Khairey: Pashto Curses, Insults, and Verbal Abuses in the Pashtun Culture

Again, pasting from the old blog.

“Khairey” is the Pashto equivalent of the English term “curses” or “evil wishes.” But what distinguishes khairey from the English curses is that khairey are common in the Pashtun culture and are usually called upon by close family members and people we love most, such as our mothers. Those who issue khairey are almost always women–and interestingly, especially mothers, which is witness to the fact that they are not meant to be taken seriously and are rather harmless. According to my knowledge, there is no research on the significane and use of khairey in the Pashto language and in the Pashtun culture, so I can’t provide any references yet on this phenomenon, BUT I do hope to write about it in a matter of some time so as to provide a more detailed description of what these are, why we use them, why they are so common, why mostly (if not only) women use them, and so on. I have read some literature on the exact same phenomenon in Egypt, which one can read about in an article called “Impoliteness Formulae: The Cognate Curse in Egyptian Arabic,” but these are linguistically different from the Pashto ones, since they are often formulated such that they reflect the situation in which they are being used and they rhyme. In both languages, a reference to God (Allah, Khwdey/Khuda) is made so as, I believe, to make the curse appear more forceful.


Meanwhile, however, I’d like to list some of the most common ones, or according to what some Pashtuns on Twitter hear a lot, so as to give you an idea of how they go. Please remember not to declare them “bad” or “horrible” or “ignorant”: they are more than just “curses.” I’ll eventually explain how, but for now, note how much they tell you about the culture and the society, or what the society considers good and bad, appropriate inappropriate — or, most generally, how human interaction works. Anyone interested in the use of khairey or similar abuses, insults, curses in other languages and cultures may find David Parkin’s “The Creativity of Abuse” an important read. The book Impoliteness: Using Language to Cause Offence (Studies in Interactional Sociolinguistics) by Jonathan Culpeper is also worth a read on the subject.

Now for some Pashto curses, insults, abuses! Reminder: most of these are issued by mothers to their children (quite frequently daughters). Often, the word dushman/dukhman is added at the end of the curse–so that the curse proves ineffective, but it’s sometimes whispered so that the message is still conveyed.

P.S. Guys, this list doesn’t include kanzal (curse words)! Pukhto kanzal are too vulgar for me to discuss them publicly. Any of them. But thanks for suggesting some of those, too 🙂 The following includes those from the comments, too. I look forward to adding more as others suggest them.

P.S. A lot of these are not translated by me but by others, either in their comments below or on Twitter. I have been relying non-stop on Khushal Khan (from Twitter) in particular to translate some of them.

Pashto Khairey

– Zwani marga shay, lag oora waghaga!

May you die young hurry up and kneed the dough!

Khwdey de pa tandar owaha! 
May the thunder strike you dead! 

– Khwdey de pa laaso khpo raatola ka! May you be deprived of all your limbs!

– Daa tor makh de wrak sha!
Get your ugly dark (“black”) face out of here! Or Get lost!

– Miraata she!
May you suffer the loss of all the men in your family/household!
[The term “miraat” suggests the utter loss of all of the males in a household/family, and culturally, every household is to have at least one male–for financial, security, and other purposes.]

Khwdey de jaaru ka! OR Jaaru she! 
May you be utterly annihilated!

– Khwar au zar shay!
May be destroyed beyond recognition into the abyss of oblivion!

– Miraat maray! [To females.]

Die without leaving a son.

Khuday darla da spo marg rawali
May you be devoured by dogs and cut into pieces.

– Khwday day da khaouwro laanday ka
May you die asap.

Khwday day paa spou maata/maat ka
May you be devoured by dogs and cut into pieces.

– Alaal she / Khwdey de alaal/alaala ka!
May you be butchered.

– Khaore eray raig.
[If you don’t want to give anything to someone, you offer them these things with extreme hate:] dirt, ashes, raig? [Dirt and ashes signify nothingness, the fact that everything eventually comes to an end; humans become dirt (literally, soil) when they die, and when something is burned down, it becomes ashes.]

– Rhanda kanra shee!
May you go deaf and blind! [That’s the literal meaning. But it can also mean “may you be deprived of the pleasures of .”]

– Pa oar uswazi!
May you be burned down! [literally]

– Khwdey de baikh ubasa!
May God uproot you!

– Toray khaoray de pa sar!
Black earth on your head!

– Khwdey de pa sharmuno o-sharmawa!
May God extremely embarrass/humiliate you!

– Khwdey de zaan ta hairaan ka!
May God dumbfound you with despair!

– Meeraat/meerata shay!
May you have no sons!

– Takoo darpara rashaa.
May epidemic come for you (people).

– Pa Golow suray shay.
Charmaree shay.

– Gudree Shay.
May you be riddled by bullets.

– Pa Zaan akhta shay.
May you get busy with yourself [To fall sick or fall in one’s own problems]

– Tora Shay. [Used for girls]
May your immorality/promiscuity become public.[Basically, may you be dishonored and shamed by everyone in the community!]

– Spuck Shay.
May you be disrespected [humiliated, shamed]

– Toray golay da ookhra.
May you be eaten by black bullets.

– Da zmakay khurdaan shay.
May you become fodder of the earth (i.e., die)

– Khay wrazay na pa sung ter shay or Khay wrazay makh oomaaksay.
May you never see days of happiness.
– Pa makh ta tora bala sha.
Wishing you very bad luck.

– Roagh ramashay.
May you not return safe.

– Raaghbarg ma shay / Khudai day raaghbarg ma ka.
May you not return safely.

Pa bum [bomb] suray she!
May you be hit by a bomb!

–  Qabar she!
May you die(?)

– Zama da sara sadaqa she!
May you die! [Something like: May you die as soon as possible so God can accept you as charity on my behalf!]

– Qiyamat she
May you become the Day of Judgment (?)

– Khudai de wakhla!
May you die! [May God take you from us as soon as possible!]

-Toray khaoray sha!
Become black dust!

– Taala waala shay!
May you be utterly destroyed!

– Balaa tora dar passay!
May black disaster pursue you!

– Zwanimarg shey
May you die young (or as soon as possible!)

Just being mean: mean, offensive, personal remarks in Pashto

– Mateezey!
[Refers to a female who has a lover and/or a run-away … not sure of the English term for this.]

– Lashmakey

– Dairey eeraye ma waha

– Dere qrrate ma kawa!
Shut your ugly big mouth / Stop talking too much.  [Now you see where my nickname “qrratu” comes from #sadface] [Note: this is always said cutely and in a joke. Example: my dad says it a lot to my nephew with a smile.]

Da razarho dala

– Paidageeera

– Lambardasta

– Sar de onarheyga

Khaz balol

Da jeenai pa waar paida

– Sa chingee darpake shawi!
You’ve got worms inside you. [I think there’s an English phrase for this that I don’t know. You say it particularly when someone’s … restless.]

– Shoondath!

– Dawusa! [To a male]

– Toalya saray!
Someone with tight curls

– Peesho/Peeshai
 Green-eyed (literally, cat)

– Pairyanai
Evil spirit

– Shoda!

– Beghairata dala!
Coward! [This is serious business here. A “beghairat” man is like someone who’s such a chicken that he has no honor whatsoever. (Can be very loosely compared to the English “haha, you’re a  chicken!”… no, wait, actually it can’t be …).]

– Sanda! 
Water buffalo! [metaphorically used–only for males–to signify someone’s heavy weight… or just because the insultor is angry]

– Mekhey!
Buffalo [same meaning as above, but used only for females]
– Ee naharay

– Kadoo sara!
 Pumpkin head!

– Da spoo mashra
You dog – you father of all dogs! [As you can see, we are not quite so fond of dogs… poor things]

– Kacha shwe!
haha – IN your face, stinker!!! [Said instantly to someone who tried to do something (e.g., reach someone, or ask someone for a favor but didn’t succeed) in vain]

Zaan de washarmawo! / Sharmedaley!
You just humiliated yourself! Shame on you! / Humiliated!

– Khirana, khachana, pamana
You dirty piece of shit [literally, “dirty,” someone who hasn’t taken a shower in weeks]

– Qaam shahrama

 – Chopara

– Shoparra!
Beans! [More like, your face looks like beans.]

– Jaam botal ke loye shaway ye!
What – did you grow up inside a liquor bottle or something? [Means that the person who’s being insulted is too “soft”]

– Khaoray ukhra!
Fine – eat dust, why don’t you! [Said when a child/person will reblliously refuse to eat something being offered to her/him]

More to be added with time. Readers are welcomed to join in the fun and contribute! 🙂

26 thoughts on “Khairey: Pashto Curses, Insults, and Verbal Abuses in the Pashtun Culture

  1. Love love love your blog! Please keep it up! You make me learn so much about my own culture. My mother says some of those words all the time, i never knew what it meant but now im going to fire back haha.


  2. Orbala, jaanana, gulaba…. ( being sooo kind to convice u lolxxx :p :p )
    I’m dying to find someone to help with the lyric of the Naghma’s song Yakazar 2016
    Soooo beautifull the lyric but I miss a number of parts…
    Plzzzzz can u do something to help me? Seeee my smileee han han 😀 😀 😀


  3. Hahahaha!! Someone told me to say to my husband if he makes me upset Khudai de wakhla! lolx Ok..He is always making me stressed but till now I never used this to curse him lolxxxxxxxxxxxx Finally I think that I will never use it…
    ( laughing a lot here)


  4. They are in the domains of woman. Smthing that does come to my mind from the collection of Bebe…
    Khuday khu di nimgari nim akhwa ma ka.
    Khuday de oma lwarawa.
    Khuday darbandi jaro rawala.

    All targeted at dear one’s always being followed by “Ma ka”. Guess it does have cathartic function. Yet again completely in the domain of woman and any male using them is to be termed as as “Hazonay”…


  5. Just wanted to say thanks for the great article Orbala, I’m a Punjabi Pakistani born and bred in the UK, with an appreciation for the Pashto language, and I’ve been relying on this article for a few years as a source for Pashto insults I can use with friends, haha. You wouldn’t happen to have a Facebook by any chance, would you? I’ve spent the last year or so building up a Pashto playlist, and it would be cool to get a translation for one or two of them whenever you had the time.


    • Thanks for reading, Hashim! I’m glad this has been helpful to you for your friends, hahaaaa!
      I love translating Pashto songs. You can email me at orbala1ATgmailDOTcom


  6. Orbala Could you please write an article on Panjabi ;Curses; I have my Panjabi friends they seldom abuse each other but it,s too disgusting.


  7. I need slang words that starts from e and f, actually I’m given a project of Pushto Slang Words like I’ll have to make a dictionary of pushto slang words so kindly help me in making words from e and f.


    • I haven’t looked into this topic in a long time, so I don’t know. But there is some research on it for other languages, like Egyptian Arabic. Please use Google Books and/or Google Scholar to look for materials.


  8. Hello,
    I’m working with afghan teenagers, and they keep calling a colleague “zebi” or something. They don’t explain waht it means. Do you know what it means?

    I would like to know if they are messing with her or not haha 😀

    And thank you for your work!


You're welcome to share your thoughts - but I don't accept bigotry and don't publish all comments <3

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