Root Exploration: ك-ش-ف


root: ج-ذ-ر / noun / plural: جُذور / definition: root

I feel a very nerdy rush of excitement as I begin this post, because it’s the first in the new Root Exploration series!

In this series of posts, we’re going to take a single Arabic root and explore all of its different forms, derivatives, and collocations—using the Hans Wehr (no surprise there!) as our reference.

Question: what’s the purpose of these “root explorations”?


a) Connecting words of the same root makes learning new vocabulary much faster and more efficient.

b) The same benefit applies when you learn words according to the verb form they’re derived from, which is how these posts are going to be organised.

c) Some people find reading the dictionary a bore. Maybe it’s the tiny font, or the tens of definitions under each word, I’m not sure. Anyway—if this applies to you—you shouldn’t have to miss out on the little gems in the dictionary. So, here, I’m presenting you with dictionary-type content… without the 1300-page format.

Here’s some notes about how I’ve formatted things:

  • some verbs have different meanings depending on which preposition they’re followed by (here‘s an interesting example)—so the meanings of each verb below are grouped according to the following preposition, or lack thereof
  • if there’s a preposition after the verb in brackets, that means it’s optional
  • the meanings of المصدر (the verbal noun) are simply the nominal/infinitive forms of the verb meanings—so I’ll only mention the additional or less obvious definitions
  • the past and present tenses for verbs, as well as the singular and plural forms of nouns, are separated with a slash
  • where there are multiple plurals or verbal nouns etc, these are separated with the word أو (“or”)
  • and finally, a collocation refers to a set of words that often come together—you can simply think of these as phrases

Now we’ve got that sorted, let’s get dig into our first root of the series, which is divided into seven different forms…


Form I

الفعل / verb:

(كَشَفَ / يَكشِف (عن = to reveal, uncover, bring to light

كَشَفَ / يَكشِف عن = examine, study, investigate

كَشَفَ / يَكشِف على = to medically examine someone


  • كَشَفَ القِناع عن = to unveil/unmask
  • كَشَفَ عليه طِبّيّاً = to examine medically
  • كَشَفَت الحَربُ عن ساقِها = the war was/became violent, war flared up/broke out

المصدر / verbal noun:

كَشْف = disclosure, exploration, scrutiny, boy scout movement

كَشْف / كُشوف أو كُشُفات = report, statement, chart

كُشوف (plural of كَشْف) = discoveries


  • كَشْف طِبّي = medical examination
  • كَشْف الاِقتِراع = muster roll
  • كَشْف الحِساب = bill, invoice
  • كَشْف الماهية = payroll, pay sheet
  • كَشْف الدَّرَجات = report card, school record

adjective form of verbal noun:

كَشْفي = boy scout (as an adjective)


  • حَرَكة كَشْفيّة = boy scout movement

active participle / اسم الفاعل:

كاشِف / كَشَفَة = examiner, investigator, revealing


  • ضَوْء كاشِف أو نُور كاشِف = searchlight
  • زَورَق كاشِف الألغام = mine sweeper
  • كاشِف المُحيط = periscope (literally: “discoverer/detector of the ocean”)
  • بانَ بِالكاشِف = to manifest itself clearly and unmistakably

emphatic form of active participle:

كَشّاف / كَشّافة = discoverer, explorer, detector, scout


  • كَشّاف ضَوْئي أو كَشّاف كَهرَبائي = searchlight
  • مِصباح كَشّاف أو نور كَشّاف = searchlight

(note how كَشّاف is used as both a noun and an adjective in the phrases above)

passive participle / اسم المفعول:

مَكْشوف = exposed, uncovered, bare


  • مَكْشوف الرَّأْس = bareheaded, hatless
  • بالمَكْشوف أو على المَكْشوف = openly, publicly

emphatic form of passive participle:

كَشيف = uncovered, open, exposed

instrument/tool form:

مِكشاف = detector

other derivatives:

كِشافة = exploration, reconnaissance, scouting

كِشافي (adjective form of كِشافة) = boy scout (as an adjective)

Form III

الفعل / verb:

(كاشَفَ / يُكاشِف (بِـ = to disclose, manifest, demonstrate, show


  • كاشَفَهُ بِالعَداوة = to manifest open hostility towards someone

Form V

الفعل / verb:

تَكَشَّفَ / يَتَكَشَّف = to be uncovered, revealed

تَكَشَّفَ / يَتَكَشَّف عن = to open up to reveal something


  • تَكَشَّفَ الأمرُ عن لا شَيء = the matter turned out to be of no consequence (literally: “the matter opened up to reveal nothing)
  • تَكَشَّفَ عن مُنتَهى العَجْز = to show oneself to be utterly helpless (مُنتَهى العَجْز literally means “the utmost limit of inability”)

Form VI

الفعل / verb:

تَكاشَفَ / يَتَكاشَف = to reveal secrets, thoughts, or feelings to one another

Form VII

الفعل / verb:

اِنكَشَفَ / يَنكَشِف = to be removed (i.e. a veil), to be uncovered, revealed

اِنكَشَفَ / يَنكَشِف لِـ= to become manifest to


الفعل / verb:

اِكتَشَفَ / يَكتَشِف = to discover, find out, detect

المصدر / verbal noun:

اِكتِشاف = detection, locating

اِكتِشاف / ـات= discovery

active participle / اسم الفاعل:

مُكتَشِف = discoverer, explorer

plural of passive participle / اسم المفعول:

مُكتَشَفات = discoveries

Form X

الفعل / verb:

اِستَكشَفَ / يَستَكشِف = to explore, investigate, find out

المصدر / verbal noun:

اِستِكشاف = clarification, close observation, exploration

adjective form of verbal noun:

اِستِكشافي = exploratory

active participle / اسم الفاعل:

مُستَكشِف = discoverer, explorer

Did you work out why I chose the root ك-ش-ف for the first post in the root exploration series? (If not… scroll back up!)

I hope that this post was useful—let me know what you think. Do you think we should include visual diagrams, mapping out all of the different derivatives? Just a thought.

Be sure to check out my latest posts, like Using سبق أن and Step-by-Step Arabic Literature Translation #4. See you on the next one, مع السلامة!

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