Root Exploration: م-و-ه


root: ب-س-ط / adjective / definition: simple

What can we get from the root of a word as simple as “water”? In Arabic, quite a lot!

Here we are, with the second post in the Root Exploration series, and this time we’re taking a look at the root م-و-ه.

(Refer back to the first post for an overview of the purpose and structure of posts in this series!)

Let’s explore this root in terms of its three verb forms…


Form I

الفعل / verb:

ماهَ / يَموهُ بـ = to mix something with

ماهَ / يَموهُ أو يَماهُ = to abound in water (i.e. to have lots water)

المصدر / verbal noun:

مَوه = (nominal form of the first definition)

مَوه أو مُؤوه أو ماهة = (nominal form of the second definition)

original noun:

ماء / مِياه أو أَمواه = water, liquid, fluid


  • كَالماء الجاري = fluently, smoothly, like clockwork
  • ماء الشَّباب = freshness/prime of youth
  • بَنو ماء السَّماء = the Arabs (literally: “the children of the water of the sky”)
  • ماء الوَجْه = honour, decency, modesty, self-respect (literally: “water of the face”)
  • أَراقَ / يُريقُ ماء وَجْهِهِ = to sacrifice one’s honour, to disgrace oneself
  • بَذَلَ / يَبذُلُ ماء وَجْهِهِ = (same as above)
  • ماء الزَّهْر = orange-blossom water
  • ماء الوَرْد = rose water
  • ماء الكولونيا = Eau de Cologne
  • ماء عَذْب = fresh/potable water
  • ماء غازي / مِياه غازيّة = carbonated/mineral water
  • مِياه الأَمطار = rain water
  • مِياه إقْليميّة = territorial waters
  • مِياه جَوفيّة = ground water
  • مِياه ساحِليّة = coastal waters
  • بَيت ماء = toilet, w.c.
  • ماء أَبيَض = cataract (literally: “white liquid”)
  • ماء أَزرَق = glaucoma (literally: “blue liquid”)

adjective forms of original noun:

ماهيّ أو ماويّ = watery, aqueous, aquatic

مائي = aquatic, water, liquid, fluid, hydraulic


  • أَلوان مائيّة = watercolours

abstract nouns of the adjectives:

ماويّه أو مائيّة = juice, sap

Note: ماهيّة is not related to this root and actually is an abstract noun derived from a question. Really interesting stuff.

Form II

الفعل / verb:

مَوَّهَ / يُمَوِّهُ = to abound in water, to pour water into, water down, dilute, to misrepresent, camouflage (also: to blur, e.g. blurring a photo)

(مَوَّهَ / يُمَوِّهُ (على = to falsify something

(مَوَّهَ / يُمَوِّهُ بِـ(شيء) على (فلان = to feign something towards someone

مَوَّهَ / يُمَوِّهُ بِـ = to coat/plate with (gold or silver)

المصدر / verbal noun:

تَمْويه = clothing, feigning, pretending, camouflage, distortion of facts, misrepresentation, falsification


  • كَأْس التَّمْويه = overfull cup

adjective form of verbal noun:

تَمْويهيّ = feigned, sham, mock, make-believe


  • غارة تَمْويهيّة = mock attack, feint

Form IV

الفعل / verb:

أَماهَ / يُميهُ = to add water to

I think we have some pretty cool collocations here!

Exploring words in depth is not only useful for literary analysis and memorising vocabulary, but it also gives us an insight into cultural associations. Take a look again at how ماء is linguistically (and thereby culturally) associated with honour. It’s almost enough to write a dissertation on!

That’s it for now—don’t forget to check out last week’s grammar post, and I’ll see you soon.

!إلى اللقاء

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