Word of the Day Al Hapanim עַל הַפָּנִים

A bright smile or a refreshing facial are always welcome on the face. But in Hebrew, when things are a bit messed up, they can be found on the face, too.

Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova
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Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova

If you have a smile on your face, you’ve got a hiyukh al hapanim. But if, like Alexander of storybook fame, you’re having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, then your day -- but presumably not your smile -- is al hapanim, literally “on the face.”

Commenting on a 2010 online government campaign meant to show Israel in a good light, one blogger complained about its focus on camels with the headline, “Want to know why Israeli PR is al hapanim?”

For Ziggy3000, it seems that Israel may as well be using camels as its primary means of transportation. “Why is public transit in Israel al hapanim?” he asked in a post promoting a conference on public transportation last month.

Sometimes the literal and figurative faces of Hebrew combine, though, as with a Hebrew health and beauty article that included advice on wearing a papaya face mask. Its title? “The food is ‘on the face.’”

If you have a smile on your face then your day probably isn't 'al hapanim'.Credit: Wikipedia

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