Podcast Hezbollah

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Pronunciation: hez-bah-lah Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: The name of an extremist Shiite Muslim military organization supported by Syria and Iran operating in southern Lebanon. Its current leader is Hassan Nasrallah.

Notes: Today's word has been spelled Hizbollah and Hizbullah in English, but our spelling seems to have settled in as the standard. A member of Hezbollah is a Hezbollahi. Now you can be the first in your neighborhood to know the plural of this word: it is Hezbollahin.

In Play: Hezbollah forces have been a threat to Israel for many years. They have been responsible for many attacks against Israel and a war in 2006 that resulted in much loss of life and great destruction in both countries. During that war, rocket attacks on the Israeli cities of Haifa, Tiberias, Acre, Shlomi, and Carmiel sent the residents of these cities into bomb shelters or completely out of those towns.

Word History: Hezbollah flagSince Hezbollah was inspired by the successful Iranian revolution, it is no surprise that its name comes from Persian (Farsi) hezbollah "Party of God". The Persian word is based on Arabic hizbullah, made up of hizb "party" + Allah "God". The term was probably first used at a meeting in the Iraqi city of Najef in 1969, where the idea of a Muslim revolution in Lebanon was first advanced. The Arabic word Allah comes from the same source as Hebrew Bethel "House of God", comprising bet "house" + el "God". Persian ayatollah, as in Ayatollah Khomeini, is also based on this root, taken from Arabic 'ayatu "sign" + (A)llah "God".

Dr. Goodword,

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