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Stalbet: An Israeli Military Slang Rooted in the Middle East

Updated: Apr 25

Challenging the Popular Hypothesis about its Origin

From procrastination to mockery, the word סתלבט has been causing a stir in the IDF for years. But where did it come from? The answer may surprise you.

The Hebrew word סתלבט is commonly used in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to describe the a person or environment in a relaxed, sometimes unkempt, state. However, the word has deep roots throughout the Middle East and has been used in various languages for centuries.

The origin of the word סתלבט has been the subject of much debate, with many theories suggesting Arabic or Aramaic roots. However, the popular theory presented by Rubik Rosenthal in the "Comprehensive Slang Dictionary" in 2005, which suggests that it is borrowed from the Arabic word "estalbat," indicating hesitation, delay, procrastination, etc, is likely incorrect.