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cropped hundred

How do you spell a hundred in Arabic?

The Arabic word hundred is written مِائَة‎ – but pronounced like مِئَة (me’a). Why is that?

Last updated: 1 year ago

The Arabic word hundred is written مِائَة‎ – but pronounced like مِئَة.

How is it possible to have a كَسْرة before an ? This is actu­ally impossible in Arabic. Well, let's see…

Ideas behind the different spellings of hundred in Arabic

There are several ideas to justify the strange spell­ing of مِاْئَة.

  • Some scholars date it back to the first writers of the Qur'an. The Aleph ا was probably meant to indicate the vowel of the second syllable but, for whatever reason, it was placed before – and not after – the ئ.
  • Others say it was used to differentiate between the words hun­dred (مِئَة), cate­gory (فِئَة) and from himمِنْه). Arabic was writ­ten without vowel signs and , thus the words مِئَة and مِنْه would have looked exactly the same!

How is it in other Semitic languages?

The word is found in other , e.g., מֵאָה (“me-a”) in Hebrew. The Hebrew word is related to the Phoenician and word.

The He­brew letter Aleph (א) is sometimes re­lated to the Hamza in Ara­bic which may explain the spelling of the Arabic word مِئَة.

caption: pixabay (tookapic)

What is the correct pronunciation of me'a?

Whatever the reason is, the Aleph in the word مِائَة is nothing but extra (مُجَرَّد زِيادة). Therefore, don't pro­nounce the word as if it was written with a long vowel “aa” which would result in مَائَة (“maa'a”). This is wrong.

The vowels are pronounced short and with “i”, i.e., مِئَة. In many Arabic dialects, the ­word مِيّة is used.

Strange forms

مِائَة usually serves as the first part of a إِضافة. A followi­ng word therefore has to be in the genitive case (singular). In its writ­ten form, the nu­merals from 3 to 9 are often united with مِائَة into one word.

For example: 300 years (ثَلاثُمِائةِ سَنَةٍ)

However, the very correct view is that you should separate them.

Arabic grammar can be so excited:

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N. Schist
N. Schist
5 years ago

Neat! I’ve been wondering why the word is written like this ever since I came across it in my entry Arabic classes.

Abdul Rahman Adnan
Abdul Rahman Adnan
5 years ago

Excellent article.

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