Arabic moments

Published 2022-01-14

Sometimes things happen fast. Today, we will talk about Arabic words that express short periods of time.

The blink of an eye

The most common Arabic word for a short time period, that I know about, is laHZa, that means moment.


The blink of an eye is a short time period. The word laHZa is related to the eye. Examples of words that share the same root as laHZa are laHZ that means glance and mulaaHaZa that means observation.

We will look at two sentences to see how laHZa can be used in Arabic.

Wait a moment, please!1
I arrived in the last moment.

Another Arabic word for a short time period is lamH.

glance, instant

The word lamH is also related to the eye. Words that share same root as lamH are for example lamHa that means glance and the verb lamaHa that means to glance.

Google wants to translate the Arabic expression fii lamHi l-baSari to in no time. But I prefer the more literal translation in the blink of an eye.

in the blink of an eye
He stole the necklace in the blink of an eye.

More short time periods

Here are three more words that denote short time periods. They can be seen as synonyms for LaHZa and lamH, although they probably have slightly different nuances of meaning.

The Arabic word wahla means moment. Something interesting with wahla is that related words, ie words with same root as wahla, is related to fright.

For a while, I thought that you hated me.6

The Arabic word burha means moment. I can not see that burha has any roots or related words. It can be a loanword from, for example, Persian.

He was silent for a while.

The Arabic word hunayha means moment. I can not see that hunayha has any roots either. And it does not fit among the common Arabic word patterns.

I stopped talking for a short moment to gather my thoughts.

It may be that a hunayha is the shortest of the moments we went through. It may also be that the word is quite rare and old-fashioned. When I used it once, the person I was talking to was impressed that I knew it.


Now we will look at an adverb that is related to short time periods. The Arabic word faj'atan means suddenly.

Suddenly I heard a scream.

I want to point out that the term adverb is something we use in English grammar. In Arabic grammar we instead talk about Zarf which is words for time and place.

Pass by quickly

Speaking about short time periods, I want to mention the Arabic verb khaTara. It is used when someone or something (such as a thought) passes by quickly.

to cross one's mind, occur
She had an idea.
She passed in front of me, swaying, and her hair flying in the air.