You might know the name Hussein, also spelled Hussayn or Hussain. In Arabic, it is written like this: حُسَيْن. It literally means small beauty.

The diminutive in Arabic

Forms like حُسَيْن are called diminutive, so called: تَصْغِير. Diminutives are used for Arabic names and are common in Arabic.

Some patterns and examples.

Pattern فُعَيْلٌ

Derived from a اِسْم that consists in total of three letters (here, as always, we don’t mean 3 root letters)

door بابٌ   small door بُوَيْبٌ
child وَلَدٌ small child وُلَيْدٌ
river نَهْرٌ small river نُهَيْرٌ

Notice: Also adverbs of place or time follow this pattern: قَبْلَ – قُبَيْلَ (shortly before) and بَعْدَ – بُعَيْدَ (shortly after)

Pattern فُعَيْلِلٌ

When the original noun consists in total of four letters (again, we don’t mean 4 root letters!)

friend صاحِبٌ   small friend صُوَيْحِبٌ

Feminine nouns

They have a ة and follow the rules of number 2.

If the original noun is feminine but does not have a ة, the dimin­utive will take a ة (e.g. market)

drop نُقْطةٌ droplet نُقْيَطةٌ
market سُوقٌ small market سُوَيْقةٌ

Pattern فُعَيِّلٌ

This pattern is used when the original اِسْم is of this form: The second letter of the اِسْم is fol­lowed by a long vowel.

book كِتابٌ   small book كُتَيِّبٌ
small صَغِيرٌ tiny صُغَيِّرٌ

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Picture credit: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Last updated: Jun 15, 2020 @ 8:30


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