Arabic Language Blog

Definite Nouns المعارف : Proper Nouns اسم العلم Posted by on Mar 19, 2011 in Arabic Language, Culture, Grammar, Vocabulary

  • As we discussed in the last post that Definite nouns have Seven Types, today we are going to look closely at one of them.

(1) The Proper Noun اسم العلم

The Proper Noun is the definite noun that refers to a specific name of someone or something or some place. It is the given name and it does not need any other word or syllable to be added to specify it. It is definite by itself.


                                           – Mohammad محمد                         – Zeinab زينب 

                                          – Abo-Bakr أبو بكر                            – Om-Kolthoom أم كلثوم 

                                          – Cairo القاهرة                                  – London لندن 

                                          – Egypt مصر                                    – England انجلترا 

                                          – Bosbos بسبس (cat name)         – Meesho ميشو (dog name)

* Types of Proper Nouns أنواع اسم العلم :

      – There are three types of proper nouns in Arabic.     

 (1) Kunyah الكنية  :

       – It is every compound name that starts with أب (father of) or أم (Mother of).

       – It refers to a (w)man’s first born son or daughter.

       – The Kunyah serves as a substitute of the name of the person.

       – It can also precede or follow the name .


                             – Abo-Al-Hassan أبو الحسن            – Abo-Hafs (عمر) أبو حفص 

                             – Om-Kolthoom أم كلثوم                 – Om-Romaan أم رومان

(2) Laqab اللقب  :

        – It is the name (nickname) given to someone for the sake of praise or disdain.

        – It usually tells about the personality or appearance of the person.

        – The Laqab usually comes after the name of the person unless the Laqab is famous.

        – The laqab can also, refer to places or animals.    


                              – (Haroon) Al-Rasheed الرشيد   = (هارون  The Sane 

                              – (Fatimah) Al-Zahra’a الزهراء 

                              – Al-Aadel العادل  (The Fair) 

                              – Al-Jaahez’  الجاحظ                          

                              – Al-Motanabby المتنبى 

                              – (Issa) Al-Messiah المسيح  = المسيح عيسى = عيسى المسيح  

                              – (Paris) The City of Light باريس) مدينة النور )

(3) Name الاسم  :

        – It is the formal name given by parents to their child and used in documents.

        – It can be a single name (one word)  or a compound name (two words).  

        . It is neither a laqab nor a kunyah.

        – A lot of the Arabic names have a religious background.        


                                     – Soliman سليمان                – Sanaa’ سناء  

                                    – Mohammad محمد            – Ali على  

                                   – Ahmad أحمد                     – A’ishah عائشة

                                   – Sarah سارة                       – Zeinab زينب  

                                   – Abd-Allaah عبد الله   = Servant of God

                                   – Abd-Al-Rahmaan عبد الرحمن  = Servant of the Compassionate One

                                   – Salah-Addeen صلاح الدين  


 Note (1) Most Proper Nouns are for persons.

Note (2) There is also the Proper Noun of Gender which refers to a species or class,

e.g. Osama = Lion &  Pharaoh = Ruler of Ancient Egypt & Caesar = Ruler of the Roman Empire.

Note (3) Nisba or Nasab Nouns will be studied later.


Next time, we will continue looking at Definite Nouns starting with (AL-)

Check us back soon

Peace سلام   /Salam/

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About the Author: Fisal

Well, I was born near the city of Rasheed or Rosetta, Egypt. Yes, the city where the Rosetta Stone was discovered. It is a small city on the north of Egypt where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. I am a Teacher of EFL.


  1. David:

    Fisel, can you answer questions about case endings concerning Arabic proper nouns ?
    If you say yes I will send questions to you.
    Regards, David

    • Fisal:

      @David Sure David. Send your questions.

  2. Abdurrahman:

    How do you say count nouns and mass nouns in Arabic

    • Fisal:

      @Abdurrahman Countable Nouns = الأسماء المعدودة
      Mass (Collective) Nouns = أسماء الجُموع

  3. Ahsan Sharif:

    I just wanted to know whether Quran and zamzam are ism alam or not…plz help..