Although it can be tempting to avoid using Arabic-Arabic dictionaries altogether, as there are so many Arabic-English dictionaries, many of them of very high quality, there are definite advantages to developing a habit of using them.

Most obviously, as you look up the new words you come across when reading or listening to Arabic, you’ll also learn other new words from the dictionary. Exposing yourself to the language used in dictionaries is in itself very useful – you’ll see how to be precise and concise when expressing different ideas and concepts.

Aside from that, some of these dictionaries often contain additional information, such as contextual and idiomatic uses of words, which is not found in Arabic-English dictionaries.

While it is certainly true that Lane’s Lexicon has reduced the need for students to spend long hours poring over multi-volume dictionaries by the classical Arabic lexicographers, it should be remembered that Lane’s Lexicon is a very detailed dictionary, and that it only deals with classical Arabic. A good Arabic-Arabic dictionary can therefore be a very useful intermediate step between using basic Arabic-English dictionaries like Hans Wehr or Hava, and using advanced dictionaries like Lane’s Lexicon.

Our advice is that after doing some Arabic grammar and becoming comfortable reading Arabic texts with the aid of an Arabic-English dictionary, get into a good habit, as early as possible, of using one of the dictionaries reviewed below.

The reviews below will help you decide which is the right one for you. Please note that we have restricted the reviews only to the best known and best quality dictionaries.

al-mu'jam al-wasit
al-Mu’jam al-Wasīṭ
mukhtar al-sihah
Mukhtār al-Ṣiḥāḥ
al-qamus al-muhit
al-Qāmūs al-Muḥīṭ