As Lebanese, we have become so accustomed to the names of our areas that most of the time we hardly ever realize just how funny or odd they might sound. From Sin el Fil to Furn el Chebbak or perhaps Nahr el Kalb? Here is a list of some very bizarre-sounding areas in Lebanon translated to English:
Sin el Fil: Translation: Tooth of the elephant/ the elephant’s tooth. In fact, the name comes from the Syriac “the color of ivory”, “Shen-de-Fila” but some also attribute the name to Saint Theophilus of Antioch who spent most of his life in that area.
Ain el Rimaneh: Translation: “Eye of the pomegranate” or “the spring near the pomegranate tree”, since the Arabic word for “eye” could also be used to refer to a “spring”. Some believe that the name is related to the ancient god Ramman or Rimman (mentioned in the bible), whose symbol was the pomegranate flower.
Beit Shabab: Translation: “House of the guys” or “House of the young men”. In Anis Freiha’s book “Dictionary of the Names of Town and Villages in Lebanon”, Freiha mentions that the name comes from the Syriac "Bet Shebāba", which translates into "house of the neighbor".
Bint Jbeil:Translation: Daughter of the mountains. Some believe the name is originally Yemeni going back to tribes that moved here centuries ago from the Yemeni towns of Jibla, Jabalan Al ardaba, and jabalan al raymah or the two areas of jubail. Others think it came from Phoenicians from Byblos (Jbeil) hence “Bint Jbeil” or “daughter of Byblos”.
Anfeh:Translation: “My nose”. The name “Enfeh” exists in the Tell- Amarna tablets of ancient Egypt (Letters written by the King of Byblos mention the city of Enfeh (called “Ampi” in the letters), whose name later changed to “Anpa” with the invasion of the Assyrian army in 7th century B.C.
Deir El Qamar: Translation: “Monastery of the Moon". Wikipedia explains that the name comes from an image of the Moon engraved on a wall there but historians say that long ago, monks found the ruins of a rundown monastery so they began rebuilding it under moonlight since they had other tasks during the day. The village is mentioned in a Latin document as far back as dates back as the year 1260.
Wede l Jamejem:Translation: The valley of skeletons. No surprise there as the road that goes across the valley is very dangerous!
Nahr l Kalb: Translation: River of dogs You won’t find dogs there, just lots of traffic!
Laqlouq:Translation: Lustrous and Gleaming or maybe even wobbly?
Perhaps due to the glow of the yearly snow
Furn el Chebbak: Translation: Oven of the window/ “The bakery of or at the window”. Some say that the area got its name from a popular “Furn” or a place where people got their baked goods and bread from after getting off the tramway (in the days when Beirut had one).
Take a look at 10 other unusual area names and their literal translations:
Hay El Sellum (or Sullum): “Neighborhood of the ladder”.
Nahr el Mot: the River of death
Talet el Khayat: Hill of the tailor
Jouret el ballout: The hole of acorns
Tareek el Jdeideh: New road
Sakiet el Janzeer: “Waterer” of the chain” or “One who waters” the chain
Bourj Hamoud: The horoscope of Hamoud
Ras Beirut: Head or Tip of Beirut
Khirbit Silim: Ruined peace