Affinity to Quadriliterals


root: ج-ذ-ب / verbal noun of form VII / definition: affinity, attraction

I have such an affinity to Arabic quadriliterals (four-letter roots). Are there really that many in the dictionary that they can’t be ignored, or are my eyes just drawn to them whenever they’re present on the page?

Either way, I usually task myself with noting them down when they pop up, as though creating my own mini dictionary of quadriliterals that will set sail in my ocean of vocab notes, never to be seen again.

Here are some of the quadriliteral nouns, adjectives, and participles I’ve added to my collection recently—all of which coincidentally contain either ع or غ:


root: م-ع-م-ع


meaning: raging, roar, climax

م-ع-م-ع is an example of a “doubled” root.


root: غ-ل-غ-ل

active participle of the form II quadriliteral

meaning: deeply embedded, profound

Quadriliterals have forms? Yes, yes they do.

I also have a post about the active participle patterns for the different quadriliteral verb forms. Only check it out if you can handle the excitement of quadriliterals, verb forms, and participles in one post.

You’ll notice too that غ-ل-غ-ل is another example of a doubled root.


root: غ-م-ل-ج


meaning: fickle, unstable


root: ع-ن-ج-ه


meaning: self-importance, pride

This root follows another quadriliteral one in the dictionary: ع-ن-ت-ر. So much fun in a single column, how do we contain ourselves?!


root: ع-ج-ر-ف


meaning: presumption, arrogance


root: غ-ن-د-ر


meaning: chubby


root: ع-ن-ع-ن

plural noun

meaning: traditions

There’s an adjective from this root (actually, a form I passive participle), مُعَنعَن, meaning “handed down”.

Remember that doubled roots often have meanings associated with repetition, so عنعنات refers to practices handed down to new generations, time and time again.


root: ص-ع-ل-ك


meaning: loitering


root: ب-ع-ز-ق

verbal noun of the form I verb

meaning: scattering, squandering

And with that, we end on the same dictionary page as one of my favourite quirky quadriliterals, the form II verb تَبَغدَدَ, meaning “to behave like someone from Baghdad”!

I wonder how many, if any, of the quadriliterals above are compound quadriliterals, which are derived from the merging of two distinct triliteral (three-letter) roots. That’s something to add to my to-research list (immediately superseding my dissertation topic, obviously).

Don’t forget to check out last week’s Arabic Observations and Wehr Wednesdays posts, and I’ll see you on my next post!

!مع السلامة

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