Arabic Word of the Day - low واطي

The word واطي is used to mean low literally and figuratively. You can call someone low (i.e. lowdown good for nothing snake in the grass) just like you would in English, or you can use it to mean something like "lower your voice". In MSA منخفض is used to mean low. واطي is specific to Levantine dialect and isn't used at all in MSA.

1. هو واحد واطي (huwwi waahid waati) - He is a lowdown good for nothing double crossing snake in the grass.
2. وطّي صوتك (watti sootak) - Lower your voice.

I also have a question for anyone who can answer it. There's a Jordanian song sung by احمد الدرايسة (Ahmad-Al-Draysseh) that says حيطنا مش واطي واحنا اردنية. Does anyone know what حيط is?


Hisham Qaddomi said...

Hey there. The word حيط means "Wall". In Arabic حيط واطي which means "A low wall" in the culture means that we are not exposed and not vulnerable. The low wall in the culture is a sign for being vulnerable because low wall allows people to jump easily into your area or house. High walls are a sign for strength and invulnerability and makes your house like a dungeon. Hope that's good for you :)

The Arabic Student said...

I don't know why my brain didn't recognize that word. حائط is what I'm used to and also حْيط but for some reason when they say it حَيط like in the song I didn't get it. It's crazy how a little vowel can mess you up. Thanks for the help!

Hisham Qaddomi said...

Just another comment. The word واطي actually is IN the original Arabic "MSA" as you call it it is واطئ pronounced as "Wate'" with hamza at the end. In the local dialects the hamza normally becomes a vowel for ease. The word واطئ is originally from the verb وطأ "Wata'a" which means "stepped". The step referes to the foot which is the lowest point in the body. That's wahy واطئ means low. Hope that helps as well.

makkay said...

In Gulf dialects there is a common expression الطوفة الهبيطة which is literally translated into "the wall of low height"

الطوفة = حائط
هبيطة = واطية

This basically means as Hisham Qaddomi said that you are the easiest person or group that others can use or take advantage of .. or that you are an underdog. It could also mean that you are disrespected. Someone who is treated as unworthy or is always ignored can be referred to as طوفة هبيطة

For example if a person disregard you, you can say to them

يعني شايفني طوفة هبيطة؟
Does that mean you think I'm the short wall

Another example is

الإسلام صار طوفة هبيطة لكل من هب ودب
Islam has become a short wall to anyone

Another good phrase that you could use is يستوطي حيطتي
I think you can work out what that means?

I also want to add that the word واطي is used in all Gulf dialects and isn't particularly specific to Al-Sham dialects and mostly used in the figurative sense of the word to insult someone by calling them يا واطي .. but a phrase that I always use is وطي صوت التلفزيون or وطي عالصوت

Anonymous said...

hey u speak Arabic really good,
so good for u it's a lovely language and if u need anything it would be my pleasure to help =)

Linguist said...

To add my”two pence” to the comments above:

(Sorry, my computer is not Arabic-script enabled which means if I can’t cut and paste, I have to use transliteration).

As Hisham Qaddomi said above - the word واطي does occur in MSA and in fact, is listed in Hans Wehr on pages 1078-9 (1st edition) as an adjectival form of the verb وطي (plus final hamza).

It appears to be a fully developed verb. Wehr shows it in Forms I, II, III, IV and VI with all kinds of derived meanings.

It’s also interesting that one of the names for THE NETHERLANDS in Arabic (also according to Wehr) is Al-Araadh Al- Waati’a (The Low Lands), besides the more common HOLANDIA and الأراضي المنخفضة

Among the meanings listed for واطي
is "low, muffled, subdued,soft.

This is interesting because one of the words in Arabic for BAT (that little flying mammal) is waTwaaT, known, of course, for it's very "muffled, soft and subdued" flying (!)

Anonymous said...

Hello Arabic Student, Firstly, I appreciate your work. I myself have been studying Arabic for three years now. I live in The Netherlands where 2.5% of the population has an Arab background, Moroccan in 80% of the cases, the other 20% Middle Eastern.
Regarding the word حيط , I came across an Arabic tongue twister on the BBC language website: خيط حرير على حيط خالتي ام خليل
I assume you know the meaning by know!