Word of the Day / Mit'an

You might feel mit'an rigshi when a security guard rifles through your ta mit'an, but simmer down. He's just looking for a mit'an habala.

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If a security guard is checking your car before letting you into the mall parking lot, one of the things he's probably looking for is an explosive device in the trunk, or in Hebrew, a mit'an habala in your ta mit'an.

As you've no doubt noticed, in Hebrew those seemingly unrelated items use the same word: mit'an (meet-AHN), a noun meaning "cargo," "load," "charge" and "baggage."

In fact, bagaj, which comes to the Hebrew from the French via the Polish word bagaznik, is another word for ta mit'an, the aforementioned trunk (or boot) of a car, or the luggage compartment of a bus.

The explosives discovered by a teacher this week in a kindergarten sandbox in Nahariya – disturbingly downplayed just because police have classified the bad guys as criminals rather than terrorists – were a makeshift mit'an habala. (Sappers defused the device and no one was hurt.)

If that teacher used a cell phone to call the police, she would have had to make sure it had been charged with a mat'en, or charger, which is spelled the same as mit'an in Hebrew. And if she had been teaching physics students instead of kindergartners, she might have been in the midst of a lesson on electric charge (mit'an hashmali).

While mat'en is a rather neutral word, mit'an habala has a strong mit'an rigshi shlili, or "negative emotional connotation."

Speaking of emotions, a Hebrew song by Moran Kariti called "Mit'an shel Regashot," or "Emotional Baggage," includes the lyrics: "Because with you I knew what love was / And without you what remains is disappointment I've been left with emotional baggage."

However you feel about it, it's safe to say that mit'an is a pretty loaded word.

Mit'an on a ship.Credit: Bloomberg

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