Arabic Synonyms Meaning “Resistance”


root: ث-ل-ج / noun / plural: ثُلوج / definition: snow, ice

I couldn’t resist wrapping up in all my layers this morning around sunrise to venture out into the garden and ramble through the thick snow blanketing the decking.

My mum handed me some dried remnants of the floral arrangements we’ve had displayed around the house since last month to stick into the somewhat-vase-shaped snowball I had made on the garden table, with some desiccated red rose petals falling picturesquely onto the surrounding white snow.

I couldn’t resist a childish frolic in this winter scenery, but the Arabic dictionary is full of resistance.

You can read into that in many ways, I’m sure, but what I’m referring to here is the dictionary’s multiple entries that carry the meaning of “resistance”. Let’s take a look at some of them:


root: ق-و-م

Here we have the form III verbal noun (مصدر), associated with the verb قاوَمَ / يُقاوِمُ (“to resist”).

From the passive form of this verb, we get the phrase لا يُقاوَم meaning “irresistible” (literally: “it is not, or cannot be, resisted”).

There are lots of other interesting derivatives of the root ق-و-م, like the abstract noun قَوميّة (“nationalism”) from the noun قَوم (“a people, nation”), قيمة (“value”), and قِيام (“rising, standing”).

It’s interesting to think about the connotations مُقاوَمة carries in light of its fellow root derivatives, no?


root: ن-ه-ض

مناهضة is another form III verbal noun, with its corresponding verb being ناهَضَ / يُناهِضُ which has a lot of meanings, including: to rise, tackle, support, prepare, etc.

This verb has a lot of interesting collocations actually, take a look at them here in the Hans Wehr. And the active participle (اسم فاعل) derived from the verb is مُناهِض, “resistance fighter”.

You might recognise the root from one of its other derivatives, النَّهْضة, which refers to the Arab renaissance period and can also be translated as “awakening”.


root: ع-ر-ض

Yep, it’s another form III verbal noun, this time of the verb عارَضَ / يُعارِضُ (“to resist, oppose”).

ع-ر-ض is one of those roots with pages of derivatives—great for a very long Root Exploration post! But one that caught my eye was مِعْراض which occurs in the (can I say “interesting” again?) phrase قالَ في مِعراضِ كَلامِهِ (“to mention casually”).

Most derivatives of the root are related to either “showing” or “opposing”.


root: ن-و-ء

You guessed it—a form III verbal noun once more. Although I should probably point out here that this isn’t really a surprise because form III verbs generally carry the meaning of doing something to someone/something else. And resistance is always towards someone/something else.

مناوأة is from the hamzated root ن-و-ء and the corresponding verb is ناوَأَ / يُناوِئُ (you can work out which “seat” to put the hamza on using the flowchart I made here) which means “to resist, defy”.

Under the entry of the verb in the Hans Wehr (which you can find out how to use in this post!), we also find the phrase ناوَأَهُ العَداءَ, “to be hostile to someone”.

And for those who remember as far back as Wehr Wednesdays #62 (imagine…), the verb in the phrase ناءَ بِكَلكَلِه is the form I verb of the root ن-و-ء!


root: ص-م-د

And… we’ve made it out of the sea of form III verbal nouns for this last one in the list!

صُمود is still a verbal noun actually, but from the form I verb صَمَدَ / يَصمُدُ—meaning “to brave, withstand, resist in the face of (في وجه)” and “to hold one’s ground against (أمام)”.

From this root, we also get the words صَمَد and صَمْداني, both meaning “eternal” or “everlasting”.

The roots tell you a lot about the essence of resistance, right?

And, as always, this list isn’t extensive and there are definitely more synonyms out there!

If you liked this post, don’t forget to check out the other synonym posts on this blog, like the previous one: Six Arabic Words for “Ocean” or “Sea”.

!في أمان الله

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