'Hayat': Arabic word for life touches on eternity, death and accomplishment

An all-purpose term with all manner of meanings

Hayat can also be used as a term of endearment as hayati.
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Hayat: it’s a word you can solemnly swear by, weave sweet nothings with, speak of eternity, mortality and purpose or celebrate an accomplishment.

The Arabic word for life, as you’ll find, is brimming with it.

In religion, hayat al dounia is life on this world, in contrast to hayat al akhira or hayat al abadiyya, which refers to the afterlife or eternal life.

Mustawa al Hayat is standard of living. Hayat asriyya is modern life. Hayat ijtimaiyya is social life. Hayat aailiyya is family life. Hayat il aamma is public life.

Hayat tasharrod is a life of homelessness. Hayat al khashina is a hard knock life.

Awda bihayat refers to a killing. Ala qaid al hayat is someone still alive. Al hayat ghaliya is a term that means life is precious.

Bayn al hayat wal mowt can be said of someone hanging on by a thread. Masaalat hayat aw mowt, meanwhile, is a matter of life and death.

Aadat ilayhi/ilayha al hayat can describe someone who’s been revitalised and has a new taste for life.

Sharik/Sharikat al hayat is a life partner.

Hayat can also be used as a term of endearment as hayati.

It can also be used to make a promise or vow. Wahyat Allah is swearing by God the veracity of your statement.

Wahyati is weighing your life as a measure of your honesty. Wahyat ouladi does the same but with your children’s lives. Wahyat ummi or wahyat bayyi does the same for your mother’s or father’s.

Really, you can put anyone’s life on the line, and it’ll ring just as potently.

Speaking of parents and children, Lebanese poet Gibran Khalil Gibran has a famous line that uses the word hayat, while doling out some precious parental advice.

Awladukum laysou lakum awladakum abnaa al hayat almushtaqa ila nafsiha, which translates to, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.”

Abdel Halim Hafiz also has a popular song that makes use of hayat. Wahyat Albi (By My Heart) is recognised by most students who attended an Arabic school in the region as the song was commonly blasted during graduation ceremonies and is recognised as an anthem of celebration.

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

Updated: September 02, 2022, 6:02 PM
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