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كلمة: RAS / رأس
“Ras” is a synonym for “self.” It refers to the human being in their entirety, so in Arabic, the head is the locus of everything that makes the self what it is. The body, in this metaphor, is inconsequential. Ras + possessive suffix = reflexive action.
“B rasu” means “by onself” or “alone.” Similarly, “mn rasu l-rasu” means “on one’s own.” However, it also implies that the person should have accepted aid. Mn rasni l-rasni. I did it on my own… but I should have asked someone for help.
The word “rais,” meaning president, comes from “ras” too. People also use “ras” to mean the beginning or end of something. The extremities. It’s the source of the river and the peak of the mountain. The start of a story and the top of a page.
A common thing we say when we say goodbye is “thalla f rask,” which means “take care of yourself.” Because it literally means “take care of your head,” there’s a joke that we hear a lot in which someone replies to “thalla f rask” with “b shampwan” (with shampoo)!
Other ways to use “ras”
baraka f rask = blessings on your head = blessings on you (what we say in times of grief and loss)
diHa f rask = mind your head = mind your own business
Ras al Hanut = the head of the shop = the name of the mystery mixture of spices found at almost any shop or spice vendor
3mel b rasu / dir b rasu = to do in the head = to play or act, faking it
dyal rasu = of the head = independent, free, to do what one wishes
fiq m3a l-rasu = woken up/gotten up with the head = sharp, astute, observant, discerning, shrewd
rasu xfif = light head = to be intelligent, quick-witted
rasu tqil = slow/heavy head = to be dense, slow-witted
rfed r-ras m3a = to give a hard time to / to be prejudiced against
3la r-ras u l-3in = on the head and the eye = you’re more than welcome, gladly/with pleasure
ras l-3am = head of the year = New Year’s Day.
And these are a couple that I’m not sure of the literal meanings for, but I know the common-use meanings:
Hdi rask = Be careful
Tlq rask = Hurry up
This isn’t a complete list, of course. Do you know any more? Add your “ras” phrases in the comments below. And thalla f raskum. 🙂