he·​gi·​ra | \ hi-ˈjī-rə How to pronounce hegira (audio) , ˈhe-jə-rə\
variants: or less commonly hejira

Definition of hegira

: a journey especially when undertaken to escape from a dangerous or undesirable situation : exodus

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In the year A.D. 622, the prophet Muhammad was forced to flee his native city, Mecca, to escape persecution from those who rejected his message. Muhammad, the founder of Islam, migrated with a number of his followers to Medina, where they were guaranteed protection by local clans. This event, which traditionally marks the beginning of the Islamic era, is known in Arabic as the Hijra-literally, "departure." That Arabic term passed into Medieval Latin (where it was modified to Hegira) and from there it eventually made its way into English. By the mid-18th century, English speakers were using hegira for other journeys, too-especially arduous ones.

Examples of hegira in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

So our favorite loudmouth abandoned his broadcast booth in Palm Beach and joined the great hegira and traffic jam, having realized that these days Florida is a great state to get far, far away from. Paul Greenberg, Alaska Dispatch News, "Limbaugh a conservative? Not even close," 22 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hegira.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of hegira

1753, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hegira

the Hegira, flight of Muhammad from Mecca in a.d. 622, from Medieval Latin, from Arabic hijra, literally, departure

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The first known use of hegira was in 1753

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to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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