Three Arabic Words for “Obstacle”

صَعْب

root: ص-ع-ب / adjective / definition: difficult


Last week’s Wehr Wednesdays post included an Arabic word meaning “obstacle”, which is just one of those words that you’ll use frequently when writing Arabic essays or the like. So I thought why not look at three of the most common Arabic translations for it here?

Interestingly, all three begin with ع—I wonder if that’s because the ع poses an obstacle in the way of mastering Arabic pronunciation… The word صعب (“difficult”) has an ع too, in the middle.

Anyway, here they are, with their plural forms too:


عَقَبة / ـات

Here’s the one we saw in the phrase from Wehr Wednesdays #101.

Don’t confuse it with the similar sounding عاقِبة/عَواقِب (“outcome”) or عُقوبة/ـات (“punishment”).


عائِقة / عَوائِق

This one’s from the root ع-و-ق, from which we get the form I and form IV verbs (عاقَ/يَعوقُ and أَعاقَ/يُعيقُ, respectively) which both mean “to hinder” or “impede”—also useful to know when writing Arabic essays.


عَرْقَلة / عَراقيل

Ahh, a quadriliteral! عرقلة is from the four-letter root ع-ر-ق-ل.


There are two other common words for “obstacle”:

  • حاجِز / حَواجِز (which we use in the phrase حاجز لُغَوي, “language barrier”)
  • مانِع / مَوانِع (another one with the letter ع in it!)

If you’re interested in expanding your mental lexicon further, check out the other posts in the synonyms series—and don’t miss out on last week’s post about how to form words with the “re-” prefix!

!إلى اللقاء



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