Slang Word of the Day – Ma

Sooner or later in Romania you’re going to hear (or read) the word (pronounced muh as in “mug” without the g sound). What does it mean?

It’s a little confusing because “ma” is a normal pronoun referring to something that is “mine” or about “me”, for example saruta-ma means “kiss me”.

But is something different and doesn’t exist in any dictionary. If you ask a Romanian they’ll just shrug their shoulders and say, “hai mă, de unde am sa sti?” and then you’re more confused then ever.

Luckily, I’m here to explain it for you. Imagine if you will, a small town, perhaps say in rural Kentucky, the population of which is largely white (Caucasian). In this town there is a young man, perhaps aged 16-25, who likes to wear baseball caps backwards and listen to Eminem and is, in crude terms, a wigger.

Now imagine this hypothetical kid speaking and using the word “yo”. As in, “I’m at my crib, yo!” or “Check out my ride, yo!”. Got it? All those uses of the word “yo” are exactly the same as Romanian . It’s sort of a placeholder and doesn’t really mean anything.

Unlike our hypothetical wigger friend though, doesn’t imply a lack of education or wanting to be black or anything of that sort. It’s just an extra word Romanians use when speaking but doesn’t really have any real meaning. Let’s translate a conversation just so you get the idea:

Romanian English
You Omule, ce inseamna cuvantul aia “mă”? Hey bro, what does the word “mă” mean?
Friend Hai mă, de unde am sa sti cum sa-l traduc mă? Come on yo, how am I supposed to know how to translate that, yo?


8 thoughts on “Slang Word of the Day – Ma

  1. „măi” could mean pay attention orelse… as in: ” Mai, fii atent!”(Hey, pay attention!);
    „mă” could also be a friendly way to address to others as in„ Mă , baieți eu asa as face” ( Well, boys I’d do this and that….). I like the fact that Romanians discuss rules of Romanian grammar in English and nobody laughs about it as if we’ve always been accustomed with discussing such matters …. it’s the first time I actually felt the need to explain words to myself


  2. Mă is the short wai for Măi, which is like saying TU (YOU). Indeed you can’t translate it, but it has a meaning. :)


  3. As for the pronounciation, at the risk of alienating some Romanians (as has happened with my Romanian) – the best way I’ve come up of describing it is a puking sound – somewhere between “marvelous” and “municipal” :)


  4. On the topic of unofficial extra words: ask a Romanian what “no” means. Pronounce the “o” like you would say “long”. Try a short “o” and then a long one. The length of the “o” changes the meaning. Your head movement while pronouncing it also changes the meaning.
    As a bonus, find out what “ioi” means, both with a long and a short “o”. For the long “o” try ascending and lowering the pitch.


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