Surely everyone remembers their early school days when their teacher would give a class about body parts and follow it up with exercises to identify them. Well, since most people start to learn Arabic by memorizing various words to enhance their vocabulary as much as possible, we decided that that day is here again, only in Arabic with an article dedicated to body parts in Arabic. More than likely, you‘ll also hear them in your daily conversations, either as idioms, metaphors or even in random conversations.
Eyes In Arabic / Ain / عين
Like many other cultures, the idea of the “evil eye” also exists in Arab societies, with envy and hatred often considered probable causes. As a result, many people believe the evil eye can cause physical impairment, sterility, childbirth problems, deficient breast milk, domestic problems, accidents, illnesses and unemployment. Arabs often protect themselves by wearing a blue bead (kharze zarka) to ward off its evil spells.
Ear In Arabic / Othon /اذن
An open hand at the ear level is equal to as-salamu ʿalaykum, a greeting in Arabic that means “Peace be upon you.” or “Hello.” The greeting is a religious salutation among Muslims when greeting each other, though it is also used by Arabic speakers of other religions, including Arab Christians. It usually accompanies the verbal greeting or replaces it if the person is a bit too far away to hear the greeting.
Teeth In Arabic / Asnan /أسنان
Teeth don’t carry a special meaning in day to day life, but it is said that if you dream about teeth, it indicates the family and relatives of the dreamer. Thus, according to this school of thought, each tooth has a specific meaning, but broadly put, the upper teeth represent the men and the lower ones the women.
Mouth In Arabic / Fam /فم
In the Arab world, holding your hand horizontal in your mouth while biting it means you are extremely frustrated; however, it can look a bit comical to both Arabs and non-Arabs alike.
Nose In Arabic / Anf /أنف
Touching noses together three times when greeting someone is a Bedouin gesture of friendship and respect.
Hand In Arabic / Yad /يد
Hands are really important in etiquette. When being served a beverage, accept with the right hand only! The same applies when offering or passing food to others.
Leg In Arabic / Qadam /قدم
Related to etiquette, be careful with your legs but especially your feet! Showing the soles of your feet (or shoes) while sitting is considered rude and symbolic of “you being beneath my feet”. Instead, to be polite, sit with your soles facing toward or on the ground.
Hair In Arabic / Sh’ar /شعر
Arab women truly focus on their hair’s health. Contrary to popular belief, not all women in the Middle East cover their hair. and even if they do, they still make sure it looks full and shiny underneath their hijabs.
Face In Arabic / Wajh /وجه
As mentioned above, it’s not only the hair that gets covered. In very conservative Arab societies, the face and body are altogether covered, since the face is supposed to be only for the family to be seen.
Head In Arabic / Ra’s / رأس
You might see Arabs using their head in their body language. A quick snap of the head upwards with an accompanying click of the tongue means “No.”
Cheeks In Arabic / Khdood /خدود
If you visit an Arab country, your cheeks might be your most touched body part. Close friends or colleagues hug and kiss both cheeks upon greeting. Sometimes, people tend to be confused when passing greetings because they are unaware of how many kisses should be given.
When visiting an Arabic country, it helps to know the customs, traditions and language. So please check out the rest of our articles on basic Arab words and phrases.