Spelling Arabic Words in English

I want to clear up some confusion. While Arabic words and names may be spelled many different ways in English, they are only spelled one way in Arabic. Arabic doesn’t have any confusion or ambiguity when it comes to spelling.

So while the US Library of Congress supposedly has twenty-three ways to spell the name of the president of Libya, in Arabic his name is spelled one way and every Arabic speaker knows how to spell it without any confusion. It’s معمر القذافي

And the reason I bring this up is because I occasionally see someone on a message board or a blog get overly creative with transliterating an Arabic word.

For example: Irak. You can’t interchange a ‘k’ and ‘q.’ Different letters, different words. Knock it off. Unless you’re speaking German, in which case, that’s okay.

Another example I saw recently: taqfir. Come on now, what the hell is that? You can not interchange and ‘k’ and a ‘q’!

Q in English represents this Arabic letter: ق

K in English represents this Arabic letter: ك

You change the letter, you change the word. Barking is not the same as parking. Sleep is not the same as sleet.

Wow, this site says there are 87 different official spellings of the president of Libya’s name.


Filed under arabic, language, pedantry

181 responses to “Spelling Arabic Words in English

  1. lisa willard

    Can you please tell me how to spell dorothy smith and 1942 – 2008.

  2. Sure. دوروثي سميث is the name and unfortunately, my keyboard is not letting me type Arabic Arabic numbers.

  3. dave

    how do you spell “god willing” in arabic?

  4. felisa

    how do you spell Sarah in arabic?

  5. سارة…but if you’re going to get it tattooed on you, I recommend that you find a graphic artist who knows Arabic to pretty it up for you.

  6. I just started learning Arabic and I love it. Hope to drop back here if I need help / recommendations.

    Nice blog by the way. I’m adding you to my roll.

  7. That’s great! Please do feel free to ask question or make suggestions. Sometimes I run out of ideas.

  8. Anonymous


  9. Angie

    how doy you spell
    i love you sebastian
    my love for you
    always will love you

  10. I love you Sebastian=احبك سباستيان

  11. anthony

    how do you spell rebel in arabic and felipe and kiara in arabic

  12. The Arabic word for “rebel” is متمرد or ثائر. But “rebel” might have a more negative connotation in Arabic.
    Felipe is فيليبي.
    For Kiara, it depends on how you pronounce it. If it’s kee-ar-ah, then كيارا, and if it’s keer-ah, then كيرا. If it’s pronounced some other way, let me know.
    If you want to say Felipe and Kiara together, then put a و in between them.

  13. Angie

    hey snarla im sorry once againa
    how do you write

    ” I Will Always Love You Sebas M ”

    or instead of Sebas M ( Sebastian M )

  14. سوف احبك دائما يا سيباس م
    سوف احبك دائما يا سيباستيان م

  15. Now that I think about it, you could leave off the سوف

  16. Heather

    What are the names Cameron and Desiree in Arabic?

  17. Cameron = كاميرون you can tell it’s right because if you copy and paste it into Google, it’ll bring up pictures of Cameron Diaz.
    Desiree = ديسيري

  18. yara

    how do you spell Mounir in Arabic?

  19. Desiree

    How do you spell amen and angel

  20. “Amen,” like at the end of prayer? That’s آمين.
    The name Angel is آنجل, but the word “angel” is ملك.

  21. Desiree

    How do you spell the quote this too shall pass

  22. freddie

    hey can you tell me how to spell Unique and Random in Arabic please! many thanks

    • Tricky one.
      The Arabic word for “unique” is وحيد (for a female, وحيدة). Transliterated into Arabic letters, the English word “unique” is يونيك.
      The Arabic word for “random” is عشواءي(for a female, عشواءية). Transliterated into Arabic letters, the English word “random” is راندوم.

  23. freddie

    so the last Arabic translations are the ones which i want!!that right? cheers

  24. Ky O

    Can you tell me the symbols for love and strength?

  25. Anonymous

    German.. or Dutch.

  26. Jules

    Hi, how do we spell “strength” in arabic?
    Thank you

  27. Charlotte

    How do you spell charlotte in saudi arabia

  28. Charlotte

    how do you spell maquaela in saudi arabia

  29. Anonymous

    can you please spell crazy in arabic?

    • If you mean the word for ‘crazy,’ it’s مجنون if you´re describing a man and مجنونة if you´re describing a woman. If know someone named Crazy and you want to see how that would look in Arabic, it’s كريزي.

  30. julissa

    Can you please translate for me the name Felipe and if you also can do Julissa/Juli
    i seen you already translated Felipe but i can’t read it or copy it for a tattoo of my husbands name.. if you can please e-mail it to me.

  31. Hello snarla,
    I found the word strength in arabic in this website http://images.cafepress.com/image/19634831_400x400.jpg I was wondering its also right because I saw its spells a bit different from what you posted.
    And could you please tell me how to spell the name Karolina.

  32. karen

    Oh and if you could also translate “inner strength”
    Thank you

    • Anonymous

      Snarla, I was just wondering if you had the chance to figure out how to spell”inner strength”.
      Thanks so much.

      • Hi Karen,
        It’s not that I don’t know how to write “inner strength” in Arabic, it’s that I’m afraid a native speaker might think it’s something that would be written on the side of a can of oven cleaner or a box of laundry detergent. I haven’t had a chance to ask a native about it.
        I think it might end up that قوة by itself is the word you’re looking for.

  33. karen

    how do u spell Karen in Arabic

  34. JASON

    Dear Snarla

    Could you please translate ‘Rachel my Angel, forever in my heart’ – into native Tunisian.
    My father was tunisian and my wife, partner and best friend of 18 years Rachel passed away last year at 33 from a brain tumor. I am having a portrait of her as an angel tatood on tuesday and would like these words put on it. Please send it in a format that i can copy and print.

    Many Thanks


    • I’m sorry, John, but I don’t know Tunisian. Good luck.

      • Jason

        Dear Snarla

        Could you translate the Rachel sentence into arabic then?


        Jason (not John)

      • I recommend that you get a second opinion, but here’s my take:
        ريتشيل ملكتي في قلبي دائمأ
        I don´t know that the Arabs have the concept of female angels. What I have written above also means “my queen.”
        If you want something more authentically Arab, go with
        ريتشيل قرة عيني في قلبي دائمأ
        “Rachel, delight of my eye, in my heart always.”
        When you copy and paste this, be absolutely sure that the formatting doesn’t get messed up. That would be embarrassing.
        There are some people on the internet who specialize in designing Arabic tattoos. I would consult with them.

  35. dilmurat

    Hi. What does “Raida” mean?(smb told me its an arabic word)

  36. dilmurat

    What does ‘Rhaida’ mean?(somebody told me its an arabic word)

  37. isla

    hey could you tell me how to write

    ‘steadfast and adversity’


    ‘in hardship faithful’

    in arabic please?

    • isla, I asked a friend for suggestions and here are his answers:
      Anyway, for the the latter of the two I have a good phrase taken from the title of a an Arabic song I found on the web.

      The title of the song is:
      رافع رأسي بتحدي صامد في وجه الشدة

      And I think صامد في وجه الشدة would be good for “in hardship faithful”

      And you can always reverse it to match the English:

      في وجه الشدة صامد

  38. navy chick

    how do your write love is pain in arabic

  39. Gilly

    How do you spell the word Two in arabic?


  40. kristy

    can you please spell this in arabic I would like to get it as a tattoo.

    “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best”

  41. karen

    how do you spell= live in freedom
    karen and samuel

  42. naomi

    can u plz tell me how to say in english – arabic_what is the time?

  43. la la

    how do you spell desiree in arabic

  44. ahsan

    how do you spell mysha in arabic

  45. yasmine

    hi could someone tell me how to write aaliyah in arabic please?

  46. shazia

    how to spell aliya in arabic….actually im naming my daughter aliya…which means high,exalted…is it aaliya or aliya??aliya as in alisha…whats the right way to prononuce it?aaliya or aliya?

    • If you’re talking about the same name as the singer who died in 2001, then the Arabic is عالية.
      It starts with a sound we don´t have in English. You probably don´t want to pronounce it Arabic way, anyhow.
      Try this. Start to say ah-lee-uh, but just as you start to say the first syllable, pretend you dropped something heavy on your foot.

  47. shazia

    thank u for ur response,i want to prononuce it the arabic way…im still not clear if it has to be pronounced like ‘a’ in cat or ‘a’in ran….aa li ya or a’liya…i want to use aliya as the spellin…is it acceptable in arabic text?

  48. Joanne

    How do you write the name Lee in arabic?

  49. celestebeardiva1

    just wondering… how do you spell Celeste? (I learned that there is no C in the Arabic language, so i have no idea how to spell my neme 😦 )

  50. ash

    how do i spell ishtiaq in arabic??

  51. ash

    how do i spell zara in arabic

  52. ash

    How do u spell hussain in arabic

  53. Dick

    Lately I see numbers used to represent Arabic consonants when using the western alphabet in email, for example 7 for Ha (it looks somewhat like the Arabic symbol), 3 for ‘ayn (looks like a mirror-image of the Arabic symbol). My question, in this system what does 9 stand for? (example: “…bey3raf ye9tar atmana ye9tarni…”)

  54. Uchenna Bismarck

    Pls can U spell Bismarck for me in arabic

  55. Lisa

    how do you spell “simone” in arabic writing?

  56. Amirah

    Hi my name is Amirah, how do I spell my name in arabic? I know I have an arabic name, and no, I’m not arabic, so I’m unsure of the spelling. LOL :]

  57. dg12

    how do you spell “december” in arabic?

  58. hi, Snarla!

    you came up in my google search and i was wondering how you spell “relentless” in Arabic? Thanks so much!

    • Hi marenna. The Arabic word closest in meaning to “relentless” is probably قاس (for a man) and قاسية (for a woman). But it also means “cruel” and “stern.”
      “Relentless” transliterated in English is ريلنتلس

  59. Marlenia

    Hi Snarla,

    Can you please put this in Arabic for me? ( My strength, My Courage ) or ( 11-9-06 )


    • Hi Marlenia,
      “My strength, my courage” is قوتي, شجاعتي.

      But be aware that the formatting might have gotten/might get messed up if you copy and paste this.

      I can’t do the numerals for you because my keyboard doesn’t do them.

      Have a good day

  60. Jonathan

    Can you please tell us what Arabic letters are used to spell the name “Hussein” ? Tell us in English transliteration, please. Thank you.

  61. Mufeeda

    Hey Snarla… What’s the most apt arabic word for a combination of strength(inner) and endurance… Please let me know the pronunciation in english as well as how it is written in arabic. Thanks

    • Hi Mufeeda,
      I don’t know if it’s the most apt word, but I like good old قوة–it means “strength; vigor; intensity; potential; power” and many other good things.
      The first letter, ق, is pronounced like a ‘k’ but as far back in your throat as you can do it. Bearing that in mind, it’s pronounced KOO-uh.
      You might prefer صمود, which means “staying power (in the face of an opponent).”
      It starts with the letter ص, which is similar to our ‘s’ but you keep your tongue more flat and full. Bearing that in mind, it’s pronounced suh-MOOD.

  62. How do you spell the name Bobbi-Dee in arabic??? 😀

  63. Leighton

    Hi, I hope you’re well. How do you spell Resistance in Arabic? Many thanks.


  64. Dania

    Hey Snarla, I have a phrase for you in arabic.. I need it transliterated into arabic: “Until Forever” (La hataa’l an) OR “From now until the end” (Min el daee’a la hataa’l abad).

    • Hi Dania, you put me in a quandary. That’s either Egyptian dialect or Egyptian pronunciation, so I’m not sure if I should spell it in MSA or following the Egyptian pronunciation. Do you have a preference?

      I’m seeing la hataa’l an used to mean “so far,” and so I’m not sure it won’t be misinterpreted.

      Here’s your second phrase, if I’m understanding it right: من الدقيقة الي حتى الابد.

  65. RG

    How do u spell Brother in Arabic?

  66. Loveangel

    I was wondering how to spell evolving in arabic and love…

  67. dilruba sharmin

    plss tell me how to spell AAZEEN in arabic

  68. Renae

    Could you spell my daughter’s name : Amerie in arabic pls..

  69. Loveangel

    Im wondering whats the spelling for evolving and love

  70. Shahina

    can you please show me how to spell the name Nuzhat.. I have a friend who spells her name as Nazhat but i dont think the pronounciation of that is correct, i think shes supposed to be Nuzhat.

  71. kelly

    How do u spell lawrence in arabic Pls

  72. Jack

    Can anyone reverse-transcribe this for me? أول ضوء

  73. Anonymous

    Can anyone please trasncribe for me?
    For every dark night there is a brighter day

  74. Nikole

    I’m not sure if anyone’s on here anymore, but I was wondering how either ثائر or متمرد is pronounced in Arabic and/or a romanized version? thanks ^^

  75. Rosa

    Hey this is urgent!!! Can u translate “this too shall pass” into Arabics please

  76. Simone

    Hi, I hope you can help. Im trying to get “Echelon placement solutions” written in Arabic not translated.

  77. Anonymous

    Hey could yountranslate “This too shall pass” in Arabic please

  78. Pingback: Arabic Words spelled in english – Arabic Words | Learn Arabic » Blog Archive

  79. Anonymous

    Hey, how can i spell “i am”, “fan”, “legend”. and “football/soccer”? This words i can’t get it right T,T

  80. ian

    How do you spell the name Blake please

  81. Chastity

    how do you spell the name “Jeimie” in Arabic?

  82. Daniel

    How do u spell Daniel in arabic. I keep getting different answers, is there only one way for each word.

  83. grace

    how about ” to infinity and beyond”

  84. josanne

    Hello, would like to get my daughter’s name tattooed its ZAAFIRA, would like to know the spelling in Arabic, thanks

  85. Someone who needs help N-O-W

    Someone please help me spell Oasis in Arabic but with the letters seperately, I’m making a crossword. If you find a site that does that, please reply and tell me.

  86. Someone who needs help N-O-W

    I also need the words;
    -sand dunes
    -Five Pillars of Islam
    all with the letter spelled seperately, please, I need these words urgently.

  87. chelsea contravis


    how do you say ‘handsome fashion’? As in, Allah created man in a handsome fashion. I believe it’s ‘hasan taqi’ but i am unsure. i need this clarified for it is our unborn son’s name and he is due soon 🙂 thank you in advance, salams

  88. Anonymous

    can you please spell for me my name Jamillah in arabic..thanks!

  89. “Spelling Arabic Words in English | Anonymous Arabist وين الناس” was actually compelling and useful!
    In the present day world honestly, that is tricky to deliver.
    Thank you, Kassandra

  90. Sal

    I’m so glad I found this blog. Could you please help me?

    My name is Saliha. It also has MANY different spellings such as Saaliegah, Sauligah, Soliga, Solikha, Saaliha, Salikha… Etc. I want to keep my name spelled “Saliha” but people always mispronounce it. So I was wondering if I put an accent on the first “a” in my name, then that part of my name will carry the emphasis so when people pronounce it, it will then sound closer to the Arabic pronunciation.

    So which accent do I use?

    Sâliha, Sãliha, Sàliha, Sáliha?

    Thanks a lot. 🙂

  91. Anonymous

    how do you spell area in arabic with a tanweens on it

  92. Is there a difference in the name Mysha and Misha in Arabic? What is the meanig of these names and how do u write them in Arabic?
    Is this pronounced as mee-sha or my-sha ??

  93. Karen

    I’d like to know how to spell you’re my angel in americanized arabic for a tattoo.

  94. Desiree dejesus

    Can you please tell me how to spell desiree Marie in Arabic (: I tried posting this question up before but I’m not sure it went threw. Thank you

  95. Anonymous

    How do you spell, god is a fraud?

  96. aziry

    can you please translate Damian Rafael

  97. Derrell

    How do you spell LeShaun and Tamara

  98. kumar

    How do you spell “give me strength” in arabic

  99. Nelly

    How do you spell “this too shall pass”

  100. The arabic letters in english are wrong spelling

  101. How do you spell “narcissist” VERTICALLY in Arabic?

  102. Alyssa

    How is “you are my sunshine” and “you bring sunshine to my heart” spelled out in Arabic?

  103. Anonymous

    please i want to know how can i write my arabic last name in proper english way >> my last name is ” العبيدي ” .. thanks in advance

  104. What is an Arabic last name that means ‘to lead’ or anything along them lines?

    • قائد would be a good one. I´d probably transliterate it Qaed. Another possibility is سيد, Sayyid. امير , Amir, means both ´prince´and ´commander.’

      Do you mean ‘to lead’ more like ‘to guide’ or more like ‘to command’?

  105. charlote

    Hi. How do you write
    In arabic…
    X X X X

  106. Z

    Hi just wondering is there different ways to spell ‘angels’ in arabic?

  107. barb

    How do u spell spoiled brat in Syrian

  108. Reena

    Can you please help spell zeus in Arabic.

  109. Anonymous

    Could you please write Aliyah and Amirah for me in Arabic? Thank you!

  110. Dee

    Please tell me the proper way in American English to spell the words A salaam a lakum and crazy I read that No is La in Arabic is that true?

    • The Arabic word for ‘no’ is ‘la’–that’s true.

      As for how to spell as-salam alaykum, well, that’s up to the individual. There is no official way to transliterate Arabic words in English, or vice versa.

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