You’ve got the Power:  extiAr dArid - اختیار دارید

Posted by Rezwan Razani on Oct 11, 2013 at 06:40 PM

ِYou’ve got the power!  As well as free will.  And choice.  Take your pick.

“extiAr dArid” is my favorite Persian t’Arof, right up there with “step on my eyeballs” and “I am your sacrifice.”

Ex tee what?

extiAr.  We use “x” for that guttural sound, like the ch in Rachmaninoff.  A lot of people use kh for that sound (to distinguish it from the ch in cheese?  OMG, save me from English spelling).  But why not use x?  We’re not using it for anything else.  It’s available, and it does the work of two letters.

There are other ways to transliterate this phrase using various English spelling rules:  ekhtiaar, ekhtyar, ekhtyaar. You’re free to use whichever you want.  We’ve chosen extiAr.  And we’re sticking with it.  We like to be efficient, consistent and streamlined in our transliteration. Check out our #textingfArsi campaign.

OK, still not getting the sound?  Vine to the rescue.  Take a listen:  (Ahem.  Can’t hear?  extiAr dArid: you might need to click off the mute button.  Top left corner of the clip.) 

What does it mean, and why is it the coolest Persian pleasantry (t’Arof - تعارف ) ever?


extiAr dArid is multi-purpose useful. You use it any time you don’t know what to say.

  • If someone says “come visit us more often” you say “extiAr dArid”.
  • If they say “what a wonderful hostess you are” you say “extiAr dArid”.
  • If they say “you are so adorable my soul is aflame!” You say, “extiAr dArid”.
  • If they say “I am the sacrifice for your liver” you say “extiAr dArid”.

dArid, of course, means “you have”. So, clearly, this phrase means “you have extiAr.”

I was never sure what this extiAr was that I was telling people they had. I just used it since it seemed to fulfill its polite function. And because I could.  Meta extiAr.


Talk about using a chainsaw to cut butter! Look up extiAr. It means: authority, power, option, free will, choice, control, discretion, mandate and so forth. Who knew you could get one word to mean so many cool, empowering things!?

Thus, in the context of t’Arof above, every time someone offers you something, and your answer is “you have the power/choice/etc.” what you are doing is reminding them that their offer of whatever it is is an exercise of their free will. What a thrilling thing to regularly remind someone of.


It turns out the Iranian community has been on to a key mechanism of persuasion for some time now.  In “Four Words that Double Persuasion”, Roger Dooley explains the persuasive possibilities behind extiAr. 

Want to double your success in persuading people to do as you ask? Four simple words, and even other phrases with the same meaning, have been shown to double the success rate in dozens of studies worldwide.

What are these magic words? Here’s a clue: they aren’t, “But you have to!” or, “You absolutely must, really!” In fact, it turns out that reminding people they have the freedom to choose makes them much more likely to be persuaded. This technique is known as But You Are Free (BYAF). After making the request, one simply adds, “but you are free to choose.”

extiAr and criticism - اختیار و ایراد

This phrase is also a great way to deliver criticism. 

Say someone is giving you a ride home. They are driving. They come to an intersection. They are about to turn left. But you, in fact, live to the right. Do you say:

“You fool! You’re going the wrong way! I live to the right!”

No. You say:

“extiAr dArid, but I live to the right.”

Do you see the profound difference, so subtly expressed? The shift in attitude, the opening up of possibilities? What you are really telling the driver here is:

You have the power! You have the free will to drive however you want, in whatever direction you want. You have the authority to turn left, drive around the city a few times, get to my house via isfahAn, run over that lady and her baby. Or don’t drive me home at all! Let’s drive from here into the Grand Canyon! The choice is yours. Although, for the record, I live that way - two blocks. If this information is of any use to you, I humbly offer it.

Then the driver, who does, in fact, have the power to do a number of surprising things in that particular moment, can take that very moment to exercise his free will, to consider if he does, in fact, want to drive around the city, or if he wouldn’t rather just turn right, given this information you have so thoughtfully and humbly supplied.

Existential Meditation

That’s what I’m talking about. This simple phrase is a powerful reminder that in fact, human beings are WILD!

We are untamed things who come together by consensus and agreement to live a civil life. In fact, we all have a lot of power we don’t even recognize on a daily basis. While certain traffic rules exist and there may be some optimal ways to achieve certain goals, (some would crudely phrase this as “the RIGHT way to do something”), in fact, a person technically has the power to do quite a lot of things in any given moment.

Do you feel the power of this moment? YOU HAVE THE POWER! RIGHT NOW! TO DO A LOT OF THINGS.

There may, of course, be tragic consequences to doing many of the things that you have the power to do, but that doesn’t negate the fact that you do, in fact, have the power. So…extiAr dArid,

The takeaway is:  just preface or follow everything you say with “extiAr dArid,” and it should all be an empowering experience.

You know, there are Californians who pay large sums of money to attend New Age seminars to learn the simple truth that life is all about Choice and how to be present to the possibilities. And here, Iranans have been saying this to each other routinely, for millennia, to the point that we’ve forgotten what it means. Truly progressive t’Arof.

You've got the power

Comments chat

comments powered by Disqus


zabAn Persian English Word Magnets t’Arof Words

Read Persian Today!

Subscribe to play with language and ideas!

Powered by ConvertKit

اندک اندک جمع مستان میرسند