Etymology of Arabic حواري

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Senior Member

The plural form of the word حواري is used in the Holy Quran to denote the disciples of Hz. Jesus.

Is it a regular derivation of the Arabic حور/حار verb root, or is it a Hebrew/Aramaic loanword? Was 7awâri used in other senses too in Classical Arabic, or only in reference to the apostles of Jesus? Is it a cognate of Hebrew חָבֵר (khaver) friend, fellow, associate, companion?

  • inquisitiveness1

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I believe the Arabic word حواري ḥawāriyy in the sense of "the disciples of Jesus ~ the Apostles" is considered to be a loan from (or at least heavily influenced by) a Ethiopian Semitic language word akin to Ge'ez ሐዋርያ ḥäwarəya of the same meaning (if not straight from Ge'ez).

    As for if it had other senses in Classical Arabic (specifically I assume you mean before it acquired meaning "disciple of Jesus"), I am not sure. I know it does have another meaning - "someone who whitens clothing" - but I don't know how old that meaning is compared to the religious meaning (not to mention that it looks like a nisba adjective/noun, but I don't see any حوار ḥawār source noun it could have come from).

    It definitely is not cognate to Hebrew חבר ḥaḇer as the medial consonant of the Hebrew root of that word is a 'b', not a 'w'.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Moroccan Arabic
    There are many interpretations for this word in the dictionaries, be it religious or linguistic, one that makes more sense to me is this one provided by Ibn Manẓūr:

    التَّحْوِيرُ: التببيض. والــحَوارِيُّــونَ: القَصَّارُونَ لتبييضهم

    لأَنهم كانوا قصارين ثم غلب حتى صار كل ناصر وكل حميم حَوارِيّــاً. وقال بعضهم:

    الــحَوارِيُّــونَ صَفْوَةُ الأَنبياء الذين قد خَلَصُوا لَهُمْ؛ وقال

    الزجاج: الــحواريــون خُلْصَانُ الأَنبياء، عليهم السلام، وصفوتهم. قال: والدليل

    على ذلك قول النبي، صلى الله عليه وسلم: الزُّبَيْرُ ابن عمتي

    وحَوارِيَّ من أُمَّتِي؛ أَي خاصتي من أَصحابي وناصري. قال: وأَصحاب النبي، صلى

    الله عليه وسلم، حواريــون، وتأْويل الــحواريــين في اللغة الذين أُخْلِصُوا

    ونُقُّوا من كل عيب؛ وكذلك الحُواَّرَى من الدقيق سمي به لأَنه يُنَقَّى من

    لُباب البُرِّ؛ قال: وتأْويله في الناس الذي قد روجع في اختِياره مرة بعد

    مرة فوجد نَقِيّاً من العيوب
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