'Ain': Arabic word for eye is a symbol of affection, envy and desire

The word can also mean spring, which is how the city in the eastern region of the UAE got its name

The Arabic word of the week means 'eye' in English.

In Arabic, the eye is a measure of respect, allure and affection, as much as it can denote envy and disappointment.

Ain is the Arabic word for eye. To tell someone they are your eyes, enta/enti aiyooni, is a term of endearment. If you want to wish someone luck, you could say ain Allah aleik/aleiki.

Do you have a friend who’s going through an ill-starred streak? You could say he’s been struck by an envious eye or darbitak/darbitik ain al hasood.

See something you like at a store that you’re going to save up for? You could say you’ve set your eye on it or hateit aini aleih/aleiha. You could also say that about someone you’re planning on pursuing with romantic intent.

If you see something you like but can’t afford it, you could say al ain basira wel yad qasira.

If someone falls out of your eye or telea min aini, it means they’ve disappointed you or failed to meet your expectations. Conversely, if someone exceeds your expectations or does something worthy of praise, you could say they’ve become bigger in your eye or kiber/kibret bi aini.

In the blink of an eye is biramshet ain. An eye for an eye is al ain bilain. Yali bishoofni biain, bshoofo/bshoofa bi ainain is an expression that approximately translates to ‘if someone looks at me with one eye, I’ll look at them with two’, and signifies respect that is reciprocated.

Another popular expression is baeed aan alain, baeed aan elqalb, which has connotations similar to the English saying ‘out of sight, out of mind'.

Of course, ain does not only mean eye. The word can also translate to spring. That’s where the city in the eastern region of the UAE – Al Ain, also known as the Garden City – gets its name from, after the water sources in the area.

Updated: March 25, 2022, 6:02 PM