Solidarity and Coming Together: Seven Verbal Nouns in Arabic


root: ك-ر-ث / noun / plural: كَوارِث / definition: catastrophe

We’ve all no doubt heard about the earthquakes that struck this week, affecting parts of Türkiye and Syria. And perhaps most of us have seen photos and videos of the catastrophic consequences.

Alongside the horrors, we’ve also seen people coming together and joining forces to help and, even from afar, people standing in solidarity.

Here’s a collection of form VI verbal nouns (مصادر) that can be used to express these concepts:


root: ض-م-ن

meaning: solidarity, joint responsibility

The root ض-م-ن centres around responsibility, safeguarding, and inclusion.

We saw the form V verb from this root, تَضَمَّنَ/يَتَضَمَّن, in Five Arabic Verbs for “to Include”.

We might hear تضامن being used in the phrase تضامناً مع, meaning “in solidarity with”.


root: ك-ت-ف

meaning: solidarity, standing together

تكاتف is related to the noun كَتِف (plural: أَكتاف) meaning “shoulder”. So تكاتف literally means “standing shoulder-to-shoulder”.


root: ض-ف-ر

meaning: coming together, helping one another

The root ض-ف-ر gives rise to words related to braiding and intertwining: separate strands coming together to form something stronger.

You might notice that تضافر is very similar to another form VI verbal noun: تظافر, meaning “to join forces, to ally”. (Possible word twins?)


root: ع-ض-د

meaning: assisting one another, cooperation

From the same root, we get عَضُد, meaning both “upper arm” (when feminine, like all body parts that come in pairs) and “strength” (when masculine).

You’ll find some interesting collocations involving عضد in the dictionary.

Note that تكاتف was related to “shoulder” and تعاضد is related to “upper arm”. Also, تظافر (but not تضافر) comes from the same root as the word for “fingernail”.


root: ء-ز-ر

meaning: assisting one another, joining forces, coordination

أَزر, from the same root, means “strength”. We’ll find this word in the phrase شَدَّ أَزرَهُ (alternatively, شَدَّ مِن أَزرِهِ): “to support or back someone up”.

This phrase is similar to شَدّ عَضُدَه (“to support someone”), one of the collocations I was referring to above.


root: ع-و-ن

meaning: cooperation, helping one another

The root ع-و-ن is entirely related to “help”.

I’ve actually just come across an interesting word from this root: مِعوان, “one who helps frequently” or “a reliable stand-by”.

مِعوان is in one of the typical “instrument” patterns (a post for another day?): مِفعال.


root: ك-ف-ل

meaning: solidarity, mutual responsibility

ك-ف-ل gives rise to a number of verbs and nouns related to support, provision, and responsibility.

And with that, we express our solidarity with all those affected by the recent disasters.

.في أمان الله

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