These 20 Indian Expressions Are So Unique

Last Updated on August 4, 2022

Indian Expressions

Indians are well known for their unique non-verbal gestures. Indian expressions are colourful, varied, and altogether delightful. Most have their roots in the Hindi language, which is spoken by some of the Indians and those are just verbal expressions.

You probably know that placing your palms together at the chest goes with the greeting “Namaste.” Or the famous head nod that’s almost a wobble, meaning anything from “yes” or “no” to “good” or “understood”.

According to a common Indian proverb, “Every two miles the water changes, every four miles the speech.” “Indian Expressions That Help”

With records showing that there are 122 major and 1,599 minor languages spoken in India, slang words vary not only from state to state but from city to city.

But here are some of the popular Hindi slang terms and phrases, one of India’s most widely spoken languages – that could help you with assimilation while travelling in the country.

There are over a million international students from India around the world, which means you are bound to bump into a few on your own study abroad journey.

Learning these basic Indian expressions will help you better understand your new friends; it shows them you want to get to know their language and culture.

Luckily, Indians love to share and naturally warm up to those who show a genuine interest. After all, isn’t meeting new people half the fun of the university experience?

Equipping yourself with basic knowledge of different people, you are preparing yourself for more fruitful interactions with them.

That said, here are some of the best Indian expressions to know as a student abroad:

Best Indian Expressions

1. Yaar

Not to be confused with Pyaar (love), yaar is probably one of the most popular Indian expressions you’ll hear in everyday conversation.

It’s Hindi slang for “friend”, which is useful for keeping the mood light and friendly. Use it anyway, from “Hey, yaar!” all the way to “How was your presentation, yaar?”

2. Mera Naam

Useful for introductions, this is how you say “My name is…” in Hindi. It’s a sure way to delight the Indian students and teachers you meet; tell them your name and ask for theirs. “Mera Naam Paul. Aapaka Naam kya hai?”

3. Achaa

There are many ways to express agreement in Hindi, but this word for “good” tops the list. It can also mean “I see”, “really?” or “okay”.

It can even convey joy, depending on how and when you say it. Possible uses include “Achaa, this paper is good to go” or “You got this textbook on discount? Achaa!” Alternatively, use “thik hain” to communicate agreement.

4. Mast

When something is “mast”, it is way better than just “achcha” — it’s awesome. This term can be used to describe a great meal you just had downtown or the latest Marvel movie. It is commonly used as a response when someone asks your opinion on something specific.

5. Kaise

Hindi for “how”, you’ll hear this word a lot in the quick back-and-forth of your Indian friends. There’s also “kyon,” which means “why”. Check-in with a quick “Kaise hain?” if you’d like to ask how your friend is doing.

6. Bas

This is a simple, brief way to say “that’s it” or “that’s all”. “Bas, we’re done with exams” would be a sign of cheer and relief while “Bas, I’m leaving the team” could spell bad news for your group assignment. The power of this term lies in its sharp finality.

7. Arre

It’s the Hindi “hey” and it is just as versatile. Like many other Indian terms, the meaning of this term changes depending on one’s tone.

According to Matador Network: When used in a higher tone, it expresses surprise. In a lower tone, it conveys exasperation. Said neutrally, it’s used to get attention.

8. Ji

Respecting elders and teachers are an essential part of Indian culture, as you will discover with the suffix “ji”. It is added at the end of names (Aunty Ji) or sentences (“Will that be all, ji?”), and may even be used sarcastically among friends.

9. Chalega

Literally, it means “will walk” or “will go”. Yet the application of this term is wide; you could even use it with one of the many other Indian expressions above.

For example, to reply to the question “Shall we have dinner before the group meeting?” you could say “Haan, (yes) chalega.”

It even stands by itself as a question. If someone asks you “Chalega?” it probably means they are seeking your agreement or approval about the matter being discussed. They’re essentially asking “Will this work?”

10. Baap re Baap!

Think of this as the Hindi equivalent to “Oh my God” — suitably relaying surprise or disbelief. It literally translates to “Oh father, father!”. “Baap re Baap! How could we miss this deadline?” is something we hope you never have to say or hear.

11. Jhakaas

Another Marathi word that found its way into everyday lingo is jhakaas. Here’s a major hint of what it means. In the Hindi-dubbed version of The Mask (1994), the character’s catchphrase “smokin’!” was replaced by jhakaas. If you still haven’t got it, it means “fantastic”.

12. Fattu

All of us have that one friend who’s a little bit of a wimp, especially when it comes to breaking the rules every once in a while. That person right there is a fattu for you.

13. Bindaas

We also have that one friend who’s the coolest one in the group, who’s unbelievably chilled out at all times and always fun to be around.

That person rightfully earns the bindaas title. But the term is also used to describe anything that’s great. For instance, “Breaking Bad is a bindaas TV show.”

14. Jugaad

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word jugaad as “a flexible approach to problem-solving that uses limited resources in an innovative way”.

In India, jugaad is a way of life. Indians can get out of any tricky situation and have solutions to problems of every nature, all thanks to jugaad.

15. Ghanta

While the literal translation of ghanta is “bell”, it has become a common slang term in India. It expresses disbelief and is close compared to the phrase “yeah, right!”

It can also be used when calling out someone’s lies. So, when used in that context, ghanta can also mean “nonsense” or “rubbish”.

16. Oye

Oye is comparable to “hey”. But among close pals, oye is interchangeable with your friends’ names. So, if someone calls you oye instead of your name, you know there’s a close bond between the two of you.

It is also a word used to grab the attention of someone who is younger than you. “Indian Expressions That Help”

17. Vella

Vella is a word mostly used in Delhi and parts of North India. It indicates a person who is lazy or useless at most things. A close equivalent in English would be the word “loser”.

18. Pataka

An attractive girl is referred to as a pataka, a word whose literal translation is fireworks. Some women consider the word as being somewhat offensive.

But it’s fine to use it in jest or among close friends who know you’re complimenting the person rather than catcalling.

19. Pakau

Pakau is a slang term used to refer to a very annoying person. In some contexts, it is also used to define a person who can be extremely boring.

20. Deun kya?

This phrase literally translates to “shall I give?” and is a threat to beat someone up. So, in its extended form, it could be “shall I give you a sound thrashing?” While it sounds like an intimidating phrase, it is also used among friends for amicable banter. “Indian Expressions That Help”

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