Malakas (μαλάκας) is a Greek slang word. Malakas is is an exceptionally versatile word. The meaning varies depending on the tone and context used. It is an exclamation of pleasure, an expression of dark horror, a cry of anger, a paean of affection, and other different things besides its literal equivalent, which in British English is wanker. Common alternative meanings include asshole or jerk, and the contrasting dude, or mate, depending on the context. It derives from the Greek word malakos (μαλακός), which means "soft" or "spoilt, well-used to luxuries of life". It is one of the most frequent words picked up by tourists and travellers to Greece and is not unusual amongst the younger Greek diaspora, even when the level of Greek is low. A female form of the word exists, malako (μαλάκω), but is a recent coinage.
In everyday speech, the word malakas is used metaphorically to mean a person who uses no common sense. In addition, in parts of the world outside Greece, with significant Greek population (e.g. the United States), the word malakas appears well known among non-Greek people.
It is considered inappropriate to use against strangers, while it is acceptable among close friends, typically among males, resembling the meaning of "dude" or "mate". There are significant parallels between the word malakas and the word 'nigga' used by some African Americans between each other giving them a sense of friendship or brotherhood. Additionally, females may use the word even in an affectionate way.
Certain scholars examine the usage of the word malakas in modern Greek through an alternative scientific point of view; through constructivism (social and historical constructivism), and sociolinguistics, they study the effect of any and all aspects of society on the way language is used, and they focus on the interactions between language and society. James D. Fabion characterizes the term malakas as one of the most favorite, blithe and sexually malignant "curses" used among friends. He asserts that malakas, just like other Greek sobriquets (e.g. keratas "cuckold", poustis "faggot"), highlight failures of social or intellectual finesse; "the malakas is clumsy, gawkish, parhaps vaguely infantile. He is liable to utter malakies [...] He is liable to be guillible. The malakismenos and the keratas are, if not immortal, still without existential fiber. They are without wit, and not uncommonly the dupes of others more witty or cunning." According to Fabion's sociolinguistic analysis, the malakas, the malakismenos, and the keratas as literal and as figurative characters, are all a rather shameful company, and they both fall short of the performative sine qua non of fully manly prowess: the exercise of sexual sovereignty, the sexual overpowering of another. Nevertheless, Fabion argues that the malakas is, at least, less pitiable being still a man. On the other hand, malakismenos is characterized as "unmistakably feminized", as the "patient of another's maneuvring". (Malakismenos is a passive participle, "someone jerked off"; significantly, one of the two feminine coinages uses the same participle.)
The use of malakia to mean "masturbation" traces back to medieval Greek. It is used in this sense in the Life of Saint Andrew the Fool and in the Life of Saint Niphon, both of which date to the tenth century.
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- L. Rydén, The Life of St. Andrew the Fool (Uppsala, 1995), II. 329.