Tag Archives: Hebrew

Hadj

Standard

Hadj

noun: variant of Hajj, Hajji

Hm. Okay, then:

Hajj \ˈhaj\

noun: the pilgrimage to Mecca prescribed as a religious duty for Muslims

I’ve been playing a lot of Words with Friends and Bananagrams lately, and let me tell you, when I get to play this word, I celebrate just a bit. Even if played without any bonuses, this word will grab you a cool 16 points in any Scrabble-type game.

But I digress.

I must say, one of my favorite things about the English language–though, admittedly, it is also one of the things that makes it so difficult for others to learn–is the many far-flung origins of its vocabulary. Erin, a good high school friend of mine, once described English as “a language that lurks in back alleyways, mugging other languages and rummaging through their pockets for spare vocabulary.” I quite agree–and see it as the best possible way for a language to function. How else would we end up with such a marvelous and Scrabble-friendly word as hadj?

So, how to use this word? Well, to copy a friend’s reply on a questionable Words with Friends play:

I just played the word “hadj.”

More seriously, though, I see no reason not to use this word as a synonym for pilgrimage. Maybe try using it like this:

Alison’s epic hadj ended at last, her need for ice cream finally satiated by the local Baskin Robbins.

Or:

I felt as if I had completed a hadj or something when I finally returned from abroad. I felt exhausted, of course, but also confirmed in my new path.

Or, of course, there’s the traditional sense of the word, which would look like this:

Tyler made his hadj last year, and was delayed on the way back–I was almost worried he wouldn’t make it back in time for the wedding!

However you use it, hadj‘s origins are both obvious and obtuse–it comes directly from the Arabic, but information on its date of origin in English is either unknown or unreported. And, apparently, this nifty word hasn’t only left its mark on English and Arabic–it’s also related to the Hebrew words haghagh (he made a pilgrimage) and hagh (gathering).

So apparently English isn’t the only language with sticky fingers–or, perhaps, a penchant for Scrabble.