Arabic words incorrectly used in Urdu

Discussion in 'Language Notes' started by Noori, Apr 4, 2017.

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  1. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    subh'an Allah, mashaAllah, wa jazakAllahu khayra.

    my bad! :(
    sidi, you have very well proved that I am the poorest guy at Urdu language. :)
  2. abu Hasan

    abu Hasan Administrator

    with apologies to noori bhai, on this issue i am with abu nibras bhai. as it is an interesting topic i will say something, though i find it extremely discomforting to contradict noori bhai. particularly as he speaks a far superior version of urdu than we do.

    perhaps because we are both together in our ghurbat of faSeeH urdu,* or that my manTiq may appear ghaleez for the mazaaq of some; pardon me if i sound naqli.

    [ghurbat=poverty; faSeeH=eloquent; manTiq=speech; ghaleez=coarse; mazaaq=taste; naqli=phony].

    *the northies usually scorn us for our qadeem urdu and we sound phunny to them rather than phony, if you excuse the phun.


    words are adapted and after being in currency for sometime and when used by writers and learned people, become part of the language.

    while google might be a company, it has now gained status as a verb for 'internet search' - you may not 'yahoo' a term or 'altavista' a concept, but you will certainly google something...or anything.

    most of the words below cannot be reverted to their original meaning in their original language. these words were borrowed and adapted and naturalised; then, the words were used by masters of the language, indicating that usage of such words is acceptable.

    i think ammi and abbu are not from the arabic constructs, but are similar to modifications of names in affection or words in child-speak. while amma and abba are the proper words - ammi and abbu are used by millions of kids without realising that they might be violating the rules of an alien language.

    if you apply strict rules of going-back-roots, it is not just urdu or english, even arabic will be rid of half its vocabulary; words derived from other words as metaphor or allegory to even corruptions of words which have eventually become part of standard usage.

    urdu dictionaries identify these words in these meanings as acceptable to use in urdu.

    julus - eid al-julus means the day of coronation (lit. sitting of the king/ruler on the throne). perhaps, there used to be processions on such a day and eventually, the word julus itself was used to mean a 'procession'. so in urdu, in addition to sitting (also nishist) the word is also used in other connotations.


    mazaq - as a joke, dil-lagi, THaTTa, tamaskhur. in addition to taste, as in the source language.


    while we are at mazaq - what about laTifah?

    i dunno for sure, but someone told me that since laTifah has a subtle meaning or a subtle twist in it, which causes you to laugh, it came to be used as a synonym for a 'joke'.

    ghaleez - dirty or filthy. dense, viscous,

    perhaps derived from najasat e ghalizah meaning - deemed extremely filthy and the ruling concerning it is stricter.


    ummi/ammi - incidentally, ummi in urdu is used for illiterate. i am sure, few urdu speaking children may know or realise that the 'yaa' is used as a personal pronoun in arabic.
    according to the dictionary, ammi means walidah.


    abuh/abbu - abba is what we called our father. but abbu is common nowadays. and certainly it is not with a trailing haa to indicate, "his father". it is like abu: 'father' without specifying whose.


    ghareeb - while in arabic it means strange, unusual, outlandish, quaint, abnormal, extraordinary or alien, foreigner; in urdu it is used predominantly for a poor person, or miskeen.


    alahazrat says:

    hum gharibon ke aaqa pe be-Had durud

    paaltey hi gharib ko
    incidentally the word miskeen in arabic is used as a metaphor for a poor man. it comes from the root s-k-n (sakana) meaning 'that which has lost its motion' [dhahabat Harakatuhu] or 'become motionless, stationary' [qarra, istaqarra, thabata].

    now, maskan - meaning dwelling comes from establishing oneself, or becoming steady (sukun, imam raghib says: 'thubut al-shayy ba'ad al-Harakah'/ a thing becoming steady after having been in motion). in the language of hijaz it is maskan similar to maq'ad; and also rarely pronounced as maskin similar to manzil.

    sakn are the people living in the house.

    sakan also means fire. because one is comforted by it [yusta'nasu biha] and therefore [fire] is also named mu'nisah [مؤنسة] and this is an allegorical meaning [majaz].

    sakan also means mercy and blessing [raHmah, barakah] as said in the verse 103 of surah tawbah:

    tawbah, v103.png

    miskeen is another allegorical meaning. that is "poverty has immobilised him [askanahu]" or reduced his activity [qallala Harakatahu].

    miskin, taj v35p200.png

    miskeen is also used to mean weak, vulnerable, feeble, debilitated. it is said that a miskeen is worse off than a faqeer.

    thus a faqeer is a poor man, and a miskeen is a destitute.

    miskin, taj v35p200b.png

    sakinah - it tranquillity. removal of disturbing thoughts and feelings. [Tuma'ninah]

    miskeenah - is the name of madinah al-nabawiyyah, may salutations and blessings of Allah ta'ala be upon he who dwells there [sakiniha]. ibn sidah said: 'i don't know why it is named thus, except perhaps for its bereavement upon the departure of the Prophet sallAllahu alayhi wa sallam. fayruzabadi in his "al-maghanim al-mustaTabah fi a'alami Taabah" has mentioned it as one of the names.

    majduddin fayruzabadi [729-817AH] is the author of the original al-qamus upon which taj al-arus is expanded. this lastly mentioned book is printed with a slightly different name: al-maghanim al-muTabah fi ma'alami Taabah which is not the full book. PDF can be found here:

    madiney ke khittey khuda tujh ko rakh'he
    ghariboN faqeeroN ke taHraney waaley

    [here taHrana is used as maskan, and an allusion to miskeenah being madeenah; and gharibon-faqiroN is used in both meanings; gharib as a synonym of faqir and gharib as a stranger, a traveller visiting madinah.]

    Allah ta'ala knows best.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  3. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    it is not only the difference in meaning but also the origin sometimes.

    for example, perhaps, the pronoun "Tum" (You) is probably derived from attached pronoun for masculine plural in Arabic such as tum in أكلتم (akaltum) - you all ate. i am sure it is not derived from Farsi.
  4. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    wa alaykumussalam wa rah'matullah,

    jazakAllahu khayra hazrat.

    I agree, for many words, we can accept that they are correct in their current usage such as Ammy, Abboo/Abba, Juloos, Sabeel etc; however, in many cases, it will be termed as incorrect usages such as Faseeh, Mazaaq, and Ghaleez etc. it is my personal opinion, and I might be wrong.

    my father was very scrupulous in using words and adaab; he always used to catch us if we used a wrong word and object on using abbu and other words. as for adaab, he never let us eat bare head, or drink water while standing, or say 'bartan utha lo' after meal, rather he used to say 'bartan barha lo'.

    baaqi apni zabaan hay jaisay chahain taaNg toraiN :)
    N-Sunni likes this.
  5. abu nibras

    abu nibras Staff Member

    As salam alaykum sahib,

    Urdu has been there long enough and these words in urdu are correct by usage over centuries.

    This exercise of compiling differences in meaning might be mildly amusing for native speakers but there is barely any need to stop using these words with adapted meanings. These changes are organic adaptations which are common to all derivative languages.

    These words carry different meaning in both languages which may or may not be related. So it's not incorrect but different by usage.

    If you compile such a list for Latin root languages you will conclude that a large corpus of English words are not precise.

    I would rather say that it is different and acknowledge it.

    Aur yeh gharib koi mazaaq nahin kar raha. :)
    Adam Yahya, N-Sunni and Noori like this.
  6. Abu Tuhr

    Abu Tuhr New Member

    I thought juloos was named as such, due to the gathering at the end. If one didn't know the meaning of the arabic word then it is understandable why the rally would be assumed to be intended - a difference in the technical and urfi connotation of the word.
  7. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    منطِق : Mantiq - Logic, Reasoning - both in Arabic and Urdu, but usually people pronounce it as Mantaq, with a fath on letter taa, which is wrong. However, wrong pronunciations are very common; there is a long list. most of them are easy to correct if people know common arabic infitive (masdar) forms such as Istifa'al (إستفعال), iftia'al ((إفتعال), infia'al (إنفعال), ifa'al (إفعال), and mufaa'lah (مفاعله). Mufti akmal has written a small and good book on this subject - talaffuz durust keejiay (correct your pronunciation), therefore, there is no need to list ONLY incorrect pronunciations of Arabic words.
  8. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    considering its meaning of audience and attendees juloos will be correct to use for a gathering, but for a rally, it doesn't sound right.
  9. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    Yes, true, but now in urdu this connection is not considered, and used for resident poor person.
  10. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    no, it is used to describe the group of participants, not the onlookers.
  11. Aqdas

    Aqdas Staff Member

    Maybe as onlookers would sit and watch the julus go by.
  12. Aqdas

    Aqdas Staff Member

    This one is linked.

    Usually the travellers would be poor so the word has become synonymous.
  13. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    رديء : Radi' - Bogus, Worthless, Inferior, Fake, Rotten; in Urdu it is commonly used for waste (kachra, kaath kabaaD) only, and incorrectly pronounced as ردّی (raddee).
  14. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    فصيح : Faseeh - Eloquent, Fluent, Well-spoken; in Urdu common people THINK that it means archaic and rhymed, full of difficult and classical words, which is actually مُسجّع (musajja'a) and مُقفّع (muqaffa'a).
  15. AMQadiri

    AMQadiri Seeker

    Do you mean 'My uncle' in Arabic and 'My mother' in Urdu?

    Nevermind. Uncle is عم
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
  16. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    نقل : Naql - Move, Transfer in Arabic; sometime people use it to mean 'cheating' or a copy as in 'naqli'.
    N-Sunni likes this.
  17. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    خال : Khaloo - Maternal Uncle (mamuN) in Arabic; in Urdu it is used for husband of Khalah (husband of mother's sister).

    the spelling is also incorrect in Urdu. it is written as خالو which is incorrect, because in Arabic there is a dhamma/paish in the state of rafa' (being subject, starting word[mubtada'] etc)
  18. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    سبيل : Sabeel - Path, Way in Arabic; in Urdu usually people mean it to be a stand for giving water and other foods in charity
    N-Sunni likes this.
  19. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    غريب : Ghareeb - Stranger, Foreigner in Arabic; Poor, Destitute, Penniless in Urdu.
  20. Noori

    Noori Senior Moderator

    let us complie a list of Arabic words/phrases which people use incorrectly, or for wrong meanings. I always forget to note down, therefore i am creating this thread.

    مذاق : Mazaaq - in Arabic it means taste, but in Urdu it is commonly used as joke, the correct word should be mazaah (مزاح)

    غليظ : Ghaleez - Thick, Dense, Harsh in Arabic, in Urdu usually people use it to mean very dirty specially when people say 'bohat/nihayat ghaleez'.

    أُمّى : Ummy - 'My mother' in Arabic, but people use it incorrectly as 'tumhari ammy ka kia naam hay?' (What is the name of your Ammy?). in Urdu it has been changed to Ammy, with a fath on alif (which is actually hamzah).

    أبوه : 'his father' in Arabic, it has become Abboo in Urdu (haa removed) to mean my father as in expression 'mairay abboo ka naam...' (my father's name).

    جُلُوس : Juloos - in Arabic it means Sitting, Audience, Attendees, but in Urdu it is used to mean a procession.

    will add more when i recall or come across more words.

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