addressing. The same applies here. Habibi is the masculine expression to say my darling in Arabic. Although widely understood, you wouldn’t say habibi to a female.
The feminine equivalent of habibi is habibti (حبيبتي). The difference between habibi and habibti is the t added between the b and the i.
Besides a slight difference in pronunciation, the meaning of habibti is the same as for habibi. Literally translated, the meaning of habibi (حبيبي) is “my lovely”. The English equivalent would be darling, dear, my love or sweetheart.
Useful Arabic Expressions with Habibi
Like I said, the word habibi is probably one of the most used words in the Arabic language. The average Arab uses it multiple times a day, whether he or she is talking to their family, friends or even to a stranger.
What’s more, habibi seems almost inseparable from certain words. Who would just say “yalla” when you can say “yalla habibi”?
Enough linguistics. Once you have understood the meaning of habibi and habibti, let’s make sure you’ll be able to use it correctly. Below are some useful Arabic words which you’ll often hear in combination with the famous habibi (or habibti when talking to a female, of course).
- Yalla habibi
- Ya habibi
- Yeslamou habibi
We’ve got two famous Arabic words in one expression here. Yalla (also spelled yallah) is another word that the typical Arab would use countless times on a daily basis. Simply put, we use yalla to motivate people to do something. Depending on the context, it translates to “let’s” or “come on”.
You can use yalla habibi to ask a friend or family member to come along with you or to do something. Yalla habibi (come on), yalla habibi (let’s go), yalla habibi (let’s grab some food).
The ya is a so-called vocative particle, commonly used to address a person. While grammatically speaking, you could simply address a person by saying habibi or their first name, the particle ya just adds a little politeness. Depending on the situation, the closest English equivalent would be “oh” or “hey”.
You can use ya habibi (يا حبيبي) to express affection, gratitude or surprise. Ya habibi (calling), ya habibi (you’ve done a great job), ya habibi (I’m feeling flattered).
In terms of culture and language, there’s a big difference between Arabic and languages like English in so many ways. One major difference is when it comes to thanking someone. There are many ways of saying thank you in Arabic. Yeslamou is one of them. It’s commonly used in Levantine Arabic (Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine…) to convey good wishes when you’re really grateful. It makes only sense to add the beautiful word habibi when you’d like to express gratitude to a good friend or family member, doesn’t it?
Next time your Arabic friend or partner does you a favour, try saying yeslamou habibi يسلموا حبيبي , meaning thanks my love.
Habibi in Daily Life
There are many other words that you can combine with habibi. In most situations, adding habibi just adds a little friendliness to what you’re saying; it doesn’t necessarily have a romantic meaning.
- Mabrook habibi (congratulations)
- Shukran habibi (thank you)
- Weenak habibi? (where are you?)
- Kefak habibi? (how are you?)
- Wallah habibi (when you swear to god)
Similar Words to Habibi
Habibi is undoubtly one of the most common and most used words between lovers, family and friends (and sometimes even strangers). However, there are many more Arabic words to express love. Below is a selection of similar words.
Hayati (حیاتي) translates as my life. This expression is frequently used among lovers. Hayati can be said to a man or a women.
Omri (عمري) has a similar meaning like hayati. It also means my life and can be said to both men and women. If you’re new to learning Arabic, you might find the letter ‘ain at the beginning of omri a bit tricky to pronunce.
In Arabic, we use a lot of beautiful words for our loved ones. The creativity is almost endless here. It’s quite common to use the names of body parts as a sweet word. Number one are the eyes. A great synonym to habibi is a’ene (عيني) which literally translates as my eye. This expression is used in both the singular form as well as in the plural form: ayooni (عيوني), meaning my eyes. Whether you use a’ene or ayooni is completely up to you (none of them is stronger than the other).
By the way, you can extent this beautiful word even further. Noor a’ene means “light of my eyes” and is one of the most beautiful words you can say to a loved one. Yes, this word is more meaningful than habibi.
Another popular word to express love in Arabic is albi (قلبي). It also fally under the category body parts. It literally means “my heart” (a beautiful word for your significant other). Please note that the pronunciation varies from country to country. If you can read Arabic, you might have noticed that the first letter of قلبي is a q. In many parts across the Levantine region (Jordan, Lebanon etc), the q is often ommitted in the spoken language. In countries like Egypt, the q is pronunced as g.
Thus, what’s qalbi in the written and literal Arabic, is albi (Jordan) or galbi (Egypt) in the spoken language. Whatever pronunciation you choose, this famous word is understood across the Middle East and the Maghreb.
By the way: you can perfectly combine all those words into one sentence when you feel very emotional. Ya habibi, ya albi, enta albi wa omri.
Expressions at a Glance
Below is a summary of the expressions used in this article and their English equivalent. The Latin script can help you with the correct pronunciation if you can’t read Arabic. Learning the Arabic alphabet will greatly help you with the correct pronunciation of Arabic words.
|English Equivalent||Arabic (Latin Script)||Arabic (Arabic Script)|
|Darling, dear, my love, sweetheart (to a man)||habibi||حبيبي|
|Darling, dear, my love, sweetheart (to a woman)||habibti||حبيبتي|
|Come on / let’s (…)||yalla habibi||يالله حبيبي|
|Oh darling (affection, gratitude, surprise)||ya habibi||يا حبيبي|
|Thanks my love||yeslamou habibi||يسلموا حبيبي|