Arabic Names from al-Andalus: Feminine Bynames Found in al-Andalus (nisba and laqab)

by Juliana de Luna (Julia Smith)

© 2008 Julia Smith; all rights reserved
last updated 21Apr08

Constructing Nicknames

To construct nicknames correctly, one must know a bit of Arabic grammar. In general, locative andfamily/tribal nicknames are formed from the names of places, groups of people, and individuals. If these names end with a consonant, the masculine nickname is generally formed by adding a suffix –ī. This creates a form that means something like "(the guy) of/from X." For names of places, groups of people, and individuals that end with a vowel, the situation is more complicated. When the vowel is short, it is frequently dropped and the suffix added. When the vowel is long, then a –w- is often added to the root before adding the suffix. However, in some cases there are changes to the vowels of the root; I have no clear idea why some roots change while others stay the same. Constructing new occupational anddescriptivebynames is difficult, because it is hard to figure out what sorts of descriptions might have been used.

To make feminine nicknames from masculine ones, one must make grammatical corrections. For masculine nicknames ending with the –ī suffix, that suffix is replaced with the feminine version –iyya. For masculine occupational anddescriptivebynames ending in a consonant, the most common way to make the feminine form is to add the suffix –a.

Color terms are irregular; the vast majority have different masculine and feminine forms:

Documented here in at least one form

ColorMasc. formFem. form.

Not documented here, but possible bynames

ColorMasc. formFem. form.

Feminine Nicknames (nisba and laqab)

al-`Āhirdescriptivelibertine, fornicator
al-`Arūḍiyyadescriptiveone skilled at prosody (the rhythm of speech)
al-Ḥajjadescriptiveone who has completed the hajj
al-Balansiyyalocative'the (f) Valencian'
al-Bayḍā'descriptive'the white'
al-Dhalfā'descriptive'the snub-nosed'
al-Fā`iladescriptivedishonorable (note found as ibn al-fā`ila)
al-Jillīqiyyalocative'Gallega' (woman from Galicia)
al-Kātibaoccupational the scribe
al-Labbānaoccupational 'milkmaid'
al-Mardanīshiyyafamily descendant of Mardanīsh (king of Valencia)
al-Mu`allima occupational teacher
al-Nafzāwiyyalocativefrom Nafzā
al-Qrīqiyya locative'the Greek (woman)'
al-Rumaykiyyafamily descendant of Rumayk
al-Sū'descriptive'full of vice'
al-Suwaydā'descriptive'the (little) black one'
al-Wā`iẓa occupational the preacher
al-Zarqā'descriptivethe blue-eyed'
al-Marwāniyyafamily descendant of Marwān
al-Tamīmiyyafamily descendant of Tamīm
al-Qurayshiyyatribal of the Quraysh tribe