An earlier entry lamented the fact that there is no Arabic etymological dictionary; a Russian LJ site picked up on this and a commenter provided the following list of alleged counterexamples:

Murad Faraj
Multaqay al-lughatayn al-`Ivriyah wa-`al-`Arabiyah [The unity of the two Semitic languages Hebrew and Arabic, an etymological comparative dictionary].
Cairo: Al-Matba`ah al-Rahmaniyah, 1930-1937. 3 v.
Abd Allah Bustani
al-Bustan, oahoa mujamoun lugaouioun [The garden: an etymological dictionary].
Beirut: El matbaa el amrikia, 1927-1930. 2 v., 2784 p.
Jubran Mas`ud
mu`jam lughawi `asri rutibat mufradatuh wafqan li-hurufiha al-ulá
Beirut: Dar al-`Ilm lil-Mallayin, 1965. 1637 p.
Avraham Shtal; Avraham Robinzon
Milon du-leshoni etimologi le-`Arvit meduberet ule-`Ivrit [Bilingual etymological dictionary of spoken Israeli Arabic and Hebrew].
Tel-Aviv: Devir, 1995. 2 v., 711 p.

I wrote Professor Alan Kaye (who’s done etymological work on Arabic) asking “if any or all of these are genuine scholarly works,” and he responded “None of these are scientific etymological dictionaries as exist for other languages, such as English, which give the Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European etyma.” So the problem still stands: there are no reliable/scientific etymological dictionaries for Arabic.


  1. “And who are the judges?”, per immortal Griboedov.

  2. Happily, this isn’t Usenet, where we would have already gotten a visit from some crank claiming that Western etymological research is racist and bigoted, and the natively-produced dictionaries are just fine.

  3. Amen.

  4. I actually recently got the book by Avraham Stahl, and while it only has about 7000 entries, it’s pretty good.

  5. Huh. Well, that’s good to hear; at least there’s a start!

  6. I compiled a modest Arabic Etymological Dictionary. It is a HTML file. Interested?

  7. Very much so!

  8. My comment is about this entry
    Do you have any idea who al Bustani is?
    I would suggest you join a better university especially if you want to research arabic linguistics.
    May I suggest Oxford or la Sorbonne? try contacting a professor from there. Theyre always very nice and attentive.
    Some quick facts:
    1- Arabs valued linguistics over anything else, they would hold ‘poetry’ contests in the kabba. it was the equivalent of knight tournaments for the europeans.
    2- the koran which every mid range prof will tell you is the basis of the language was written to include ALL of the arabic dilects of the time, though only quraishi was concidered noble. This is why sometimes the word mecca is written becca. It was so each people would be celebrated, basic diplomacy really.
    2- arabic was always free of chakl,rules,etc. It was all about the power of words and that of the one who knew how to play them, up until islam came about and converted non arabs.
    3- arabs regarded the koran as a miracle because of the perfection of its prose. (now do you begin to see the importance of language and wording to this society?)
    4- Persians are the ones who helped shape the modern face of arabic, bet your professor never even bothered to point that out.
    5- The addition of chakl, the invention of Nahw and i’rab etc was all thanks to persian scholars.
    As for your question regarding why orientalists of the 19th century never cared to put together a serious ethm. dic for arabic, the answer is simple:
    how can you validate the fact that you are going to colonize a people and educate them all while letting it known that these people have a rich and highly complex linguistics?
    Dont forget to take into perspective social context when studying a language 😉
    oh and does it show that i was really bothered by it all when i came upon it through google?
    Ive always wished to have the chance to go to college and study linguistics and instead I just do my best to teach myself as much as possible, so when I see someone who actually DOES have the chance and the means to be educated about something as vital to humanity as language, I hate to see them do a half assed job about it.
    Please excuse my english, Its only my 6th language.
    Oh and I also hate the fact that orientalists always try their best to bring everything arabic down to Islam, there is something called al jahiliya people.

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