'Sehha': the Arabic for health is a wish for physical, mental or moral well-being

Al sehha tajon ala rouoos al asehha la yarahu illa al marid — 'health is a crown on the healthy that no one sees except for the ill'

This week’s Arabic word is sehha, a nod to your health, and to right and wrong.
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This week’s Arabic word is a nod to your health, your appetite and your sense of right and wrong.

Sehha is Arabic for health. Sehhat al badan is body health. Sehat al nafsiyeh is mental health. When a person recovers from an illness, you could say istaada sahatahu or istaadat sehaataha.

The World Health Organisation, in Arabic, is called Munazzamat Al Sehha Al Aalamiyya. A country’s ministry of health is its wizarat al sehha.

Keef al sehha, or inquiring about someone’s health, is a common greeting in the Arab world. When someone coughs or sneezes, you could say sahha as a way to wish them well.

In the Levant, a common expression when offering a toast is to say “bisehatkon” or “to your health”. When a person eats with gusto, it is common to wish them good health by saying “bilsehha wal aafiya”.

If someone is going through something of a bad day, you could console them by saying almohhem al sehha, or “what’s important is health.”

The word sehha also resonates outside the corporeal.

Sehhat al aqd refers to the validity of a contract.

Sehhat al taabeer reflects on how well articulated an expression is.

Sahih, a permutation of sehha, means right or correct.

If someone rights a wrong, you could say sahaha akhtaahu or sahahet akhtaaaha. A person of principle can be said to be insan al saheeh.

Several maxims incorporate the word sehha.

Al sehha tajon ala rouoos al asehha la yarahu illa al marid – “health is a crown on the healthy that no one sees except for the ill”.

Sehhat al nafs fi qilat al kalam – “mental well-being is in reticence”.

Finally, while it doesn’t directly use the word sehha, one common health-themed expression in the Arab world is: al akl al saleem fi al jism al salim, “a sound mind is in a sound body”.

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

Updated: June 24, 2022, 6:02 PM
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