Malakas (Greek: μαλάκας [ma.ˈla.kas]) is a Greek slang word, with a variety of different meanings. The meaning varies depending on the tone and context used. It can be 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.
Malakas 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 (often in its vocative case form, i.e. μαλάκα malaka [ma.ˈla.ka]) 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, whereas malakismeni (μαλακισμένη) seems to be rather more vintage.
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 populations (e.g. the United States), the word malakas appears well known among non-Greek people. It is considered inappropriate to be used 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, also females may use the word 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, perhaps 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 maneuvering". (Malakismenos is a passive participle, "someone jerked off"; significantly, one of the two feminine coinages uses the same participle.)
Malakia, literally meaning masturbation, is often also used in a similar sense as malakas to describe nonsense, an item considered worthless, or a mistake. 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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- "MALAKAS.ORG - Where stupidity meets lack of common sense". www.malakas.org. Retrieved 2015-07-26.
- Tegopoulos, Fytrakis (1997). Μείζον Ελληνικό Λεξικό ("Mízon ellinikó lexikó"). Ekdoseis Armonia A.E. p. 676. ISBN 960-7598-04-0.
- Λεξικό τής Κοινής Νεοελληνικής, Ίδρυμα Μ. Τριανταφυλλίδη; G. Babiniotis, Λεξικό της Νεας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας.
- "The Malakas Times.org - Dare to be stupid". Humorous site. Retrieved 2006-11-30.
- Karamitsiou, Areti. "University of Essex - Department of Language & Linguistics". Sociolinguisteessex x. Retrieved 2006-11-30.
- Cf. the lemma "μαλάκω" and references for "μαλακισμένη" on slang.gr. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
- Faubion, James D. (1993). Modern Greek Lessons: A Primer in Historical Constructivism. Princeton University Press. p. 223. ISBN 0-691-00050-6.
- L. Rydén, The Life of St. Andrew the Fool. Uppsala, 1995, II. 329.