15:59 Jan 12, 2002
Arabic to English translations [Non-PRO]
Arabic term or phrase: ama
kids in school calling one another this. I assume it's not complimentary

Summary of answers provided
4 +2عَمى "blindness!" or "damn!"
Fuad Yahya



52 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
عَمى "blindness!" or "damn!"

You are right. It is not complimentary. The word literally means "blindness," and its basic meaning is that of a curse, meaning, "May you turn blind!"

Like most expletives, this expression is quite versatile, just like the word "damn" (or worse) in English. When used by adults, the intended meaning will depend on context. Although the expression can be used literally, in most situations it is not.

It is often used in anger, akin to "damn you!" But it is also used by way of teasing, akin to "son of a gun!" or "you dog!".

The expression is also used reflexively or impersonally. One either directs the curse to oneself or to no one in particular, akin to the generic exclamation "Damn!" that one utters in disappointment, amazement, frustration, or just to add color and zip to one's expression.

Children typically imitate the speech patterns of their elders, and, unfortunately, many parents are not careful about what they say to or in front of their chidren. The adults themselves may simply be perpetuating what they have absorbed from their own elders, and so on.


Note added at 2002-01-12 18:31:13 (GMT)

My first paragraph was poorly contructed, and may have given the wrong meaning. Here is a clarificatory restatement of that paragraph:

You are right. The word “AMA is not complimentary. It literally means \"blindness,\" and is commonly used as a curse, which literally means, \"May blindness strike!\"

Fuad Yahya
Native speaker of: Native in ArabicArabic, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 2542
Grading comment
"ama" is an Afghan word. What dialect? Not Arabic

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  hail69 (X)
9 days

agree  AhmedAMS: Agree, but "ama" could have a totally different meaning.
18 days
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Comment: "ama" is an Afghan word. What dialect? Not Arabic

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