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Nov 15, 2011

how to say "to use the restroom"... nicely, in Hebrew

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This one's for a friend of mine, who was delighted to discover this new term in the course of his Hebrew immersion.

Excusing oneself to the restroom is liable to be an awkward proposition; hence cover-up expressions such as "I'd like to use the restroom," "I'd like to excuse myself," etc.

Hebrew's got a polite replacement for the more direct אֲנִי צָרִיךְ/צְרִיכָה לָלֶכֶת לַשֵּׁרוּתִים (ah-NEE tsah-REEKH/tseh-ree-KHAH lah-LEH-khet lah-sheh-roo-TEEM) - I (masculine and feminine, respectively) need to go to the facilities... as well as for the more vulgar but, sadly, commonplace, יֵשׁ לִי פִּיפִּי (yesh lee PEE-pee) - I have... [read the transliteration].

The replacement verb is לְהִתְפַּנּוֹת (leh-heet-pah-NOHT), which means, literally, to evacuate (use your imagination to figure out the object of evacuation) or to free oneself. The word comes from the root פ.נ.ה (p.n.h), meaning turning to a new direction

להתפנות also means to become available after having been busy. It's a reflexive-intensive verb.

Israeli Music Decoded

Today my radio show airs live at noon Israel time, only at

In honor of the inclement weather this week, I'll be featuring Shlomo Artzi's classic father-son song, אֶרֶץ חֲדָשָׁה (EH-rets khah-dah-SHAH) - A New Land. 

Why this song? tune in to find out.

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