The Sneakiness of the Letter Ghayn

I was watching a lecture by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on youtube, which can be seen here. In it, he mentions that many of the meanings of words that begin with Ghayn (غ) have to do with betrayal, obscurity, leaving, covering over, the unknown, evil, and other words of this nature. Just a general black cloud upon it, like if the alphabet was Middle Earth, Ghayn is Mordor. So I cracked out the Hans Wehr, and decided to see how true this is. The letter Ghayn does not have a large section, comparatively, in Hans Wehr, so the fact that there are so many words that conform to this connotation is evident of a deeper, hidden treachery concealed behind Ghayn’s open-mouthed and otherwise welcoming demeanor. Incidentally, many words have love-related meanings as well, in their derived forms: seduction, temptation, swooning, flirtation are seen as a slippery slope, beset on all sides by Shaitan’s presence.

She dwells in the back of your throat, the subtle and rolling rumble only a voiced velar fricative can give. Because of where Ghayn emerges from, and this connotation, I imagine her personified as Oscar the Grouch. Oscar the Ghhhraaouch.

Here is the list i came up with.

غبر/ غبار – dust/ to cover with dust

غبش – darkness, “the twilight before sunrise”

غبشة – opaque

غبن – to defraud, cheat, dupe.

غبو / غبى – to not understand, to be ignorant.

غبي – stupid

غتّ – to submerge, immerse

غثي – To confuse, muddle, jumble.

غدر – To act treacherously, perfidiously, betray etc

غادر – To leave [so betrayal is when one turns away from his loyalties and leaves to the loyalty of other parties.]

(غدو (غدا – to leave (one of كان’s sisters)

غرّ- to mislead, deceive (form VIII to be blinded, fooled, unexpected)

غرور – dillusion

غرر – hazard

غرارة – thoughtlessness

غرب – To go away, to be a stranger or obscure entity, to be difficult to comprehend.

غربة- Melancholy loneliness felt when outside one’s homeland. Good Al Kitaab word for ya.

غريب – Strange, obscure.

مغرّب – Banished, exiled.

غرض – To have a bias.

تغرض – Biased, partial.

مغرض – Person with ~

غرق- To drown, be submerged

اغراق -Scuttling (of a ship), sinking, [also “hyperbole” – ie inundated with exaggeration to the point of sinking]

مغرق – Immersed, engrossed

غرم – Damage, loss

غرا – Tempt, seduce

اغراء – Instigation, temptation, allurement

مغريات – Temptations

غزّ – To be thorny

غزل – The English word Gazelle comes from the Arabic ghazal, same meaning. But Ghazzal, in English and Arabic has a poetic meaning, a type of poem, check the link. The connection is thus: The style of poetic expression that many ghazzals use is said to evoke a melancholy lovesick feeling. So as a verb, the three letters, ghayn zai lam, means, according to my teacher in Jordan: “the melancholy whimper of a doe cornered by hunters.” [Side note: this is one of my favorite anecdotes when it comes to Arabic connotations]

مغازلة – Flirtation

غزو- Invade

غزوة – Invasion

غازية – Female dancer, danseuse (hmm.)

غس – Worthless

عش – To defraud, cheat, act dishonestly

غش – corruption, deceit

غشاش – Fraud, deceiver, swindler, imposter

من غشنا فليس منّا – A hadith saying “whoever cheats us isn’t one of us.” This is really useful (i’ve found) to bust out when someone is trying to rip you off because you’re a foreigner.

غشم – To treat wrongly or tyrannically. Form VI to feign ignorance or inexperience [deceptively] Form X – to deem or regard as stupid, ignorant, foolish.

غشوم – Unjust, iniquitous

غشيم -Ignorant, inexperienced, a greenhorn

غشو – To envelop, conceal, descend upon.

غشى – Unconsciousness, swooning

غشاء – cover, wrapper, coating

غاشية – misfortune, calamity, disaster

غص -to choke, be choked, be overcrowded or packed

غصب – Take by force, rob, seize, force, compel, abduct, violate (a woman), conquer, subdue

غاصب – Usurper

غض – To lower, lessen, diminish, detract, to turn away from [out of modesty]

غض البصر – lower ones gaze.

غضة – Shortcoming, deficiency

غضب -To be angry, upset, irritated

غضر – Turn away from, turn on/against someone,

غضن -To wrinkle, pucker, shrivel

غضن -Toil, labor, hardship, difficulty

غضو – To close ones eyes, to overlook, disregard, avoid seeing

غضا – On pins and needles, in an unbearable situation

تغاض -Overlooking, connivance, disregard

غط – To immerse, dip, plunge

غطيطة – Fog, mist, miasma

غطرة -Headcloth worn in Bahrein and Najd [covering over of the head]

غطرس – To be arrogant, haughty

متفطرس – conceited, self-obsessed

غطس -To immerse, dip, plunge

غطاس – Baptism

غطش – To be or become dark [said of the day], obscured

غطا – To cover up. Form II – To wrap up, be stronger, conceal, to drown out

غف – To take unawares, grab, grasp, seize.

غفر – Guard over, watch

غفرة – Cover, lid

غفارة – Headcloth

مغفر – Helmet

غفل – To neglect, not heed, act foolishly, ignore,

غفلة -Foolishness, heedlessness, acting without thinking

تغفيل -Stultification [I have no idea what that means at all]

مغفل – Apathetic, indifferent, gullible, easily duped, a chump

غفو -To doze off, take a nap

غل -To penetrate, become deeply embedded, to put in manacles or chains, be filled with hatred,

غل – hatred, spite malice

غلب -Subdue, conquer, vanquish, be victorious

غالب – Most of, the majority, [that which has been overcome by another side]

مغلب – Defeated, overwhelmed, overcome

غلس – Darkness of night

غلط – To make an error, to be incorrect, be mistaken

غلظ – To be or become rude, crude, rugged, to treat ruthlessly

غلغل – To penetrate, become deeply embedded, to put in manacles or chains

متغلغل – deeply embedded, extensive, far-reaching

Note this is just غل doubled.

غلف -To wrap in a cover

غلاف – a cover

غلق -To close, shut,

انغلاق – incomprehensibility

غلم – To be seized by lust or sensuous desire

غلو -To go over the proper bounds, to be excessive, to overflow, to be expensive

غالي – Expensive

غم -To cover, to veil, to conceal

غمد -To sheathe, put into a scabbard, shelter, encompass, protect

غمر -To be plentiful, to be abundant, to overflow, to flood, submerge, immerse

غمار -copious, plentiful, desolate, bare [see previous post on antonyms]

مغامرة -hazardous or foolhardy undertaking, adventure, risk, hazard

غميزة -failing, fault, shortcoming of character

غمس – To dip, plunge, submerge, immerse

غمص -To belittle, degrade, despise, hold in contempt

غمض – To be hidden, concealed, to be dark, to close ones eyes, to be incomprehensible

غامض -ambiguous, dark, obscure [which itself comes from the Latin obscurus, indistinct, dark, as opposed to lucidus, light, and therefore clear. ]

غامضة -unsolved problem, riddle.

غمط -To belittle, degrade, despise, hold in contempt

غمغم – To mumble, to mutter

غامق – Dark

غملج – Fickle, inconsistent, unstable

غمى – To swoon, faint, loose consciousness

غنج -To flirt

غندر – To play the dandy, act like a fop

غنم -To gain booty, take as war spoils, plunder, sack, loot

غنم – Spoils, booty

غنم – Sheep and goats, herd

غيهب -Darkness, duskiness, gloom

غار -To To penetrate, become deeply embedded, to ooze away. Form II – to attack, raid

غارة -Predatory incursion

مغار – Cave, cavern, grotto

غاص – To dip, plunge, submerge, immerse

غوط – To evacuate the bowels

غاغة -Mob, rabble, riff-raff, din

غال – To take away, grab, rob

اغتيال – Assassination

غوى – To stray from the right way, seduce, tempt, lure away from righteousness.

غواية -error, sin, seduction

غاب – To be absent

غيب – the Unknown world, that of jins and angels and spirits and the world beyond death, the supernatural.

غار/غير – To be jealous, to display zeal over. Form II To alter, modify, change. Form III To be dissimilar, to be different

غير – other than, different from, unlike, no, not, non-, un-, dis-, except, save.

مغاير – Indecent, immoral

غاض/غيض – Decrease, diminish, recede

غاظ/غيظ – To anger, exasperate, enrage, vex, gall

غيم/غام -To become cloudy

غيام – Clouds, mist, fog.


~ by Josh on July 4, 2008.

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