Oasis Magazine Articles

Talk Like An Egyptian: Baksheesh

By Jehan Ashry

Please give me baksheesh!

You will hear this phrase from kids around you in the pyramids or at the markets, and it means “please give me a tip!” 

The word baksheesh was used in the Uthman’s time.   During this time the Turkish used to take care of the ‘souq’ market street and in doing so used to charge people a little money to enter. They called that money baksheesh.  Later when the British came to Egypt they used tips extensively with their staff and others performing services for them.  The term “baksheesh” stuck.

Baksheesh plays big role in here in Egypt.  If you are new to the country you might get overwhelmed by the amount of the people who are expecting you to tip them.  It’s always a good idea to have some extra coins ready for when you might need them.  Have a small plate of coins near your front door to tip the Bawaab, laundry boy and food delivery boy.  If you drive you’ll also want to keep some change in your car to use to tip the parking attendants. 

I am not tourist, I live here - Ana mesh sayeh, ana saken hena  
How much is that? - bekaam da?
That’s a lot - da ketter awi 
I don’t want thank you - ana mesh 3ayiz shokran  
I want a better one - ana 3ayiz wahid ahsan 
How can I go to…  - ezzay  aruuh le…
Where is the …? -  Feyn il …..?
I am sorry - ana asef 
Don’t worry - ma3lesh 
Please -  law samaht 
No problem - mafeesh moshkila 
It doesn’t work -  da mesh shagaal  
Turn on the meter - shaghal il 3adad 
I don’t have money - ma3eesh feluss  
I have no change - mafeesh faka
Awesome – meya meya 
I need help – ana 3ayiz mosa3da 
Shame on you - 3eeb 3aleek 
I don’t understand - ana mesh fahma 
I love or like - baheb  

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