1.5 Culture: Arabic names and titles


In this section

  • You will learn about the Arabic names and how they are formed.
  • You will understand the significance of using titles in Arabic culture.

Arabic Names

Arabic names have traditionally been based on a long naming system. Unlike the American names, for example, Arabic names can consist of four names or more, identifying the name of the person, father’s name, grandfather’s name, and finally the family name.

In this Arabic name, أحمد محمد علي العدوي, أحمد is the person’s name, محمد is his father’s name, علي is his grandfather’s name and العدوي is the family name.

Many Arabic names have meanings as ordinary adjectives and nouns. For example, the Arabic names قمر and شمس are female names, which mean moon and sun respectively. Male names like سعيد means “Happy” , خالد means “immortal”. Some Arabic names have religious associations. For example, عبدالله means the servant of Allah (God). The most common Arabic name is محمد because of the Muslims’ Prophet Mohammad.

Name of Mohammad in Arabic caligraphy

Finally, in the Arabic cultures, titles tend to preface Arabic names. For example, الدكتور ياسر , المهندس سامي, which can be rendered as Doctor Yasser and Engineer Sami. Here, the titles الدكتور and المهندس are professional titles that preface the persons’ names. These titles help identify the professional, academic, and social status of the addressees. Culturally, Arab people tend to dignify titles and feel most of the time socially obliged to mention these titles whenever they address people. Some of these titles are abbreviated in writing as follows:

م. مهندس

د. دكتور

أ.د. أستاذ دكتور

Activity (15): Think about names of Arab people you know or search online to check on five names and their meaning. Share with your teacher in class.

Key Takeaways

  • You now know that the names of your Arab friends have meanings. Find out what their names imply.
  • You understand the cultural practice of using respect forms and titles.



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Elementary Arabic II Copyright © 2021 by Ayman Mohamed and Sadam Issa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book