Down to the last letter.

alphabetal-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāh,

Arabic linguists of the past examined the semantic connotations of Arabic alphabetical letters according to their position in a word, and were able to notice certain trends in meaning. Although the rules are by no means to be taken as absolute, they may be viewed within the larger phenomenon of ishtiqaaq and perhaps lend further insight into its mechanics.

Some of what was noticed was the following:

1. When the letter taa’ ت is the second root letter of a word, it affords the meaning of cutting or severance, for example:

batara al-yad بتر اليد means ‘he amputated the hand
atta al-habl بت الحبل means ‘he cut the rope’

2. When the letter thaa’ ث is the second root letter of a word, it affords the meaning of spreading or diffusion, for example:

nathara al-maa’ نثر الماء means ‘he sprinkled the water’
hathaa al-turaab حثا التراب means ‘he poured earth/soil [upon something]’

3. When the letter haa’ ح is the last root letter of a word, it affords the meaning of dispersion, expansion, and emergence, for example:

baaha al-sirr باح السر means ‘the secret was revealed’
saaha al-maa’ ساح الماء means ‘the water flowed’
saaha al-rajul صاح الرجل means ‘the man cried out’
faaha al-‘itr
فاح العطر means ‘the[smell of the] perfume diffused’

4. When the letter daal د is the second root letter of a word, it affords the meaning of separation, for example:

baddada al-maal بدّد المال means ‘he squandered the money’
wadda’a al-ahl ودّع الأهل means ‘he bade his family farewell’

5. When the letter raa’ ر is the second root letter of a word, it affords the meaning of continuity, for example:

kharkharat al-maa’ خرخرة الماء refers to the sound of the running stream
karkara al-jamal كركر الجمل refers to the braying of a camel when it is of a continuous nature

[*] Source: Kitab Mu’jam ‘Ajaa’ib al-Lughah by Shawqi Hamaadah


12 responses to “Down to the last letter.

  1. aabiransabeel

    Assalam ‘Alikum,

    Jazakallah Khairan Katheeran!

    W’alikum Assalam.

  2. Salamu’alaikum wa rahmatallah.

    Jazakamullahu khairan 🙂


  3. Assalaamu ‘alaikoum warhamatuAllaah,
    Jazaakum Allaahu khairan for another great post. I’m taking note of that book by Shawqi Hamaadah, is the rest of it pretty similar to the things you’ve mentioned thus far in this post?
    Wa’alaikoum assalaam warahmatuAllaah.

  4. Were you referring to donkey [himaar] or a camel [jamal] ?

  5. Wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    Wa iyyaakum.

    Umm Isaac, yes it is. It is a very small book though, so there is not much extra.

    Ola, yes, thank you for pointing out the mistake, it has been corrected.

  6. I am here courtesy of Abu Muhammad’s blog: – and I thank him for that!

    This is one site that I have to regularly visit!

  7. al-Salaamu ‘alaykum,

    Omar, thank you for your comment. We should be beginning to update again in due course in shaa’ Allaah. Thank you for your patience.

  8. Assalamu alykum.

    Are these patterns found throughout the Semitic languages or just arabic?

    Is arabic a revealed language?



  9. wa ‘alaykum al-Salaam,

    I am sorry, I have not studied the Semitic languages enough to know whether this happens in them also. In shaa’ Allaah one of the readers may be able to help out on this.

    With regards as to whether Arabic is a revealed language or not, there is much disagreement among the linguists and scholars on this issue, each with their own evidences and proofs, as was mentioned very briefly in this post:
    I am not in a position to say which is the correct view.

    If you are able to read Arabic, you may read the opinions of Ibn Jinni on this issue in al-Khasaa’is, or al-Suyuti in al-Muzhir. There is also a discussion of iit, bringing some of the proofs from both sides, at this url:

    wa al-Salaamu ‘alaykum

  10. I know root systems similar to Arabic exist in the other semitic languages, but I don’t know of any work done to elaborate on the issue. Please keep me in your du’aa.

  11. Assalamo Alaikum,

    “…whether or not Arabic is a revealed language”.

    Question arises can there be creation by the Creator without there simultaneously being a language? Physical presence of a thing before the eyes of some one is not knowledge unless he knows the code/name/ism of that thing as was the reply of the Angels. We gain knowledge by knowing the Ism and without Ism/code nothing can be stored in the memory.

    So if the Creator is creating something not for Himself/His own amusement but for a purpose and for someone else, language needs to be created simultaneously with the creation.

    Creation and language both are must. The first language could be only that in which The Creator introduces His Personal Name, i.e. Ar Rehman.

    That is the reason that the perception infolded in the Roots of Arabic contain all realities/physical facts relating to matter and life in such a manner that everyone in time and space could take it as proven fact, since Grand Quran is “Al Haqqo”, a statement of proven fact, for everyone who listened or read it.



  12. Excellent work…

    May allah reward you for this

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