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Speak / Lesson 69

Sports (Vocabulary Sprint)

This lesson is all about the wonderful words of sports- or varzesh in Persian. Varzesh literally means physical exercise, but it's the word used for sports as well. Many of the words for different sports in the Persian language come directly from the western word, but some of them are different. The most common sport in Iran (and in many, many parts of the world) is soccer, which in Persian is footbāl. The sport we know of as 'football' in the United States is called footbāl āmrikāyee (American football) in Persian. Below are some terms for some other common sports. Listen to the full lesson in order to learn the words for many other team and individual sports.


bicycle ridingdō charkhé savāreeدو چَرخِه سَواری
horse back ridingasb savāreeاَسب سَواری
bow and arrowkamāngeereeکَمانگیری



how are you?

Note: In Persian, as in many other languages, there is a formal and an informal way of speaking. We will be covering this in more detail in later lessons. For now, however, chetor-ee is the informal way of asking someone how they are, so it should only be used with people that you are familiar with. hālé shomā chetor-é is the formal expression for ‘how are you.’

Spelling note: In written Persian, words are not capitalized. For this reason, we do not capitalize Persian words written in phonetic English in the guides.


I’m well

Pronunciation tip: kh is one of two unique sounds in the Persian language that is not used in the English language. It should be repeated daily until mastered, as it is essential to successfully speak Persian. Listen to the podcast for more information on how to make the sound.

Persian English
salām hello
chetor-ee how are you?
khoobam I’m well
merci thank you
khayli very
khayli khoobam I’m very well
khoob neestam I’m not well
man me/I
bad neestam I’m not bad
ālee great
chetor-een? how are you? (formal)
hālé shomā chetor-é? how are you? (formal)
hālet chetor-é? how are you? (informal)
khoob-ee? are you well? (informal)
mamnoonam thank you
chetor peesh meeré? how’s it going?
ché khabar? what’s the news? (what’s up?)

Leyla: Welcome to Lesson 86 of Chai and Conversation. I'm Leyla and I'm joined by my husband Chris. Salam Chris

Chris: Salam! This is Chris. I'm Leyla's husband, and I am learning Persian along with you guys.

Leyla: And today we have a very fun topic for our as you know, we're in the vocabulary sprint unit, we have a very fun topic and that is the topic of sports or varzesh

Chris: Varzesh. Who doesn't love some varzesh

Leyla: and we actually get a lot of, I've asked for recommendations for this unit and we got a lot of people asking us to say the different words for sports. So this was a long overdue lesson. One thing What I discovered when doing some research for this topic is that this topic content contains a lot of borrowed words. So as we're going through it, there are very few of these words that are Persian words. But if anyone knows of any that I'm missing, please let me know that Yeah. Are there any

Chris: sports that are specific to the Persian culture?

Leyla: I mean, I don't know. I think that like obviously the most popular sport is football. Football, which is soccer.

Chris: Right? How about like backgammon? Where was that?

Leyla: Oh, that's a good point. But that's not it's a game. It's not a sport. It is takhteh. 

Chris: takhteh

Leyla: That is a very Parisian game, or the game of chess is shatranj 

Chris: shatranj. 

Leyla: And that's been in Iran for a long time. or you can play cards and that's varagh bazee

Chris: varagh bazee

Leyla: So those are Persian words, but this is more we're talking about, you know, sports like sports sports

Chris: Running around kicking the sports ball

Leyla: Exactly. And so, first I wanted to start with team sports and that is varzeshe gooroohee

Chris: Varzesheh goroohee

Leyla: Goroohee, Gorooh is a group, Gorooh.

Chris: Gorooh.

Leyla: So gorohee, 

Chris: Gorohee 

Leyla: and varzesheh goroohee, team sports

Chris: varzesheh goroohee.

Leyla: So first of all a team in person, his team, 

Chris: team. 

Leyla: And then a player individual player is bazeekon

Chris: bazeekon

Leyla: Bazi is the word for play. So a player bazi kon,

Chris: bazi kon,

Leyla: the word for a coach is morabee

Chris: Morabee. Now what does that word sound like?

Leyla: Moraba is the word for jam. There you go. Moraba. The word for fans in a sport which is always very important is tarafdar. 

Chris: Tarafdar. 

Leyla: And that is the fan of a sport. And the what's the word for the person who referee the word for referee is davar

Chris: davar. So then what is a morabee?

Leyla: Morabee is a coach.

Chris: Oh coach- very similar to the Persian word for jam

Leyla: Unrelated but yes. And davar is the word for referee. So now let's go through the words for our sports which as I said is a lot of borrowed words, but it might be useful for you in conversation if this is something that you talk about often. The word for soccer is football, 

Chris: football, 

Leyla: as opposed to American football which is football amrikayee.

Chris: Football amreekayee

Leyla: Amrikayee

Chris: Amreekayee

Leyla: That's right. The word for basketball, basketball,

Chris: basketball.

Leyla: Sorry, but we just have to go through it. Baseball

Chris: Okay. That one is baseball. Baseball.

Leyla: Then there's volleyball.

Chris: Volleyball.

Leyla: The word for hockey is hockey roo yakh. Yeah. 

Chris: Hockey roo yakh. 

Leyla: So hockey on ice. Ice hockey. 

Chris: Hockey roo yakh. 

Leyla: Yes. Hockey roo yakh. there's water polo is also very popular. Water Polo.

Chris: All right, let me see if I just learned- vater Polo. Yes. This is like, I hope that this is a Friday. Today whenever this episode comes out, and like you've had a rough day, and you're like, Oh man, I got I love my Chai and Conversation. But today, my brain is so full, I'm going to hit it anyways and then you turn it on and we're covering sports. Sure That's awesome. And then it turns out all the sports words are already just American words with a funny accent. Bam.

Leyla: Okay, so individual sports now, varzesheh as well- varzeshhayeh tak nafaree. Varzeshhayeh tak nafaree.

Chris: Varzeshhayeh tak nafaree

Leyla: Okay, so tak nafar means just one person. So these are sports that you can do just by yourself. My favorite docharkheh savaree

Chris: docharkheh savaree

Leyla: docharkheh

Chris: docharkheh

Leyla: Docharkheh is a bike, savaree is riding. So bike riding. That's a good one person sport.

Chris: It's fun with other people too.

Leyla: That's right. There is golf. 

Chris: Golf. 

Leyla: And that is,

Chris: is it? Is it going to be golf? Yes.

Leyla: There's eskate bazee. 

Chris: Eskate bazi. 

Leyla: That's skating. Bazee is playing. So playing on skates, eskate bazi. gymnastic. 

Chris: gymnastic. 

Leyla: and that is gymnastics. Asb savari

Chris: Asb savaree

Leyla: Savaree . We've seen in docharkheh savaree, riding a bike, asb his horse. So, what is that? 

Chris: That's horse riding 

Leyla: exactly, asb savaree. Asb savaree. So something that Chris has been getting really into lately is doeedan, 

Chris: Doeedan. 

Leyla: Doeedan and that is

Chris: Oh, that's running.

Leyla: That's right doeedan. Now here's some very Iranian sports that Iranians are very big into- one is koshtee.

Chris: Koshtee 

Leyla: and koshtee  means, koshtan means to kill, koshtee is wrestling

Chris: koshtee, wrestling

Leyla: and that is very common with Iranians. There is vazneh bardaree

Chris: vasneh bardaree.

Leyla: So vazneh is weight 

Chris: vazneh

Leyla: bardaree is lifting, 

Chris: weightlifting 

Leyla: Exactly. Vasneh bardaree

Chris: Vazneh bardaree

Leyla: And that's a sport that Iran actually does really well and there's always Iranians doing vazneh bardaree in the Olympics. That and koshtee. Another individual sport that's big is bowling. 

Chris: Bowling, 

Leyla: And that is bowling. There's beelyard. 

Chris: Beelyard

Leyla: which is billiards, okay. Not a solo. Not necessarily but you could just play it by yourself right? Abd then kamangeeree 

Chris: kamangeeree

Leyla: Bow and arrow. Kamangeeree. And then I thought we'd cover the word for winning. And losing, winning his bordan

Chris: Bordan

Leyla: and losing is bakhtan. 

Chris: Bakhtan

Leyla: That's right. There was one other team sport that I forgot to mention. And that is tennis, 

Chris: tennis. Also very big among Iranians. Okay, so again to just say working out you just say exercising, and it's the same word for sport and that is varzesh. Varzesh is exercising. And again, something that Chris has been getting really into lately.

I'm super strong right now, extremely fit.

Leyla: It's true. So these are our vocabulary words for different sports and different exercises. And we'll be back next time with another group of vocabulary around the different subjects so thank you for listening- khodahafez from Leyla.  

Chris: And khodahafez from Chris, and I hope the rest of your Friday is awesome and filled with surprises like sports on Chai and Conversation.

Leyla: If it's a Friday- we'll see.