Learn Arabic: The Million-Word Language

January 26, 2019 3 By Christina

It’s tough to fathom how many words a language has. It takes tons of study by lingual
eggheads to get the numbers, and the results can be staggering. Let’s look at Arabic language, for
example. Spoken by over 400 million people , this Semitic language is the world’s 5th
most widely-spoken language. With a rich range of dialects and over a thousand years
of history, it also boasts a ridiculous word count.

Palestine-based Arabic language centre, SEBIL centre, calculates:

• Arabic: 12.3 million words.
• English: 600,000 words. • French: 150,000 words.
• Russian: 130,000 words.

That means that Arabic has 20 times the words of English. Imagine that!

The language is so large that some argue that Arabic is simply an umbrella term for a group of
languages. There’s Classical Arabic (Fusha) used in media, or Colloquial Arabic (‘Aamiya)
used everyday, for example. However, if we take all of these as dialects of one massive
language, then our numbers hold.

Let’s delve deeper into where all these words come from.


11 Words for Love in Arabic Language

Something for the romantics out there. People might see their European language as a
playground for poetic expression, but it’s nothing compared to Arabic’s 11 ways to
express love. According to the British Council, some of them breakdown the different
stages of love:

  • Hawa: the initial attraction to another.
  • Alaaqa: when the heart begins to fix itself to the beloved.
  • Ishq: lust, and blind desire.
  • Shaghaf: Complete, all-encompassing love.
  • Huyum: When you lose all reason.


Compared to English’s fairly paltry options of ‘fall in love’ / ‘be in love’, this wonderful
collection adds new levels of nuance to romance talk.


Only in Arabic Language: Hundreds of Words For Camel 



This may sound like a stereotypical slur, but it’s true. For what we can assume to be for
practical purposes, Arabic speakers can describe camels in insane detail. For example,
there are words for ‘a baggage camel’, ‘a camel that drinks once every 3 days’, ‘a camel
that is frightened by anything’ and even ‘A camel that is obese due to abundance of
fodder or grass’.

So, if you’d like to practise your Arabic on holiday, be sure to study up on your
terminology before approaching the camel handler.


Link to English: Some Bits From Arabic Language

With such a thesaurus-busting vocabulary, it’s no surprise that English takes a lot from
Arabic. Here’re some common words that come from it:

  • Average: from Old French, avarie, which is from the Arabic term for ‘damaged goods’.
  • Algebra: from ‘jabara’, meaning to reunite or restore.
  • Alcohol: from ‘al-kuhl’.
  • Coffee: from ‘qahwa’.

They’re just a few examples of how Arabic influenced English and, in turn, European
languages. Arabic not only has a new alphabet to explore, but a wonderful world of
words that’ll give you fresh ways to express yourself.


Are You interested to start your journey into learning this wonderful language? Even though the journey seems quite challenging, there are fast and easy ways to learn a foreign language.

Book a Course of Arabic on lonet.academy with our best teachers.

Choose a native professional Arabic language teacher for your one-on-one on-line class here.