I've noticed the form فعلان (faʿlan) seems to imply emphasis, like in رحمان (raḥmân) which seems to means "All-Merciful". This form seems to exist in other Semitic languages like Hebrew (maybe רַבָּן, rabban?).

I've searched a while, but didn't find any answer. Does this form have a specific name in English?

  • I've never seen any names used for the Arabic forms except the traditional Arabic ones (so I would just call it "fa`lān"). Are there common names for the other forms in English, or am I misunderstanding your question?
    – Draconis
    Dec 10, 2019 at 17:01
  • @Draconis, I'm thinking in term of common linguistic vocabulary like "causative form", "superlative", etc.
    – Amessihel
    Dec 10, 2019 at 17:24
  • @Amessihel -- The suffix also occurs on collective plurals for mice, rats, lizards, and neighbors. Dec 10, 2019 at 21:29
  • @bert-barrois, thanks. I haven't studied Arabic, so I'm just presuming. I think it's a matter of prefix like the examples you mentionned, but more of the pattern CaCCāN: raḥmān, sakrān. The pattern could also be CuCCāN like subḥān. They seem both to imply a completeness, and if so I'm surprised there is no linguistical term describing this form, especially if it's not just Arabic but Semitic related. I think I'm wrong, but don't know where.
    – Amessihel
    Dec 10, 2019 at 22:08
  • I don't know Hebrew, but I think the suffix -ŌN might be cognate. Wikipedia says it has diminutive connotation. Dec 11, 2019 at 13:21

2 Answers 2


In the Wikipedia article on Arabic Nouns and Adjectives the fa'lan form is named intensive.


I don’t think it has a particular name, but it can be defined as forming adjectives from verbal stems, like sakrān “drunk” from s-k-r, or kaslān “lazy” from k-s-l. Normally, such adjectives have a human referent.

  • Thank you. Are sakrān and kaslān impliying "all-something"-like sense ("all-sugared" ie alcoholic, "all-lazyness") as I supposed in my comment replying to @Bert-Barrois?
    – Amessihel
    Dec 10, 2019 at 22:07
  • s1-k-r “to be drunk” is Semitic, not related to the Persian/Indian loanword for “sugar”.
    – fdb
    Dec 10, 2019 at 22:47
  • Yes, it is loan word from Persian.
    – fdb
    Dec 10, 2019 at 23:02

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