Wiktionary:About Arabic

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See also Category:Arabic language


Arabic transliterations (that is, romanizations) are not words. Arabic entries should only be written in the Arabic script.

The Wiktionary romanization system for Arabic is based on the system found in Hans Wehr A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, 4th edition, with the following modifications:

  1. Hamza (ʾ) is always written at the beginning of a word, except when the word begins with an elidable hamza (hamzat al-qaṭʿ).
  2. أ and إ at the beginning of a word should never be written with plain ا, although words spelled this way can be entered as lemmas with {{alternative spelling of}} used to redirect to the proper spelling.
  3. -iyy-, -uww- are used in place of -īy-, -ūw-.
  4. -ay-, -aw- are used in place of -ai-, -au-.
  5. Words with the nisba ending ـِيّ are transcribed with -iyy instead of .
  6. The third-person masculine singular object pronoun is always written -hu/-hi with a short vowel (Hans Wehr writes -hū/-hī following a short vowel, -hu/-hi following a long vowel).

Other important points:

  1. ة gives a normally, but at in an ʾiḍāfa construction.
  2. اة gives āh normally, but āt in an ʾiḍāfa construction.
  3. Similarly, آة, as in e.g. مِرْآة(mirʾāh, mirror), gives ʾāh normally, but ʾāt in an ʾiḍāfa construction.
  4. Hamzas are always written ʾ regardless of which letter they sit on.
  5. Orthographic, silent و and ا occurring at the end of certain words are not transliterated. For example, the third-plural ending ـُوا is transliterated , and the name عَمْرو is transliterated ʿamr in accordance with its pronunciation. (Note that the silence of these letters appears in the Arabic spelling, indicated by the lack of any diacritic over the previous letter when fully vocalized.)
  6. Assimilation and elision of the definite article is shown; hence al- may appear as ad-, aṭ-, etc. before a sun letter or as elided l-, d-, ṭ- etc. after a vowel and before a sun letter. (Assimilation and elision is also reflected in fully vocalized Arabic spelling.)
  7. To transliterate shadda, the concerned consonant is written twice.
  8. The character - is used to separate articles and other clitics (e.g. bi-, wa-, al-, etc.). However, allāh and related forms of this word are written without the hyphen.
  9. Stress is not shown, since different dialects have widely varying stress systems and it is non-phonemic in Standard Arabic.
  10. Transliteration of some loanwords may be unexpected and may need to be specified manually.
  11. Some existing transliterations may be mistaken in various ways, e.g. not showing assimilation or elision, using dialect conventions such as writing ʾiḍāfa -at as -it, indicating final -iyy as -iy, etc. Beware of these and fix them when you encounter them.

When to use initial أ/إ and when to use initial ا? Most words require أ/إ, except the following:

  1. The definite article ال.
  2. Verbs in forms VII and higher in the past tense, imperative or verbal noun. Note that form IV verbal nouns do require إ (e.g. إِضْرَاب(ʾiḍrāb), إِضَافَة(ʾiḍāfa)), as do all borrowed words, including words such as إِنْجِلِيز(ʾingilīz), إِسْبَان(ʾisbān), إِفْرِيقِيَا(ʾifrīqiyā), which look somewhat like form VII+ verbal nouns.
  3. Verbs in form I in the imperative (those with hamza-initial roots do require hamza in the imperative)
  4. The words اِبْن(ibn), اِسْم(ism) and اِسْت(ist).

When is manual transliteration necessary?

Primarily in the following situations:

  1. Whenever a word ending in ة occurs as other than the final word. In that case, the automatic transliteration will render the ending as (t); the manual transliteration should render it as either t or nothing, depending on whether it's in the construct state. Note that manual transliteration is not necessary when the ة is followed by ʾiʿrāb such as ً(-an); in such a case the ة will automatically be rendered as t. (Analogous considerations apply to the ending اة, which should be rendered either āt or āh in manual translit.)
  2. When a word is preceded by a clitic prefix such as وَـ(wa-), بِـ(bi-) or لِـ(li-), so that the hyphen can be written. The automatic transliteration will also have problems with some prefixes followed by the definite article, e.g. وَالْكِتَاب(wa-l-kitāb), rendered as وَالْكِتَاب(wālkitāb) without manual transliteration, and وَالشَّيْء(wa-š-šayʾ), which without manual transliteration is rendered وَالشَّيْء, without any transliteration. Note that manual translit is not necessary in words beginning with the definite article, e.g. الكِتَاب(al-kitāb). Note also that as a special case, words with bi- + definite article are automatically handled correctly, e.g. بِالكِتَاب(bi-l-kitāb) or بِالتَأْكِيد(bi-t-taʾkīd).
  3. In borrowed words where written long vowels are pronounced short, e.g. فِيلْم(film, film); where the vowels e, ē, o or ō occur, e.g. بِيَانُو(biyānō, piano); or where a letter has an unexpected pronunciation such as g, e.g. إِنْجْلِيزِيّ(ʾinglīziyy, English).
  4. In the small number of native words not pronounced as spelled, e.g. أُولٰئِكَ(ʾulāʾika, those), مِائَة(miʾa, hundred), عَمْرو(ʿamr, Amr), صَلٰوة(ṣalāh, prayer).

ʾiʿrāb (final short vowels and nunation)

We use the following system for deciding whether to include ʾiʿrāb (final, normally unpronounced short vowels and nunation, e.g. the third-person masculine singular past-tense ending -a or the indefinite nominative singular ending -un) in headwords, which generally follows Hans Wehr:

  1. Verbs are shown with full ʾiʿrāb, e.g. كَتَبَ(kataba, he wrote) rather than #كَتَب(katab).
  2. Triptote and diptote nouns (those ending in -un and -u in the indefinite nominative singular, respectively) are normally shown without the ʾiʿrāb, e.g. قَلْب(qalb, heart), مَكَاتِب(makātib, desks) rather than #قَلْبٌ(qalbun), #مَكَاتِبُ(makātibu). NOTE: There is some disagreement about the way diptotes are displayed, with some contributors preferring to use a superscript numeral 2 to indicate them, as is done in Hans Wehr. (Those who feel there is no need to indicate diptotes as such assume that declension tables will be shown, indicating whether nouns are diptotes or triptotes.)
  3. Duals and sound masculine and feminine plurals omit the ʾiʿrāb, e.g. بَيْتَان(baytān, two houses), مُسْلِمُون(muslimūn, Muslims), أُمَّهَات(ʾummahāt, mothers), مُعَمَّوْن(muʿammawn, disguised (masc. pl.)) rather than #بَيْتَانِ(baytāni), #مُسْلِمُونَ(muslimūna), #أُمَّهَاتٌ(ʾummahātun), #مُعَمَّوْنَ(muʿammawna).
  4. Other declension types include full ʾiʿrāb, e.g. قَاضٍ(qāḍin, judge), مُسْتَشْفًى(mustašfan, hospital), دُنْيَا(dunyā, world). Note that pages for words ending in -in such as قَاضٍ(qāḍin, judge) and وَادٍ(wādin, valley) are found under e.g. قاض and واد rather than #قاضي or #وادي, although the latter may be created as non-lemma (construct state) forms; see the example for وَادِي(wādī).

Other than in headwords, the choice of whether or not to include ʾiʿrāb is more idiosyncratic. Generally, declension and conjugation tables include full ʾiʿrāb; currently, this includes participles and verbal nouns listed in conjugation tables, although that may change. Quotes may or may not include ʾiʿrāb, depending on how formal they are.

Consistent with these rules, ʾiʿrāb should not be added to headwords if the above rules indicate that it should be omitted. However, some nouns and adjectives may include additional ʾiʿrāb; generally, a declension table should be added before the ʾiʿrāb is removed.

Dispreferred romanization

Some existing entries use different transliteration systems. All of these systems and alternatives are considered dispreferred, and should not be used in new entries. Gradually, they are being converted to standard notation. Most noticeable is the qalam system, which avoids diacritics, preferring e.g. to write aa ii uu ' T D S Z H sh th dh kh gh in place of our standard ā ī ū ʾ ṭ ḍ ṣ ẓ ḥ š ṯ ḏ ḵ ḡ; this necessitates writing e.g. s-h for our standard sh, i.e. an s followed by an h. Other common alternatives are x for our standard and ʕ or 3 for our standard ʿ. Many non-standard transliterations also indicate stress with an acute accent, which our standard system does not do.

Romanization table

Letter Rom. Dispreferred alternatives
(incl. Arabic chat alphabet)
IPA Notes
ا ā aa áa ā́ In initial position, it is used to spell a short vowel (a, i, u) without a preceding glottal stop; elsewhere it is used for long ā. Make sure to use أ or إ when appropriate, e.g. أكبر not #اكبر, although the latter can be created as an "alternative spelling" of the former, using {{alternative spelling of}}.
أ ʾa ʾu ʾ a u ʔ ' ʼ 2 ʔa ʔu ʔ In initial position, it is used to spell a combination of glottal stop and short vowel (ʔa, ʔu), elsewhere just a glottal stop (ʔ). Always transliterate the glottal stop, including in initial position (using the ʾ character, a half-ring; do not use an apostrophe). Always use أ rather than ا in initial position when it is called for.
إ ʾi i ʔi Only used in initial position, where it is used to spell ʔi. Always transliterate the glottal stop (using the ʾ character, a half-ring; do not use an apostrophe). Always use إ rather than ا in initial position when it is called for.
آ ʾā 'aa 'áa 'ā ʼā ʾā́ aa áa ā etc. ʔaː Always transliterate the glottal stop, including in initial position (using the ʾ character, a half-ring; do not use an apostrophe).
ب b b
ت t t- t dispreferred alternative t- used when transliterating the cluster t+h to avoid confusion with th (ث)
ث th θ θ
ج j ǧ d͡ʒ/ɡ Older versions of the Hans Wehr dictionary used "ǧ".
ح H ħ 7 ħ
خ ḫ kh x 5 x
د d d- d dispreferred alternative d- is used when transliterating the cluster d+h to avoid confusion with dh (ذ)
ذ dh ð
ر r r
ز z z
س s s- s dispreferred alternative s- is used when transliterating the cluster s+h to avoid confusion with sh (ش)
ش š sh ʃ
ص S sˤ 9
ض D
ط T 6
ظ Z ðˤ ðˤ
ع ʿ ʕ 3 ʻ ʕ
غ ġ gh ɣ
ف f f
ق q 8 q
ك k k- k dispreferred alternative k- is used when transliterating the cluster k+h to avoid confusion with kh (خ)
ل l l
م m m
ن n n
ه h h
و w ū o ō uu úu ū́ / oo óo ṓ w o and ō are used in some loanwords and dialectal terms.
ؤ ʾ ʔ ' ʼ 2 ʔ Generally used in the vicinity of a u or ū sound, although the exact rules are complex (see Hamza).
ي y ī e ē ii íi ī́ / ee ée ḗ j e and ē are used in some loanwords and dialectal terms.
ى ā aa áa ā́ Only used in final position. Only use ى in words where it represents or -an. Do not use the Egyptian style where final is spelled ى.
ئ ʾ ʔ ' ʼ 2 ʔ Generally used in the vicinity of a i or ī sound, although the exact rules are complex (see Hamza).
ء ʾ ʔ ' ʼ 2 ʔ
ة a at ah Normally, use -a, but use -at in the construct state (إِضَافَة(ʾiḍāfa)).
اة āh āt ā aa aah ā́h / aat ā́t etc. Normally, use -āh, but use -āt in the construct state (إِضَافَة(ʾiḍāfa)).
ـَ a á a
ـُ u ú u
ـِ i í i
ـًا, ـًى an an Note the position of the diacritic over the second-to-last letter, not the last one (do not use the spellings ـاً or ـىً with the diacritic over the last letter). In relaxed or colloquial Arabic pronounced only in most adverbials, often dropped as accusative ending.
ـٌ un un Not pronounced in relaxed or colloquial Arabic, and in pausa in strict Arabic.
ـٍ in in Not pronounced in relaxed or colloquial Arabic, and in pausa in strict Arabic.
ـَو aw áw au áu aw
ـُو ū uu úu ū́
ـَي ay áy ai ái aj
ـِي ī ii íi ī́
  • Letters with a limited usage, sometimes used in Arabic texts, borrowed from other languages (missing on standard Arabic keyboards):
  1. پ: p
  2. ڤ: v
  3. ڨ: v
  4. گ: g
  5. چ: č
  6. ژ: ž
  • Regional letters
  1. ڢ: f (Moroccan Arabic)
  2. ڧ: q (Moroccan Arabic)

See also

Templates pertaining to Arabic


{{subst:ar-welcome}} ({{ar-welcome}}) may be placed on the talk page of new Arabic-speaking contributors.


The template {{der||ar}} should be used in the etymology section of entries in non-Arabic languages whose origin may be derived from an Arabic word. For example, on the page for the English word djinn, the Etymology section contains the following code:

From {{der|en|ar|جِنّ||a mythical race of supernatural creatures}}.

Which produces the following display:

From Arabic جِنّ(jinn, a mythical race of supernatural creatures).

The template does the following things:

  1. It displays the name of the language of origin;
  2. It links to the Wikipedia article about Arabic; and
  3. Automatically categorizes the entry in the Category:English terms derived from Arabic.

This template also works for languages other than English if the first parameter is changed. So, for the Spanish word cero, the Etymology section contains the following code:

From {{der|es|it|zero}}, from Biblical Latin {{m|la|zephyrum}}, from {{der|es|xaa||ṣifr}}, from Classical {{der|es|ar|صِفْر||zero, nothing, empty, void}}.

Which produces the following display:

From Italian zero, from Biblical Latin zephyrum, from Andalusian Arabic ṣifr, from Classical Arabic صِفْر(ṣifr, zero, nothing, empty, void).

and classifies the entry in Category:Spanish terms derived from Italian and Category:Spanish terms derived from Arabic.

Arabic text

Arabic text in an Etymology or Translations section should be surrounded with {{m|ar|...}} or {{term|...|lang=ar}}, or the link template {{l|ar|...}}. Ideally the text should be written fully vocalized, in which case a transliteration will automatically be provided, but a transliteration can also be specified explicitly using tr=.

For example, the code

:*Arabic: {{term|قَامُوس|lang=ar}}, {{m|ar|جَزِيرَة}}, {{l|ar|كِتَاب}} 


:*Arabic: {{term|قَامُوس|tr=qāmūs|lang=ar}}, {{m|ar|جَزِيرَة|tr=jazīra}}, {{l|ar|كِتَاب|tr=kitāb}} 

produces the text:

Using the templates ensures that text written in Arabic script will display correctly on a wider range of computers and correct for many font problems, as well as providing automatic transliteration.

Noun, verb, adjective headwords

Numerous templates are available for headwords. For nouns, {{ar-noun}} should be used, or a more specific template like {{ar-proper noun}}, {{ar-coll-noun}}, {{ar-sing-noun}}. For verbs, use {{ar-verb}}. For adjectives, use {{ar-adj}}.

Noun, verb, adjective inflections

For verb inflections, use {{ar-conj}}. For noun inflections, use {{ar-decl-noun}}. For adjective inflections, use {{ar-decl-adj}}.

Preposition inflections

The template {{ar-prep-auto}} is used to show prepositions with bound pronouns. See for example ل and ب.

Regional pronunciations

The template {{arabic-dialect-pronunciation}} can be used to display pronunciations in the modern dialects of Arabic. See for example قابلة.