All you need to know about لاجئين

As the refugee crises across the Middle East and Europe continues to worsen and the fates of millions of people are unknown, the topic of refugees is covered by Arabic-language news on a daily basis.

The Arabic word for refugee is لاجئ (laji’). لاجئ can also mean emigrant or someone who has sought asylum. In this blog post, we will be covering the most common aspects of لاجئ so that you’ll be able to recognize it in all its different forms as you continue to improve your Arabic media reading skills.

The Root

The root letters of لاجئ are ل ج أ

These three root letters make up the core of all nouns and verbs that are derived from لاجئ  and most of them will be related to refuge or shelter in one way or another.

The Form I Verb

Form I – to take refuge, to resort to, to seek asylum, to fall back on, to seek information, to refer

لَجَئَ إلى a  (laja’a)

لَجِئَ إلى a (laji’a)

لُجُوء (luju’) or لَجَأ (laja’) – refuge, political asylum


لَجَئَ عَسْكَرِي سوري  الى تركيا

A Syrian soldier sought refuge in Turkey

وجد الرئيس المخلوع اللجوءفي لبنان

The deposed president found refuge in Lebanon.

Similarly, you will run into the noun “تَلَجَّأ”, which is used in rare instances in place of “لجأ إلى”

Nouns That Derive From لَجَئَ إلى

The Active Participle

لاجئ (laji’) – refugee

لاجئ is the active participle that we derive from لَجَئَ إلى. In Arabic, the active participle is the person or thing doing the action. In this case, the لاجئ or refugee is the one seeking refuge. This active participle pattern is known as faa3il (فاعِل). Similar faa3ils that are derived from Form I verbs such as لَجَئَ إلى include:

  • تَبِعَ ، يَتْبَع / tabi3’a , yatba3′ creates تابع – taabi3′ (a follower, adherent)
  • كَتَبَ ، يَكْتُب / katab, yaktub creates كاتِب (a writer, author)

Another active participle derived from our root is “مُلْتَجِئ”, which is to refer to someone seeking refuge, but, the word is is barely used.

Nouns of Place

مَلْجَأ ، مَلَاجِئ (malja‘ / malaaji‘) – refuge retreat, shelter, asylum, sanctuary

The noun of place that derives from لَجَئَ إلى  is مَلْجَأ (malja’) and its plural مَلَاجِئ (malaaji’). Malja’ falls into the nouns of place pattern known as maf3al (مَفْعَل). We form nouns of place by:

  • Adding a م before our first root letter
  • Adding a fatha ( ً  ) after the second root letter

Malja’ / Malaaji’, like all nouns of place,  falls into the plural pattern known as mafaa’il (مَفَاعِل). We can form a mafaa’il by changing the internal vowels of the singular word. To do this, we have to know the three root letters that are at the core of the word مَلْجَأ , which we have already identified as ل ج أ

Some similar maf3al nouns of place include:

  • marfa’ / maraafi’ – مَرْفَأ / مَرَافِئ – port(s)
  • maktab / makaatib – مَكْتَب / مَكَاتِب – office(s)
  • masna’ / masaani’ – مَصْنَع / مَصَانِع – factory(ies)



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