The Muḥīṭ al-Muḥīṭ Dictionary: The Transition from Classical to Modern Arabic Lexicography

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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 encyclopedia Dāʾirat al-maʿārif, his most monumental effort and the cornerstone of al-Bustānī’s modern lexical vision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-32
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Arabic and Islamic studies
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Arabic language
  • Arabic language -- Dialects -- Classical Arabic
  • Bustānī, Buṭrus ibn Būlus , 1818-1882
  • Lexicography


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