Three Ways to Say “Bloodshed” in Arabic


root: د-م / noun / plural: دِماء / definition: blood

Yes, yes, I know this word seems quite specific compared to the others in the synonyms series, but that’s why I was so interested when I found three Arabic phrases for the English term “bloodshed”.

And—in all honestly, and quite unfortunately—with the topics universities often get us to write and read about for Arabic classes (war, colonialism, violent clashes, etc.), terms like this are useful to know for students.

All three Arabic phrases are إضافة constructions, with the second word in each being دِماء (the plural of دَم, “blood”):

إراقة الدِّماء

إراقة is the verbal noun (مصدر) from the form IV verb أراقَ/يُريقُ, from the root ر-و-ق. The verb means “to spill, shed” or “to make something flow”.

The Hans Wehr also gives us the phrase أراق ماء وجهه under the verb, which means “to lose all respect”. We actually came across this phrase in Root Exploration: م-و-ه.

سَفْك الدِّماء

سَفك is the مصدر of the form I verb سَفَكَ/يَسفِكُ, directly meaning “to shed blood”.

From the same root, some other verbs are derived:

  • form VI: تَسافَكَ/يَتَسافَكُ: “to murder each other”
  • form VII: اِنسَفَكَ/يَنسَفِكُ: “(for blood) to be shed” or “(for blood) to flow”

سَفْح الدِّماء

Okay, so this one’s not as common as the other two as far as I can tell (?). But notice that سَفح is also only a one-letter change from سَفك… meaning that they’re word twins!

Again, سَفح is a form I مصدر—the verb سَفَحَ/يَسفَحُ means “to shed, spill” or “to pour out”.

Note that سَفح also refers to the foot of a mountain, so be mindful of the context!

So there’s some more synonyms to top up your mental lexicons. Have you come across any other specific terms which have multiple Arabic equivalents?

See you on my next post, إلى اللقاء!

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