عید فطر ۱۴۳۶

عيد مبارك و سعید

As I do every year, I’ll link to the first Eid-e Fetr post on this blog, which has more information about the holiday for those who are interested.


رمضان ۱۴۳۶

Sundown tonight will be the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan for some people around the world (moon observations make it hard to pinpoint these things exactly), so if you’re interested please enjoy my past writing on the topic.

Persian Word a Day

There’s much more about the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins this evening for most Muslims around the world, over on the Arabic blog, if you’re so inclined.

My purpose here is only to give you some Persian greetings you can offer for the month. If you’ve read that Arabic entry then this will be pretty simple, because we’re just using the same Arabic greetings, رَمَضان مُبارَك (ramażān mubārak), “Blessed Ramadan!” and رَمَضان كَريم (ramażān karīm), “Generous Ramadan!” The only difference is in pronunciation, where you’ll notice that the Arabic ramaḍān, with a deep “d” sound, is in Persian pronounced ramażān, with a regular “z” sound. The letter ض, which has a deep “d” sound in Arabic, takes a “z” sound in Persian, which you already knew because you read our guide to Persian pronunciation, obviously.

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Persian Numbers III: 11-1000

For the numbers 1-10, see here.

Like English, Persian has slightly altered forms for the numbers 11-19 (though they all tack on the number ten, دَه, at the end, like the English “-teen” for ten) but then everything after that just takes the form “x and y” (in Persian, a number like twenty-four would read “twenty and four”), which is lucky for us because it means that after we get through 19 we just have to hit a few examples and we’ve got all the numbers covered to 1000 (really we could go past 1000, but numbers are infinite and our time here is not, so 1000 is where we’re stopping for now).

English name

Western Arabic numeral

Persian numeral

Persian name

Persian name transliterated















































Now we can count by 10s or more:

  • 20 (twenty): ۲۰ (بیست, bīst)
  • 30 (thirty): ۳۰ (سی, )
  • 40 (forty): ۴۰ (چِهِل, chihil)
  • 50 (fifty): ۵۰ (پَنجاه, panjāh)
  • 60 (sixty): ۶۰ (شَصت, shaṣt)
  • 70 (seventy): ۷۰ (هَفتاد, haftād)
  • 80 (eighty): ۸۰ (هَشتاد, hashtād)
  • 90 (ninety): ۹۰ (نَوَد, navad)

And now by hundreds:

  • 100 (one hundred): ۱۰۰ (صَد, ṣad)
  • 200 (two hundred): ۲۰۰ (دِویست, divīst)
  • 300 (three hundred): ۳۰۰ (سیصد, sīṣad)
  • 400 (four hundred): ۴۰۰ (چَهارصد, chahārṣad)
  • 500 (five hundred): ۵۰۰ (پانصد, pānṣad)
  • 600 (six hundred): ۶۰۰ (شِشصد, shishṣad)
  • 700 (seven hundred): ۷۰۰ (هَفتصد, haftṣad)
  • 800 (eight hundred): ۸۰۰ (هَشتصد, hashtṣad)
  • 900 (nine hundred): ۹۰۰ (نُهصد, nuhṣad)
  • 1000 (one thousand): ۱۰۰۰ (هِزار, hizār)

Combining numbers is easy:

  • 21 (twenty-one): ۲۱ (بیست و یک, bīst-ū-yik, “beest-oh-yek”)
  • 84 (eighty-four): ۸۴ (هشتاد و چهار, hashtād-ū-chahār)
  • 562 (five hundred sixty-two): ۵۶۲ (پانصد و شصت و دو, pānṣad-ū-shaṣt-ū-du)
  • 1357 (one thousand three hundred fifty-seven): ۱۳۵۷ (هزار و سیصد و پنجاه و هفت, hizār-ū-sīṣad-ū-panjāh-ū-haft)

To somebody accustomed to a left-to-right writing system, it seems like Persian strangely writes its large numerals left-to-right (above, “562” is ۵۶۲), even though the rest of the language is written from right-to-left, and, frankly, this is strange in the case of Persian. However, this is how you write numbers in Arabic script because Arabic reads numbers from smallest to largest, not largest to smallest like us we do in English (or like they do in Persian). This is one case where the adopted script doesn’t completely map to the particulars of the language.

نوروز مبارک

Today marks the Iranian New Year, or نوروز, so I’m reblogging my Nowruz post from two years ago for your amusement/bemusement. Please enjoy!

Persian Word a Day

This is a day late for many Persian speakers, but right on time for many others. Nowruz (نوروز) is the first day of the new year on the Iranian calendar, also known as the Solar Hijri calendar. It is fixed to the vernal equinox as determined by astronomical observation for the Iranian Standard Time zone (GMT+3.5), and because it’s marked by astronomical observation rather than fixed date, it may fall on either March 20 or March 21 in any given year, and it is observed on different days in different places (March 21 in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, but March 20-24 in Iran where it is a week-long festival). It is a compound word combining نو (now, not pronounced like our “now,” but rather like the word “no” with a w tacked on the end), meaning “new”, and روز (rūz), which in modern Persian means “day,” but…

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میلاد پیامبر اکرم

The birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, called میلادِ پَیامبَرِ اکرَم (mīlād-i payāmbar-i akram) in Persian, is being observed today, the 12th of the Hijri month ربيع اول (if you want to be technical about it, the commemoration started at sundown last night, and I guess it’s ended by now in most of the world, but it’s still worth noting). Though not one of the major Islamic holidays, many Muslims do commemorate Muhammad’s birth with decorations and by exchanging small gifts or sweets.

Milad is not a universally celebrated holiday, for a couple of reasons. There’s no historical record of the earliest Muslims celebrating Muhammad’s birthday as a special event; the first widespread Milad celebration doesn’t appear in the record until the 12th century, though there are records of earlier, smaller observances. So for modern self-proclaimed “fundamentalists” the holiday is an innovation and therefore illegitimate. Honoring a historical figure’s birthday also comes too close to revering or worshiping that person for those arch-conservative groups, which would make it an example of the most serious sin in any monotheistic faith. So you’re not likely to find any sanctioned Milad celebrations in Saudi Arabia, or being organized by ISIS. But in most of the Islamic World Milad is treated as an important cultural marker if not an especially religious one, more Presidents Day than Christmas. This blog is certainly not in the business of litigating inter-Islamic religious debates, so I’m not here to comment on Milad’s legitimacy, but this does offer us a chance to explore a little vocabulary.

  • prophet: پیامبر (payāmbar) or نبی (nabī)
  • prophethood: نبوت (nubuwwat) or پیامبری (payāmbarī)
  • birthday: میلاد (mīlād) or زادروز (zādrūz)
  • to be born: متولد شدن (mutawallid shudan, “to become born”) or به دنیا آمدن (bih dunyā āmadan, “to come into the world”)


سال نو مبارک

Happy 2015! If you’re looking for the appropriate Persian greeting for the occasion, this post should help!

Persian Word a Day

Sorry for the break in posting! Visiting family and a nasty cold will do that to you.

Iranians celebrate up to three “New Years”: the Islamic New Year, the Gregorian New Year, and Nawruz or Nowruz, the traditional Iranian New Year going back to pre-Islamic times, and is probably the most celebrated Iranian holiday although it lacks the religious significance of Islamic and specifically Shi’ite holy days. It is celebrated at the March equinox, i.e., the first day of spring, so usually on or about March 21st on the Gregorian calendar.

Nowruz is immensely important and we’ll talk about it at the appropriate time, but there’s really no reason to spend time on it today. Today we want to say something about the Gregorian New Year, which in Persian would be سالِ نَو (sāl-i naw).

“Happy New Year” will be سالِ نَو مُبارَک (sāl-i naw mubārak

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Vegetables: سبزیجان

Back to food, let’s get healthy and talk vegetables.

Have I missed your favorite? Leave it in comments and I’ll add it!

“Vegetables” is سَبزیجان (sabzījān), singular سَبزی (sabzī), which comes from the word سبز, “green.”

  • artichoke: کنگر فَرَنگی (kangar farangī) or انگِنار (inginār)
  • asparagus: مارچوبه (mārchūbah)
  • avocado: آوُکادو (āvukādū)
  • beets: چُغُندُر (chughundur)
  • broccoli: بروكلی (brūkulī)
  • cabbage: کَلَم (kalam)
  • carrot: هاوچ (hāvuch)
  • cauliflower: گُل کَلَم (gul kalam, “cabbage flower”)
  • celery: کَرَفس (karafs)
  • chicory (catchall for things like endive and radicchio): کاسَنی (kāsanī)
  • cucumber: خیار (khiyār)
  • eggplant: بادَمجان (bādamjān)
  • garlic: سیر (sīr)
  • kale: کَلَم پیچ (kalam pīch, “twisty cabbage”)
  • leeks: تَره فَرَنگی (tarah farangī)
  • lettuce: کاهو (kāhū)
  • mushroom: قارچ (qārch)
  • okra: بامیه (bāmīyah)
  • onion: پِیاز (piyāz)
  • parsnip: هاوچ وَحشی (hāvuch waḥshī, “wild carrot”)
  • peas: نُخود فَرَنگی (nukhūd farangī)
  • pepper (red, green): فِلفِل (filfil)

    • green pepper: فلفل سَبز (filfil sabz)
    • red pepper: فلفل قِرمِز (filfil qirmiz)
    • yellow pepper: فلفل زَرد (filfil zard)
  • potato: سیب زَمینی (sīb zamīnī, literally “ground apple,” a calque on the French pomme de terre)
  • pumpkin: کَدو تَنبَل (kadū tanbal, pronounced “ka-doo-tam-bal” and meaning literally “lazy gourd”)
  • radish: تُرُبچه (turubchah)
  • spinach: اسفِناج (isfināj)
  • string beans: لوبیا (lūbiyā)
  • squash: کَدو (kadū, also “gourd”) or اسکواش (iskwash)
  • sweet potato/yam: سیب زَمینی شیرین (sīb zamīnī-yi shīrīn)
  • tomato: گوجه فَرَنگی (gūjah farangī, literally “Frankish/European plum”)
  • turnip: شَلغَم (shalgham)
  • zucchini: کَدو سَبز (kadū sabz, “green squash”)

عاشورا (Ashura)

The holiday of عاشورا began at sundown last night. Please enjoy the post I wrote about عاشورا last year.

Persian Word a Day

Sundown today marked the beginning of the Islamic holiday known as Ashura or عاشورا (ʿāshūrā). This is the tenth day of the month of Muharram (محرم), or in other words the tenth day of the new Islamic year, and it takes its name from the Arabic name of the numeral ۱۰ (our 10), عشر (ʿashr). Please read some of the general information about the holiday at my Arabic site, but then come back here for the story of why it is such an important day in Shiʿism.

Ashura is fundamentally important in Shiʿism because on this day, in the Hijri year 61 (680 for non-Muslims), Imam Husayn (حسین), the son of Ali (علی), was martyred in battle with the armies of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid I (یزید) at Karbala, in modern Iraq. Yazid was the son of the previous Caliph, Muʿawiyah (مُعاویه), who had promised…

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Meats: گوشتها

Keeping with a food theme, here are Persian words for some common meats. I’m including a few non-halal (حلال, “permitted,” akin to “Kosher” if you like) meats, because (and this should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway) not everybody who speaks Persian is a Muslim.

Have I missed your favorite? Leave it in comments and I’ll add it!

Meat, گوشت (gūsht):

  • Beef: گوشت گاو (gūsht-ِِi gāv, “meat of a cow”)
    • Hamburger: همبرگر (hamburgir)
    • Steak: استَیک (istayk)
    • Veal: گوشت گَوساله (gūsht-ِِi gavsālah)
  • Chicken: جوجه (jūjah) or مُرغ (murgh); مرغ is a more generic term for “bird,” but you’ll find these used interchangeably and to mean different kinds of poultry (e.g., you might see a “Joojeh” kabob on the same menu with a “Morgh” kabob, where one refers to chicken and the other to something like Cornish hen)
  • Turkey: بو قَلَمون (bū qalamūn)
  • Lamb: گوشت بره (gūsht-ِِi barrah) or just بره
    • Mutton: گوشت گوسفند (gūsht-ِِi gūsfand)
  • Goat: گوشت بز (gūsht-ِِi baz) or just بز
  • Pork: گوشت خوک (gūsht-ِِi khūk)
    • Ham: ژامبون (zhāmbūn, from the French jambon) or گوشت ران خوک (gūsht-ِِi rān-i khūk, “meat of the thigh of the pig”)
  • Bacon (halal bacon can be made from turkey, beef, even fish, provided it’s prepared in the correct way): بَيكن (baykun)
  • Sausage (again, halal sausages can be made with beef, turkey, lamb, chicken, etc.): سوسیس (sūsīs)
  • Fish: ماهی (māhī)
    • Salmon: ماهی قزل آلا (māhī-i qizil ālā, “red fish” or “pink fish”)
    • Tuna: تُن ماهی (tun māhī)
  • Lobster: لابستر (lābstir)
  • Shrimp: میگو (maygū)
  • Crab: خرچنگ (kharchang)