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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"tea," 1919, from the Russian or Arabic word for "tea" (see tea, and compare cha). Now used especially of spiced teas.


n. A beverage made with black tea, steamed milk and sweet spices based loosely on Indian recipes

Chai (symbol)

Chai ( "living" ) is a Hebrew word that figures prominently in modern Jewish culture; the Hebrew letters of the word are often used as a visual symbol.

According to the secular, socialist affiliated The Jewish Daily Forward, its use as an amulet is very recent, originating in stories from 18th century Eastern Europe first used in amulets from the mid 20th century.

Chai as a symbol goes back to medieval Spain at the earliest. Letters as symbols in Jewish culture go back to the earliest Jewish roots, the Talmud states that the world was created from Hebrew letters which form verses of the Torah. In medieval Kabballah, Chai is the lowest (closest to the physical plane) emanation of God. According to 16th century Greek rabbi Shelomo Hacohen Soloniki, in his commentary on the Zohar, Chai as a symbol has its linkage in the Kabalah texts to God's attribute of 'Ratzon', or motivation, will, muse. The Jewish commentaries give an especially long treatment to certain verses in the Torah with the word as their central theme. Three examples are Leviticus 18 וָחַי בָּהֶם 'Chai Bahem', 'and you shall live by [this faith]' (as opposed to just doing it), this is part of the section dealing with the legacy of Moses Our Teacher following his death. Deuteronomy 31:9 " רְאֵה נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ הַיּוֹם, אֶת-הַחַיִּים וְאֶת-הַטּוֹב, וְאֶת-הַמָּוֶת, וְאֶת-הָרָע. 15 "Verily, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil, in that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances; then thou shalt live." There is nary an ancient Jewish commentator who does not comment on that verse. The Shema prayer as well speaks of the importance of Chai, to live and walk in the Jewish cultural lifestyle.

Two common Jewish names used since Talmudic times, are based on this symbol, Chaya feminine, Chayim masculine. The Jewish toast (on alcoholic beverages such as wine) is l'chaim, 'to life'.


Chai may refer to:

Chai (king of Ayutthaya)

Chai , full title in Thai Somdet Chaofa Chai or King Sanpet VI, was a king of Ayutthaya, reigning for nine months in 1656.

Chai (surname)

Chai (, also spelled as Tsai, Tchai) is a Chinese surname. The same surname is Sài in Vietnamese, and Si (, sometimes spelled as Shi, See, Sie, Sea) in Korean.

Chai is listed 325th in the Song dynasty classic text Hundred Family Surnames. As of 2008, it is the 127th most common surname in China, shared by 1.35 million people.

Usage examples of "chai".

Khitu and Chai came to the foot of the steps, flanks heaving as though they had been running hard.

Khitu and Chai with you to help you settle in, and they can bring the launch back.

Erase Khitu and Chai, and Kettrick vanishes as though he had never returned to Ree Darva, leaving only Seri and Larith to remember in discreet silence.

It was the first time in his life that anyone had tried to murder him, and that was enough to make him angry, but the business of Khitu and Chai really made him see red.

He explained to Chai that he had broken a human law and that if men saw him they would take him and put him in a cage.

With Chai beside him he passed unmolested, into wider and better-lighted streets.

He led Chai through the thronging streets, past shops and marketplaces where the lights never went out, past the joy streets where every sin known to forty breeds of man was available and the sunlight never came in, past theaters and gambling halls and certain obscure buildings where no one was admitted except those of one particular race and only the members of those races knew what went on in them.

He kicked his way resolutely upward through an accumulation of trash, and small weird beasties that yipped and hissed and scuttled for doorways at the sight of Chai, and numbers of small blue-skinned children who howled and scuttled for doorways at the sight of Chai.

He had barely enough strength left for the ritual knock, and then he bent and went in, with Chai behind him doubled down on all fours to get under the lintel.

They were all stripped to their sweating skins, except for Chai, who sat as close to Kettrick as she could get, her gray fur lank and her jaws wide open as she breathed.

They ooh-ahed at Chai and left her alone, but the men they half carried, pushing and hurrying along the trail.

They ran together for the woods, Chai with the carven fruits laid across her shoulder.

He understood then that Nillaine had drawn a hidden knife and tried to kill him, and that Chai had slapped it away in the bare nick of time.

They hurried along it, and now Chai carried the pillar club dragging from one hand because it caught in the creepers above and on both sides.

He started out across the landing field with Chai, running over the black scars of old flames, stumbling on calcined rock and ridges of glassy slag like cheap obsidian, flawed and stained.