There’s no doubt that the Hungarian language is incredibly hard to learn, but these few words are probably the most important to master while in Budapest. Not only that, trying to speak a few words to a local in Hungarian might help get a better answer out of them, or a smile at the very least. We’ve provided a not-very-technical pronunciation guide and some information on exactly how to use your new Hungarian words. Have fun and good luck!
What it means: Basically it means ‘hi!’ but it can also mean goodbye. Double it up for a friendly ‘szia-szia’ when you’re leaving friends.
What it means: Literally ‘how are you?’ Make sure you ask this only if you really want to know how the other person is as this question is likely to elicit a long, detailed explanation of everything happening in their life – good or bad.
What it means: Basically this means ‘what’s news?’ It generally gets a much simpler response than ‘hogy vagy?’ A typical response is ‘minden ok,’ which means ‘everything’s ok.’ If your Hungarian lessons are progressing well you can even just ask ‘mizu?’ (pronounced: me-zoo), which is slang for ‘mi újság?’ If you’re using ‘mizu?’ then ten gold stars for you!
What it means: ‘Kiss me, beneath the milky twilight, Lead me out on the moonlit floor.’ Well actually it just means ‘kiss me’ and if things are progressing well during your stay in Budapest this could be one of the best phrases you learn. But beware: if you’ve just met the person, this phrase could either get you kissed or punched in the face.
What it means: ‘You’re pretty.’ You would normally say this to a girl. Spread the love! If you see a pretty girl, let her know.
What it means: ‘You’re good looking.’ You would normally say this to a boy. He’ll be very flattered.
Hol vannak a lányok?
What it means: ‘Where are the girls?’ Don’t worry! There are plenty of people out and about, especially in the heart of District VII, particularly on Kazinczy and Király streets.
Mennyi az idő?
What it means: ‘What time is it?’
What it means: ‘Where am I?’ Maybe it’s time to ask for directions or to consult your map.
Kérek egy sört / bort / pálinkát.
What it means: ‘I’d like a beer / wine / pálinka.’ And that brings us to what is possibly THE most important word in the Hungarian language: pálinka. This is a Hungarian fruit brandy that comes in flavours like plum, honey, cherry, apricot etc. It’s a potent spirit that you’ll either love or hate, but no matter what you must try it at least once while in Budapest.
What it means: ‘I’m hungry!!!!’ Well you won’t be for long! Budapest is full of great culinary options and traditional Hungarian food is hearty to say the least.
What it means: ‘Cheers!’ Make sure you clink glasses and say this before taking the first sip of your alcoholic beverage. And make sure you look the person in the eye! It’s considered rude not to in Hungary.
What it means: ‘Bon appetit!’ Waiters often say this when placing meals on the table, and if you’re eating a meal with a Hungarian they’ll definitely say this before starting to eat.
What it means: ‘I’m full!’ You’ll probably say this more than once, while you’re in Budapest especially because what we call street-food snacks like lángos will literally keep you full for the whole day. Also if you’re trying things like Hungarian gulyás soup there’s no way you’ll be left hungry.
What it means: ‘It was yummy!’ You can say this to the waiter when he asks how your dish was, or just say ‘finom!’ while eating as an exclamation of delight – ‘yum!’
What it means: ‘Where do I live?’ Let’s hope you never have to ask this. But if you do, it’s probably a sign of a good night. We’d be so proud of you if you forgot where you lived but remembered all your Hungarian words.
Merre van a Szimpla?
What it means: ‘Which way is Szimpla?’ If you haven’t yet heard, Szimpla is Budapest’s first and most famous ruin pub. It’s a favourite of tourists and Erasmus students.
What it means: ‘I love you!’
Nem kérek csipőst és hagymát.
What it means: This phrase means: ‘I don’t want chilli or onions.’ If you can say this while ordering a gyros at midnight after a few shots of pálinka well good on you, sir! Whether you’re a boy or a girl you’ll definitely be asked if you want chilli and onions on your gyros. Most people will say no to both in the hope of getting to say ‘csókolj meg!’ to someone later in the evening.
Találkozzunk egy kávéra.
What it means: ‘Let’s meet for a coffee.’
What it means: ‘How much is it?’
Van egy cigid?
What it means: ‘Do you have a cigarette?’ This implies that you don’t have one and would like to scrounge one.