'Tabiaa': Arabic word for nature can frame landscapes and portraits

The word encompasses all life in the natural world but can also hint at a person’s character

The National's Arabic word of the week is tabiaa, which translates to nature.
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Tabiaa is an Arabic word for nature and what it signifies can be lush, humbling, capable of instilling awe as well as terror. It encompasses life in the natural world but can also hint at a person’s character. A form of the word is even used in the publishing world.

Al ard (the earth), al samaa (the sky), al jibal (the mountains), al nabatat (plants), al zuhoor (flowers), al bahr (the sea) and al sahra (the desert) are all components of tabiaa.

The philosophical study of nature and the physical universe is known as falsafat el tabiaa.

The natural sciences, meanwhile, are known as ouloum tabiiyye.

Natural gas is gaz tabeei. Hawaa tabeei is fresh air. A law of nature is kanoon el tabiaa. For the paranormal, you could say khawareq altabiaa or ma waraa altabiaa, which consequently is the name of the Netflix series based on the bestselling series of novels by the late Egyptian writer Ahmed Khaled Tawfik.

A person’s tabae is their nature or disposition. You could describe someone’s tabae as sayyea (bad), jayyed (good), asabi (irritable) or hadea (calm).

It’s worth noting that the word can also mean printing or publishing. Tabae masari is printing money. Tabae kutub is printing books. Huqooq eltabae are copyrights. Matbaa is a publishing house.

Circling back to tabiaa, the word can also be used to signify the typical.

Hai tabiaat el hal can be used similarly to the phrase ‘the way things are’.

Finally, a saying or two: Iza kan tareeq afdal min akhar, fataakad inahu tareeq el tabiaa — “if one road is better than the other, be sure that is the path of nature.”

And then there's hub el tabiaa mithl al musiqa aw el fan, hia lugha mushtaraka yumkin an tatajawaz hudood el siasiye wal ijtimaiye — “Love of nature is a universal language. Like music and art, it traverses beyond political and social borders.”

Scroll through the gallery below to see The National's pick of Arabic words of the week

Updated: June 24, 2022, 11:11 AM
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