How to use Hans Wehr dictionary

Hans Wehr is an Arabic to English dictionary. It is very popular amongst English students, comprehensive and easy to navigate. You can either use a hard copy 4th edition, a searchable PDF (Hans Wehr) or or Hans Wehr.App.

The dictionary is ordered alphabetically by root letters, so one cannot search by word. For example, the word مسجد will come under س as this is the first letter of the root س ج د. The only exception is arabized words like diplomacy.

The Arabic alphabet

أ ب ت ث ج ح خ د ذ ر ز س ش ص ض ط ظ ع غ ف ق ك ل م ن ه و ي

Working through an example

Let’s we come across the word مفتاح. The first step is to find the root letters… either with experience or by trial and error.

ف ت ح

  1. The Maadhi is given with transliteration (which gives the Haraka of the Ain Kalima).
  2. The Mudhaari letter is given to determine appropriate baab .
  3. The Masdar is given in brackets (can have more than one).
  4. Fil Maadhi Salasi Mujarrad base meaning. Demarcated with semi colons to show each meaning based on context.
  5. The ھ in brackets indicates used with inanimate object. So if the context of this word is used with an inanimate object, then meaning will be ‘to open’ something. If the object was a canal, then it would be ‘to dig’. If there is a ه in the brackets, then it refers to animate beings. Remember the object/context will be considered to find best meaning.
  6. Shows meaning under all other applicable verb forms (one needs to know the baab name and formation/wazn).
  7. The Masdar is not shown for the other Forms, as the Baab name is the Masdar.
  8. Some words contain an ‘|’. Words following this give usage in an idiomatic expression
  9. Then nouns and various meanings with plurals are shown however not all might be listed but one can use sarf to work out the root and reapply to another pattern.
  10. The number next to madhi indicates homonym.

Other letters

  1. To find weak letters bring back the weak letter e.g. قال has a weak و in the Ain Kalima, so we will search for ق و ل in the dictionary. The weak letters are either و or ي.
  • Four letter roots will appear as is
  • To find a double letter like فَرَّ then find it under the first two letters فر
  • There might be usages of other types of words, but this is why Sarf Sagheer is important to memorise. It will allow the reader to morph words or at least work out root letters.  


  1. Determine the root letters, find the base meaning and then the definition of each of the following words:
  1. كتاب
  2. مكروه
  3. تفسير
  4. مجرم
  5. دعاء
  6. ٱسْتِغْفَار
  7. تقوى
  8. مقدار
  9. كاشف
  10. ٱلْغَفُورُ
  11. غرغر
  12. ترجم
  • Think of names in your family, use the dictionary to work out what their name means
  • Find the meaning of the following Qur’anic words
  1. أَعُوذُ
  2. ٱلْوَسْوَاسِ
  3. غَاسِقٍ
  4. ٱلنَّفَّـٰثَـٰتِ
  5. حَاسِدٍ
  6. يَلِدْ
  7. إمرأة
  8. جَآءَ
  9. شَانِئَكَ
  10. يَحُضُّ
  11. سَاهُونَ
  12. قُرَيْشٍ
  13. تَضْلِيلٍۢ
  14. إبراهيم
  • [Hard] Determine the root letters, find the base meaning and then the definition of each of the following words:

To be Added

List of Verb Forms

The Arabic verb forms meanings

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