Useful Arabic Phrases Meaning “Tantamount to”


root: ع-ك-س / form I verb / present tense: يَعكِسُ / definition: to reflect

I was toying with the title Fancy Ways to Say “Is” in Arabic for this post—which would have been reflective of the content, albeit a little ambiguous.

Nevertheless, the phrases we’re going to look at in this post which—by dictionary definition—mean “tantamount to” are often simply translated as “is”.

For us, as students, this essentially means that we can sound more sophisticated (and give tiny boosts to our word counts!) by slotting in these phrases.

So the first phrase is…

عِبارة عَن

We’ve seen this phrase previously, in the post Small but Useful Arabic Phrases That You Need To Know.

It’s probably the most common of the three phrases in this post—or, at least, the one I hear most often.


مَجموعةُ قِصَصِهِ عِبارةٌ عن دَعوةِ إلى التَّمَرُّد

his collection of stories is a call to rebellion

Then we have…


This phrase (which we previously encountered in this post) is comprised of the preposition بِـ plus the noun مَثابة (meaning “manner” or “mode”) from the root ث-و-ب.

Note that مثابة forms an إضافة with the following word.


اُعتُبِرَت القَضِيّةُ بِمَثابةِ كارِثةٍ إنسانيّة

the case was considered a humanitarian crisis

And finally…

كِناية عَن

We explored this phrase many Wehr Wednesdays ago

كِناية means “indirect expression” or “metonymy”. (*Just having a flashback to the time I had to write a whole essay about the word “cat”—I’m not joking—at university and discuss metonymy and collocations and phraseology and…*)


بِالنِّسبةِ لَهُم، كانت تَصَرُّفاتُهُ كِنايةً عن نِداءِ اِستِغاثة

as far as they were concerned, his behaviour was a call for help

As I mentioned in the post Four Simple Tips to Improve Your Essay Writing Skills in Arabic, learning these “copy and paste” phrases that you can use in a wide variety of contexts is a great way to make writing in Arabic less stressful and to make you sound more fluent!

For more phrases like this, check out the small but useful phrases series, to which I’ll be adding more posts soon!

!مع السلامة

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