Eating meals

One of the most popular Ramadan customs is the evening meal that breaks the day’s fast (literally “breakfast” even though it happens in the evening), called إفطار (ifṭār), taken from the root فَطَرَ (faṭara), which has a more archaic meaning of “to break” (or “to split,” or “to cleave”) but which in modern usage usually means “to break a fast/to have breakfast.” With that in mind, and because I’m always looking for topics that are tenuously connected to something happening in the world, this post will be about eating food. I’m not going to get into words for particular kinds of foods here (maybe next time?); we’ll stick to basic things like the names of meals for now.

“to eat” = أكَلَ (akala), طَعِمَ (ṭaʿima, has a more refined meaning, like “savor” or “relish”), or تَناوَلَ (tanāwala, reflexive form of a verb that means “to give,” so “to give to oneself”)

“food” = غَذاء (ghadhāʾ), derived from a verb that means (archaic), “to have breakfast,” or طَعام (ṭaʿām, also could be translated as “nourishment,” or “repast”)

“meal” = وَجبة (wajbah), from a root وَجَبَ (wajaba) that has to do with “duty” and “necessity”

“breakfast = the aforementioned إفطار (ifṭār), or (from the same root) فُطور (fuṭūr)

“brunch” = وَجبة بَين الإفطار (wajbah bayn al-ifṭār), “meal between breakfast,” or برونش (brūnsh)

“lunch” = غَداء (ghadāʾ), not to be confused with (see above) غَذاء (“food”)

“dinner” or “supper” = عَشاء (ʿashāʾ), or طَعام العَشاء (ṭaʿām al-ʿashāʾ)

“snack” = وَجبة خَفيفة (wajbah khafīfah), “light meal,” or possibly مَزة (mazah) from Persian

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