• jihad •
jee-hahd • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A Muslim holy war in defense of Islam. 2. The personal inner spiritual struggle against sin. 3. A ferocious war or struggle of any kind.
Notes: This word is not so much in the news these days; it should have been run long ago. It is now used in a figurative sense of a ferocious fight in any sense of the word, 'a political jihad', an 'environmental jihad', etc.
In Play: The original meaning of this word refers to a Muslim war against nonbelievers: "The Islamic jihad led by Al Kaselsa is giving Israel headaches galore." However, the extended meaning refers to any passionate struggle to achieve a goal: "The Republican Party has been on a political jihad against Obamacare for seven long years."
Word History: Today's Good Word is Arabic jihad "struggle, striving; holy war," from the infinitive of jahada "he waged war, he strove for", probably influenced by the derived word jaahada "to fight". Originally, jihad was used in English purely in reference to a religious war against nonbelievers. Both these words are based on the Arabic root jhd "to strive". Mujahid "combatant in a jihad", plural mujahidin, is actually the present active participle of jaahada "to fight" used as a noun. (Our gratitude is owed Albert Skiles of Fayetteville, Arkansas, who recommended today's exotic Good Word at least five years ago.)