Dear Athila, Khaled Hassan, and EN Members, 

Thank you for your intuitive responses re: the Credit Card thread,  which inspired me to write the following article: 

It is about an expression introduced by Athila: `ala ra'suh riyshah; and an allusion to the ultra RICH by  Khaled Hassan. Both cases inadvertly conspired to create the following unexpected linguistic link.  I hope you will enjoy it: 

Let's start with Athila's expression: (`ala ra'suh riyshah): This is a common expression used in the Egyptian vernacular. It  is a remark carrying a sarcastic tone, often referring to those who enjoy privileged status and/or abundance of wealth symbolized in the Arabic culture by a feather in one's cap. 

In this case, the individual believes that he/she is literally entitled to get away with doing something wrong.  Hence, the common phrase : Immal ya Biyh `ala ra'suh riyshah! Translated as: Of course, it is all on account of the feather in his/her cap or head. 

The placing of a feather in a hat has been symbolic of achievement that has arose in several  cultures, some believe that this occurred apparently independently. For example an English  writer and traveller, Richard Hansard recorded in his "Description of Hungary", in 1599 the  following: 

"It hath been an antient custom among them [Hungarians] that none should wear a fether but  he who had killed a Turk, to whom onlie yt was lawful to shew the number of his slaine enemys  by the number of fethers in his cappe." 

Another version is said to originated with the British forces in the American War of  Independence, in an attempt to mock the revolutionary militia. A doodle was 18th century  British slang for simpleton (a.k.a. noodle). Macaroni was slang for a dandy or fop. This  originated with the Macaroni Club, which was a group of London aesthetes who were anxious  to establish their sophistication by demonstrating a preference for foreign cuisine. The  thinking behind the theory is that the Yankees were so stupid as to believe that putting a  feather in one's cap would make them appear fashionable. Hence, the children's rhyme  Yankee Doodle is the best-known use of the phrase: 

Yankee Doodle went to town,
Riding on a pony; 
He stuck a feather in his cap, 
And called it macaroni. 

Please, don't believe this spaghetti anecdote, nor the other gruesome tale referring to the number of slain Turks corresponding to the number of feathers stuck in the Hungarians' cap. 

Now, we will touch upon Khaled Hassan's remark about the ultra RICH.

Here we find the development of the true etymology of the term RICH

The expression first appeared in Classical Arabic in the Qur'an (suwrat al-A`raf v. 26). The term in question originally meant "feather"  but in the Qura'nic verse it also refers to the state of being RICH

Yes, RICH -  pure and simple! 

For your edification, I have put together the various meanings of the terms RICH/ RIYSH side by side, both in English and Arabic illustrated in a JPEG. These terms are based on the Lisan al-`Arab and Lane's  English/Arabic Dictionary, along with the corresponding terms in the Oxford English Dictionary. You be the judge. 

I also added below the various erroneous hypothetical etymologies which attribute the term "rich"  to Old French (of Germanic origin).   I guess in the world of some etymologists everything can be make to appear real if they garnished their theories with fancy fairy tales. 




RICH  (rch) According to western dictionaries means:  Possessing great material wealth:


[Middle English riche, from Old French (of Germanic origin) and from Old English rce, strong, powerful; see reg- in Indo-European roots.]

O.E. rice "wealthy, powerful, mighty," from P.Gmc. *rikijaz (cf. O.N. rikr, O.H.G. rihhi "ruler, powerful, rich," O.Fris. rike, Du. rijk, Ger. reich "rich," Goth. reiks "ruler, powerful, rich"), borrowed from a Celtic source akin to Gaulish *rix, O.Ir. ri (gen. rig) "king," from PIE base *reg- "move in a straight line," hence, "direct, rule". 

The form of the word infl. in M.E. by O.Fr. riche "wealthy," from Frank. *riki "powerful," from the Gmc. source. The evolution of the word reflects a connection between wealth and power in the ancient world. Of food and colors, from c.1330; of sounds, from 1592. Sense of "entertaining, amusing" is recorded from 1760. The noun meaning "the wealthy" was in O.E. 





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