Arabic Verbs for “to Look at”


root: ب-ص-ر / noun / plural: أَبْصار / definition: sight

I’m feeling really refreshed as I start this post (perhaps thanks to taking Friday off work and having a little time to breathe)! And as you’ve figured out from the title, it’s another addition to our synonyms series.

Oh, I can’t explain just how much I love these posts: a chance to admire Arabic’s rich lexicon, expand my vocabulary, and share all of this with you, fellow Arabic lovers.

The only difficulty this week was trying to hold myself back from noting down every synonym and near-synonym in the dictionary.

Still, I’ve managed to collate a cool list, longer than most (no, all) of my other synonyms posts.

Like we have gaze, glance, stare, etc. in English, Arabic verbs for “to look at” also have their own subtleties. Let’s explore:

نَظَرَ / يَنظُرُ / النَّظَر

the go-to, form I verb for to look at

we can use this verb with or without the preposition إلى before the object

there are also collocations which include this verb, such as:

  • (نَظَرَ شَزراً (إلى = to look askance*; glare distrustfully, angrily, or malignantly (at)

* I looked up “askance”—in case you, like me, have never heard of it before—it means “with disapproval or distrust” or “with a side-glance”

أَلقى / يُلقي / إلقاء نَظرة على

a form IV verb literally meaning to cast a glance over

we can also translate it as to take/have a look at

e.g. ألقى نظرة عليها = he took a look at it

أَبصَرَ / يُبصِرُ / الأَبصار

another form IV verb: to see, catch sight of, observe

the form I verb from the same root بَصِرَ / يَبصَر or بَصُرَ / يَبصُر also means to look/see

رَأى / يَرى / الرُّؤية

this form I verb means to see

(Is it accurate to say to see and to look at are synonyms? Either way, it’s too closely related not to be in this list!)

شاهَدَ / يُشاهِدُ / المُشاهَدة

a form III verb meaning to watch/see/view/inspect

راقَبَ / يُراقِبُ / المُراقَبة

another form III verb: to watch/observe/monitor, to keep an eye on, supervise

عايَنَ / يُعايِنُ / المُعايَنة

obviously, this form III verb comes from the same root as عَين (eye) and means to eye/view/see

حَدَّقَ / يُحَدِّقُ / التَّحديق

this form II verb means: to look, glance, gaze, stare

it can be followed by any one of these prepositions, translating to “at”: إلى, في, or بـ

the dictionary mentions a collocation too:

  • حدّق النّظر في = to fix one’s glance on

حَدَّجَ / يُحَدِّجُ / التَّحديج

it looks like this form II verb and the one above are word twins!

it means to stare or to look sharply at, and may be followed by بِبَصَرِه or بِنَظَرِه (with one’s sight)

بَحلَقَ / يُبَحلِقُ / البَحلَقة

we covered this form I, quadriliteral verb in Wehr Wednesdays #65!

the phrase بحلق عَينَيه في means to stare/gaze at

(p.s. you can check out more quadriliteral verbs we’ve covered on the blog here, and take a look at this quadriliteral verb form table if you’re interested)

حَملَقَ / يُحَملِقُ / الحَملَقة

another form I quadriliteral (which also shares the root letters ح-ل-ق with the one above) here—حملق في/بـ means to stare/gaze at

لَمَحَ / يَلمَحُ / الَّمح

this form I verb can mean to glance at (with or without إلى), or to see/notice

the form III verb from the same root—لامَحَ / يُلامِحُ / المُلامَحة—means to cast a casual or furtive glance at

and the form IV verb— أَلمَحَ / يُلمِحُ / الإلماح—also means to glance casually at or to give a quick look, cast a hasty glance at—this verb can be used with or without إلى before the object

تَطَلَّعَ / يَتَطَلَّعُ / التَّطَلُّع إلى

this form V verb not only means to look at or to watch for, it also means to aspire for

خَزَرَ / يَخزُرُ / الخَزر

a form I verb meaning to look askance at, to give someone a side-long glance

notice how خَزر and شَزر (mentioned as part of the collocation with نظر) are word twins too!

تَوَسَّمَ / يَتَوَسَّمُ / التَّوَسُّم

…and our last verb on the list is a form V one meaning to look at, watch closely or to scrutinise!

Ah, don’t you feel refreshed too after reading all these cool words? How many of them did you know beforehand?

I also came across the verb بَصبَصَ in the dictionary while writing this post—apparently an Egyptian word meaning “to ogle” or “cast amorous glances”!

(Edit: check out Wehr Wednesdays #83 for another synonym to add to this list—it’s a quadriliteral too!)

See you on my next post, مع السلامة!

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