The Muḥīṭ al-Muḥīṭ Dictionary

The Transition from Classical to Modern Arabic Lexicography


  • Fruma Zachs Department of Middle Eastern and Islam Studies, University of Haifa
  • Yehudit Dror Department of Arabic Language and Literature, University of Haifa



This article discusses the contribution of the Muḥīṭ al-Muḥīṭ dictionary written by Buṭrus al-Bustānī, one of the leading figures of the Nahḍa, to the development of modern Arabic lexicography. This lexical endeavor is examined not only as part of a proto-national project, but as a pivotal moment in the development of modern Arabic lexical thought and in particular in al-Bustānī’s vision.

Muḥīṭ al-Muḥīṭ constituted an important pedagogical step in transforming classical Arabic into “a living” language adapted to the needs of the Arab nation. However, although Muḥīṭ al-Muḥīṭ took the first crucial steps toward creating a modern Arabic lexical source, this dictionary mainly extends the age-old Arabic tradition of lexicography. It nevertheless paved the way to al-Bustānī’s final work, the encyclopediaʾirat al-maʿārif, his most monumental effort and the cornerstone of al-Bustānī’s modern lexical vision.




How to Cite

Zachs, F., & Dror, Y. (2020). The Muḥīṭ al-Muḥīṭ Dictionary: The Transition from Classical to Modern Arabic Lexicography. Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, 20, 15–32.