10 Serbian Slang Words You Should Know

A wall neon sign saying BlahBlahBlah representing slang words

If you have been studying Serbian for some time but still don’t seem to understand the locals, this article is for you. You can go through all the study materials and memorize new phrases at home, but there are some words that don’t even appear in standard dictionaries. Slang words are critical for getting by in a new environment, and you can only learn them if you know the right context of when, how, and why to use them. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of ten Serbian slang words with the explanation of their origin and proper use. Knowing these will help you appreciate and be appreciated by the locals even more and make you feel as if you belong in Serbia.

The inventory of most common Serbian slang words

Even though our Serbian language courses are crucial to getting you going and speaking in Serbian, there are never enough tips and tricks when it comes to learning real-life talk: all the slang words, shortened forms, and local phrases Serbian people use in daily communication. 

Languages evolve daily. For example, Serbian people have been adopting a lot of anglicisms, especially related to technology and social media. So words like “fan”, “portal”, “lajk” made their way into the Serbian language. While these words of English origin may be easy to understand, some slang words and fixed expressions are specific to the Serbian people and have very different meanings from their literal translation. 

: Serbian locals sitting at the cafe and using some Serbian slang words while talking
Slang words are informal and funny and make you feel more connected and free when chatting with friends.

But slang words are not only difficult to understand. They also stand out in everyday conversations because Serbian people say them with lots of emotion.  So, let’s check them out!

1. Brate/Tebra

One of the most common words you’ll hear everywhere in Serbia (but especially among millennials and gen Zs in Belgrade) are the words ‘Brate’ and ‘Tebra.’

‘Brat’ is a Serbian word for brother. Using it this way means you’re addressing someone you feel comfortable with and can be informal around them. ‘Tebra’ is a word derived from ‘brate’ using the means of ‘šatrovački‘ way of speaking – a way of talking made up long ago by Serbian youngsters. Basically, it’s used by switching the syllable order but not changing the phonetics.

This word is repeated a million times in one conversation, especially among the boys. 🙂

Let’s take a phone call, for example:

Them: ‘De si brate?

You: Evo me kod kuće. (At home.)

Them: Aj’ na piće! (Let’s go for a drink.)

You: Ae. Gde?

Them: Dođi u Koffein. 

You: Važi, stižem. (Deal. On my way.)

2. 'De si?

This is actually a shorter version of ‘Gde si?’ and the literal translation of this expression is “Where are you?”. However, the term ‘De si‘ means something completely different. Serbian people use it to say hello to someone informally.

You probably heard Serbian people use expressions like ‘Ćao’ and ‘Zdravo’ to greet people. But, if you wish to sound effortless and laid back, saying “De si” is a better choice.

A typical conversation would sound something like this:

Imagine walking around the block and seeing a familiar face you want to greet. This is your chance to use this expression.

You: De si? 🙂

Them: Evo me, a ti? (literally: Here I am; metaphorically: I’m doing fine.)

You: Evo, šetam malo.

(let’s make it slightly complicated now)

Them: Šta ima? (What’s up?)

You: Nema ništa. Kod tebe? (Nothing special. What about you?)

Them: Evo idem da pikam basket. (I’m on my way to play basketball; “pikati basket” is informal way to say play basketball. A neutral way to say that would be “igrati košarku”) 

You: Važi. Vidimo se! (Ok. See you!)

Them: Vozdra! (another slang word meaning: goodbye)

3. Bre

The word ‘Bre’ is probably the most common and most used in Serbian. However, its translation varies from expression to expression.

It’s usually used to draw attention to something, emphasize a specific situation, or even add a certain amount of stress to the case. You can read all about this famous word in the article dedicated to the word BRE in Serbian.

4. Ajde/Ae

Hajde/Ajde/Ae is an imperative form that means C’mon/Let’s go/Hurry up. Shortened versions of hajde, ajde and ae, are very common Serbian slang words when people chat or text each other. 

Apart from the apparent literal meaning of Let’s go, there are other uses. For instance, if you’re texting someone and making arrangements:

Them: Hoćeš do mene posle? (Wanna come to my place later?)

You: Pa ajde. (Well, alright.)

or

Them: Hoćeš do mene posle? 

You: Hoću. U koliko? (I do. At what time?)

Them: Oko 7. Kupi neko pivo. (Around 7. Buy some beer.)

You: Ae. (Okay.)

5. Šetaj

To break the cycle just a little bit, here is one slang word with negative connotation. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean people use it in arguments.

The word ‘šetaj’ literally means ‘walk’ in the imperative form. In normal circumstances, someone can ask you:

Them: Šta radiš?

You: Šetam se. A ti?

This would mean you’re taking a walk. However, in slang, if you say ‘šetaj’ to someone, you’re telling them to go away. Or, if you hear someone say this word to you, be sure you’ve done something wrong.

To illustrate further, let’s take a look at an example conversation. This slang word is used when you want to end an argument.

Them: Nisam ja kriv, ti si me prvi gurnuo. (It’s not my fault, you pushed me first.)

You: Ali ti si mene udario u glavu. Kako je to fer? (But you hit my head. So how is this fair?)

Them: E, neću da se raspravljam. Ajde šetaj! (I don’t want to argue. Go away!)

A page from a dictionary
The knowledge of Serbian slang words goes far beyond standard dictionaries. 🙂

6. Smoriti se/Smor

If you are bored, you can say “Dosadno mi je.” Or, if something is boring, you would describe it as “dosadan/a/o”. For example:

You: Dosadno mi je. (I am bored.)

Your friend: I meni je dosadno zato što je ovaj film dosadan. (I am bored too because this film is boring.)

This is one way to talk about boredom. But when young people talk to friends they would more often use the verb “smoriti se” to say that they are bored (like with many Serbian verbs this verb too has perfective (smoriti se) and imperfective (smarati se) aspect; this is not a post about grammar so, just shortly, verbal aspects include the notion of time in the verb; imperfective verbs show repetitive or incomplete action; perfective verbs are used for completed actions). Smor is the noun we use to describe something that is boring. 

So, the same conversation as the one above, but in an informal tone, would go like this:

You: Smorio sam se. (I am bored.)

Your friend: I ja sam se smorio zato što je ovaj film smor. (I am bored too because this film is boring.)

Smoriti se and smor are not only related to boredom. Serbian people also use them to describe something that is draining/difficult/annoying. Note: when you are describing that someone is annoying you (and not that you are annoyed), then use transitive form of the verb (without the reflexive pronoun “se”):

You: Šef me neprestano smara da napravim reklamu za Instagram, a nema pojma šta tačno hoće da stavim u reklamu. (= My boss is constantly annoying me and asking me to make an ad for Instagram, but he has no idea what exactly he wants me to put in the ad.)

Your friend: Koji smor! Napravi šta ti misliš da je najbolje i valjda će te ostaviti na miru. (= What a drag! Make what you think is best and hopefully, he will leave you alone.)

7. (Is)kulirati

Everyday Serbian conversations are very likely to have one of these words: kul (cool) , kulirati (to stay cool; imperfective aspect), iskulirati (to stay cool; perfective aspect).

The word kul is basically a transcription of English cool, and we use it in its informal meaning to suggest that something is hip/ fashionable/impressive:

You: Baš ti je kul ta majica! (= You’ve got such a cool T-shirt!)

Your friend: Hvala, brate! (Thanks bro/friend!)

Like in informal English, Serbian people also use kul as a slang word to say that something is not a problem:

You: E, neću moći da dođem na žurku sutra. (= Hey, I won’t be able to come to the party tomorrow)

Your friend: Ne brini, sve je kul. Pravim još jednu žurku sledeće nedelje. (= No worries, that’s fine. I’ll throw another party next week.)

The verbs kulirati/iskulirati are also very common Serbian slang words. Serbian people use them to say that someone needs to chill and not stress. The difference between these two verbs is in the verbal aspect. The verbal aspect is a topic for a whole other blog post (we promise we will write one!), but until we have a post on this topic just remember that the longer verb (iskulirati) has a perfective aspect, and this means it marks a completed action. For example, we do not use verbs with the perfective aspect in the present tense, except with modal verbs.

Ok, enough grammar, time for some slang:

Your friend: Skontao sam da me  Sanja opet uhodi na Instagramu. (= I noticed that Sanja is stalking me on Instagram again.)

You: Iskuliraj. ionako ti je bivša. Nemaš više ništa sa njom. (= Chill out. She is your ex anyway. You have nothing to do with her anymore.)

Or, let’s see the example with kulirati:

You: Smorila sam se na poslu. Baš sam imala naporan dan. (= I got bored at work. I really had a tough day.)

Your friend: Hoćeš da odemo na splav i kuliramo uz pivce? (Wanna go to *splav (*splav is a type of floating river bar, a very popular place to hang out in Serbia), have a beer and chill?)

8. Opušteno

One more favourite among millennials! The literal translation of this phrase is “in a relaxed manner.” In slang speech though, the word means “chill out”. This is how the conversation would go:

You: Jaooo, izvini, open sam zaboravila da ti vratim knjigu. (Ooooh, sorry, I forgot to return your book again.)

A millenial friend:  Opušteno! Ionako mi ne treba. (Chill out! I don’t need it anyway.)

9. Bleja

Another word related to chilling is ‘bleja.’ Also, it’s often used as a verb – blejati (ja blejim, mi blejimo). The literal meaning of this word is ‘baaa’ – the sound sheep make. However, one of the most common Serbian slang words actually means ‘chilling.’ The locals in Serbia use it to say they’re relaxing.

After a long day of wandering around, everyone wishes for some quiet time for 'bleja.'

For example, you could receive a text from a friend saying:

Them: Brate, hoćeš do mene da blejimo večeras? (Bro, wanna come over to hang out tonight?)

Or receive a phone call:

Them: Hej, šta radiš? (Hey, what are you doing?)

You: Evo blejim sa Filipom. Ti? (I’m chilling/hanging out with Filip. You?)

10. Top/Vrh

Finally, the last slang word in our list is vrh/top. Both of them mean the top of something if translated literally. Metaphorically, we use these slang words to say something is great, amazing, phenomenal, or perfect.

For example, once you finish eating some Serbian dish at a restaurant, the waiter might ask you: How was your food? If the atmosphere is chill, cozy and friendly, you can answer by saying: Top! or Sve je bilo vrh! (Everything was great!).

The takeaway from top Serbian slang words

Now you’re all good and set to go! This was the ultimate list of Serbian slang words everyone should know to understand the locals and be understood by them. You can even get creative and combine some of them and see what happens! 🙂 Happy learning!

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