Finding What Suits You: Shopping in Arabic for Clothes

Finding What Suits You: Shopping in Arabic for Clothes


Whether you’ve started working in an Arabic speaking country and need a new suit or are just visiting and looking for a souvenir t-shirt, learning Arabic for ملابس malaabis (clothes) is essential for getting exactly what you want in your size. The following table shows you some vocabulary for clothes and accessories in Arabic:

English Transliteration Arabic
pants sirwaal سروال
shirt qamiis قميص
coat mi’Taf معطف
dress fustan فستان
belt Hizaam حزام
hat qubba’a قبعة
socks jawaarib جوارب
shoes ‘aHdiya حذاء
ring khaatim خاتم
watch saa’a ساعة



Once you’ve found the clothing item that you are looking for, next you have to make sure it’s the correct بحجم bihajm (size). Be careful when shopping in Arabic stores for malaabis, as many carry products from China which tend to run smaller than those found in the West. For example, what might be an XL in America may actually be an XXL in an Arab clothing store.
The four standard clothes sizes are:

English Arabic Transliteration Size
small صغير Saghiir American size [Men’s]:
34–36;
American size [Women’s]:
6–8
medium وسط waSat American size [Men’s]:
38–40;
American size [Women’s]:
10–12
large كبير kabiir American size [Men’s]:
42–44;
American size [Women’s]:
14–16
extra large   zaa’id kabiir American size [Men’s]:
46
American size [Women’s]:
18–20 


When shopping for clothes, one more important thing to thing the لون lawn (color). As الألوان ‘alawaan (colors) are adjectives that describe nouns, a lawn absolutely has to agree with the noun in terms of gender in Arabic.
For example, if you’re describing a feminine noun, you have to use the feminine form of the lawn. Likewise, when describing masculine nouns, you have to use the masculine forms. Now the question that always arises when it comes to gender in Arabic nouns is: How do you know whether a noun is feminine or masculine? Well, almost all, but not exactly all situations, feminine nouns end with a fatHa, or the “ah” sound. For the rest, simply look up the word in the qaamuus (dictionary) or search for using Google on your mobile phone, to determine its gender.
The masculine and feminine forms of some common colors appear in the table below for your reference:

English Color (M) Arabic Color (F) Arabic
white ‘abyaD أبيض bay-dah بيضاء
black ‘aswad أسود saw-dah سوداء
red ‘aHmar أحمر Hamraa’ حمراء
green ‘akhDar أخضر khaDraa’ خضراء
blue ‘azraq أزرق zarqaa’ زرقاء
yellow ‘aSfar أصفر Safraa’ صفراء


It is important to remember that, unlike America, it is sometimes very difficult in Arabic countries to get a refund or exchange when you buy something that either doesn’t fit you properly or is not the right color for you, so do yourself a favor. Most stores have a fitting room. Try the clothes on and make sure they fit and are suitable for you before you make a purchase.
Otherwise, like those ugly sweaters Grandma used to get you for Christmas or your birthday, you’re going to be stuck with it for quite awhile.
By the way, the next time you buy something from a clothing store, the salesperson may complete the sale with “Mabrook!” (meaning “Congratulations!” when translated from Arabic to English.) You can answer with a simple Shukran, or “thank you”.
Now that you have learned is a great time for you to speak Arabic and practice your new words the next time you go shopping.

Remember, kaleela.com is always the perfect fit for anyone who wants to learn Arabic online. If you have any questions or comments or simply want to learn more Arabic, please feel free to drop us a line in the comments section. We’re happy to suit all of your needs.

Gary Greer

Gary Greer was born and raised in the United States.  After an eight year stint in the U.S. Army in 1992, he attended Delaware State University to pursue his B.A. in English Communications to become a writer. Since then he has traveled the globe, living in the Europe and the Middle East, working for such prestigious organizations as the U.S. Army, NAPA Auto Parts, and AMIDEAST, and other well-known organizations, as well.  Gary came to Jordan in 2005, bringing with him a wealth of experience in the fields of Business and Education, and has since implemented and taught specialized English and Business training courses in the Business, Hospitality, Medical and Legal sectors throughout Jordan for TE Data, The Nuqul Group, The Ministry of Justice, The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, UNRWA, and the Mövenpick and Kempinski Hotels, among others. Along with teaching, he has also pursued his dream of becoming a writer and has written and done the voice-over narration of two travel documentaries about Jordan for Seven Stars television worked as an editor for Family Flavours magazine and acted in television advertisements for USAID. He now works as a content writer for Kaleela.com.

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