Continuing our family vocabulary series, this time we look at siblings. Two Arabic roots can be used to approximate the English word “sibling,” نَسَبَ (nasaba), “to relate,” and قَرُبَ (qaruba), “to be near.” Their derivations that mean “sibling” are نُسَيب (nusayb) and أقرِباء (aqribāʾ), respectively.
“Brother” and “sister” are pretty simple, “brother” being أخ (akh, pl. إخوة ikhwah) and “sister” being its somewhat irregular feminine form, أُخت (ukht, pl. أخوات akhwāt). However, because of the tradition of plural marriage in Arab culture going back to pre-Islamic times, there is additional vocabulary for full brothers and sisters (that is, siblings with whom one shares both father and mother), who may also be called شَقيق (shaqīq) for “brother” and شَقيقة (shaqīqah) for “sister.” This derives from the verb شَقَّ (shaqqa), an example of a tri-consonantal root where the second and third consonants are identical, meaning “to split, tear, rip.” To split what, I don’t know; inheritance maybe? Realistically, أخ and أُخت should meet all your needs pretty well.