Support this site with a membership: For only $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year, you can have a true AD-FREE experience. You also get a 15% discount in my shop and a monthly premium newsletter. Find out more here.


Passion doesn't need money. Unfortunately, my web provider does. Your contribution ensures that this site will grow and grow.

Buy Me A Coffee

Get your dose of Arabic

Subscribe to my FREE newsletter and get 10% off in my store!

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: February 20, 2022

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

How is it possible to have a كَسْرة before an Aleph? 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 dots, 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 Semitic languages, e.g., מֵאָה (“me-a”) in Hebrew. The Hebrew word is related to the Phoenician and Aramaic 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:

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
N. Schist
N. Schist
February 3, 2019 23:25

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
February 3, 2019 06:20

Excellent article.

Previous Article
Hanada Taha Thomure

20 questions for: Dr. Hanada Taha Thomure (#4)

Next Article
Omar Safa

20 questions for: Omar Safa (#5)

Related Posts