All dialects/MSA: Cat

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Josh_

Senior Member
U.S., English
I was looking through my Palestinian Arabic dictionary and I noticed it said that the normal word for cat in Palestinian Arabic is 'biss' (بـِس ?). I then looked under 2uTT (quTT) and it said this was mainly just used in proverbs.

I was wondering if this is true. I would also be interested in knowing the etymology of biss as I found it interesting because the interjection used in Egyptian Arabic to call a cat is bisbis (which is similar to the sound 'psst' used to get someone's (usually a human) attention, but that's a side point) The verb to call a cat is basbis, yibasbis, and the maSdar basbasa.
 
  • elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Yes, بِس (biss) or بِسة (bisse) is how you say "cat" in Palestinian Arabic. We recognize قُط ('uTT) but we don't say it. As the dictionary says, it's used mainly in proverbs, like ذكرنا القُط أجالنا ينُط (zakarna 'l-uTT, ajaalna ynuTT).

    We also say زَي البِسة (zay il-bisse -"like a cat" - a reference to cowardice or wimpiness), and there's a children's song that starts out عندي بيسي إسما سيسي (l"3indi biisii isma siisii" - "I have a cat; her name is Sisi" - here "bisse" is elongated to "biisii" to match the rhythm).

    I'm not sure what the etymology is, but we also use "bisbis" to call a cat.

    Maybe that's what led to the word بِس?
     

    Heba

    Senior Member
    Egypt, Arabic
    The word ''bis'' is not widely used in Egypt to refer to a cat, I guess that it is restricted to some parts in Upper Egypt and in rural regions.
    I always believed that the word is not arabic; I believe it is taken from the name of the cat ''bast'' or ''bastet'' which Ancient Egyptians worshiped.

    I hope Cherine will tell us if it is originally arabic or not.
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    Yeah, that's what struck me as interesting. The word 2uTT is used in Egyptian, and, in fact, I had never heard of biss being another word for cat until I was looking through that dictionary, but I knew that bisbis is a word used to call a cat.
     

    zooz

    Senior Member
    Arabic & Syrian Arabic
    moreover:

    Syrian dialects: قط/قطة ، هارون.....(the ق is always pronounced as أ in the cities)​
    Lebanese: بسيني
    Saudi: بس/بسة ، عُرّي
     

    ayed

    Senior Member
    Arabic(Saudi)
    In some regions of Saudi Arabia , people say:
    بس "bss"is of Farsi origin which means "enough".
    Example, when I give someone more than he needs , he says:"...Bss..Bss...".That is , enough..enough.
    --------------------------
    بس Biss means :
    1.Qitt(Masculine)
    2.Qittah(Feminine)
    3.Hirr(Masculine)
    4.Hirrah(Feminine)
    5.al-Bss , singular "Bssah" some people say"Bissah"

    (Cf., Lisan al-Arab--The Tongue of Arab,Ibn Mandhoor, 1232 ~ 1311 A.C)
    ---------------------
    Colloquial , we say:
    Qatwah(F)
    Qatuo(M)
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Heba said:
    The word ''bis'' is not widely used in Egypt to refer to a cat, I guess that it is restricted to some parts in Upper Egypt and in rural regions.
    Yes, in Egypt we say otta أُطّة (yes, feminine not masculine :) ) unless we want to sepcify the sex of the animal, the we say Ott.
    As for bis, in rural areas -like Heba said- people don't use ott nor otta, but bissa (pronounced like in ash-shaam "bisseh").
    I think the reason why you've never heard it Josh is that you haven't been to such areas :)

    I always believed that the word is not arabic; I believe it is taken from the name of the cat ''bast'' or ''bastet'' which Ancient Egyptians worshiped.
    Very good explanation Heba, I believe that too.
    As for how come an old Egyptian word moved to Palestine, the reason I guess is very simple : there have been very close relations between Ancient Egypt and its neighbors, hence it's logical that words "move" accross borders.

    This is of course true in the case no one has better explanation :D
     

    fatiha

    Senior Member
    Arabic - Morocco
    Ah I like very much animals, the best creature in this life

    i Moroccan we called - cat- قط أو مش
    قطة أو مشة
    And naturally when you see one cat everywhere and you say to it : bsssssssbssss it cames after you...

    really I love very very much all animals in this planet

    فاتحة
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Interesting indeed, because it's very common in Egypt calling a cat meshmesh (as a name ; like you'd give your pet a name with which you call it), people also call their cats boossy بوسى (or poosy) maybe it's derived from the "bessa" :)
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Actually I was considering it the other way round :D But we won't know unless we can find which word was used first : bissa or pussy ?
    If the word bissa did really originate from a pharonic goddess, then I think it's a bit hard that the English word is precedent to the Arabic colloquial one.
    Just guessing. What do you think ?
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    cherine said:
    Interesting indeed, because it's very common in Egypt calling a cat meshmesh (as a name ; like you'd give your pet a name with which you call it), people also call their cats boossy بوسى (or poosy) maybe it's derived from the "bessa" :)
    I did not know that mishmish could be used as a name cat, but I knew that بوسى was used -- that I do believe is an introduction to Arabic, from either English or a Teutonic Language. The OED say that "puss" is common in many Teutonic languages meaning cat. It doesn't give the origin, though, but Arabic was not mentioned anywhere. It would be interesting to know if this somehow came into (Palestinian) Arabic as biss.
     

    catz013

    New Member
    Singapore and English
    Hi all,

    I'm a little confused. How do you then call a cat in arabic? I'm looking for an Arabic name.

    [...]
    Cheers.
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    Yes, بِس (biss) or بِسة (bisse) is how you say "cat" in Palestinian Arabic. We recognize قُط ('uTT) but we don't say it. As the dictionary says, it's used mainly in proverbs, like ذكرنا القُط أجالنا ينُط (zakarna 'l-uTT, ajaalna ynuTT).
    "We mentioned the cat and it came to us jumping"? Is that right? What does that proverb mean?
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    I always considered this to be similar to the English "pussy", and in English when calling a cat we use "here puss puss".

    As Arabic doesn't have the "p" letter, it seemed to me it was like "bussy" but the first vowel was an "i" instead of "u".
     

    suma

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, USA
    It's likely that both the Arabic biss and English pussy both come from some more ancient parent language.

    Since cats have been around people for so long and they are so prevalent, it doesn't make sense that each language would not have already had it's own word for it, so there would have been no need to borrow from another langauge.
     

    licinio

    Senior Member
    Italian
    A Syrian variant I have heard is
    ذكرنا القط قام نط
    And also another lovely Levantine saying to do with cats
    لا من تمه ولا من كمه... القط بياكل عشاه!!
    سلامات
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Saudi: بس/بسة ، عُرّي
    Just as a correction, In the Hejaz, they might say بسة or عرّي, but in Nejd the word used is "قطو" or "قطوة" (plural قطاوة) (Gattu, Gattwah, plural Gtawa). The Gulf is probably the same as Nejd in this, but I'm not 100% sure.

    The term "Saudi accent" is a huge pet peeve of mine :)
     

    abofaris

    New Member
    arabic
    I now it's old post put I have some information that cat called (Her) in Arabic هر لأن أحد صحابة النبي صلى الله عليه وسلك كان يدعى أبى هريرة وهو تصغير للهرbut (قطة) come from (cat)and (بس) too come from (pussycat).
     

    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    Actually, bis meaning cat is Arabic. Check this:

    لسان العرب:
    بَسَّ الرجل الإبلَ يَبُسُّ بَسًّا ساقها سوقَا لَيِّنًا وَزَجَرَهَا بِبِسْ بِسْ والشَّيءَ طَلَبَهُ واجتهد فيه.
    الْبَسُّ الْهِرَّة الأهلية الواحدة بَسَّة وَالْعَامَّة تكسر اَلبَاءفيهما.
    الْبَسُوس الناقة التي لا تَدُرُّ إلاعلى الإبْسَاس أَي التلطُّف بأن يُقال لها بِسْ بِسْ تسكينا لها.
    القاموس المحيط
    البَسُّ: السَّوْقُ اللَّيِّنُ وزَجْرٌ للإبِلِ بِبَسْ بسْ كالإِبْساس وإرْسالُ المالِ في البلاد وتَفْريقُها والطَّلَبُ والجَهْدُ والهِرَّةُ الأَهْلِية والعامَّةُ تَكْسِرُ الباءَ الواحِدَةُبهاءٍ
    والبَسُوسُ الناقَةُ التي لا تَدُرُّ إلاَّ على الإِبْسَاسِ أيً التَّلَطُّفِ بأن يقالَ لها بَسْ بَسْ تَسكيناً لها وبَسْ بِسْ مُثَلَّثَيْنِ دُعاءٌ للغَنَمَ
    وأبَسَّ بالمَعَزِ إِبْساساً أشْلاها إلى الماءِ.

    تاج العروس:
    البَسُّ: السَّوْقُ اللَّيِّنُ الرَّفيقُ اللَّطيفُ، كما أَنَّ الخُبزَ هو السَّوْق ٌالشَّديد العَنيفُ، وقد بَسَّ الإبلَ بَسّاً: ساقَها، قال الرَّاجِزُ:
    لا تَخْبِزاخَبْزاً وبُسّا بَسّا === ولا تُطِي لابمُناخٍ حَبْسا

    البَسُّ: زَجْرٌ للإبل بِبَسْ بَسْ، بكسرهما وبفتحِهما كالإبْساسِ وقد بَسَّ بها يَبُسُّويَبِسُّ وأَبَسَّ، ومنه الحديث: " يخرُج قومٌ من المدينةِ إلى الشَّام واليَمَنِ والعِراقِ يُبِسُّونَ والمَدينةُ خَيْرٌ لهم لو كانوا يعلَمون" قال أَبو عُبيد: قوله يُبِسُّونَ هو أَن يُقالَ في زَجْرِ الدَّابَّةِ إذا سِيقَتْ حِماراً أَوغَيْرَه بَسْ بَسْ، وبِسْ بِسْ، بفتح الباء وكَسرِها، وأَكثر ما يُقال بالفتح، وهو من كلام أَهل اليَمَن، وفيه لغتانِ بَسَسْتُها وأَبْسَسْتُه. البَسُّ: الهِرَّةُ الأَهلِيَّةُ، نقله ابن عبّادِ، والعامَّةُ تَكْسِرُ الباءَ، قاله الزَّمخشريُّ، الواحِدَةُ بهاءٍ، والجَمْعُ بِساسٌ. يقال: جاء به من حسِّه وبسِّه،
    والبَسُوس،كصَبُور: الناقةُ التي لا تدُرُّ إلاّ على الإبْساس، أي التَّلَطُّف بأن يقال لها بس ابن السِّكِّيت بالضَّمّ والتشديد، قاله ابنُ دُرَيْد، تَسْكِيناً لها، قال: وقد يقال ذلك لغَيرِ الإبل. وفي المثَل: أَشْأَمُ منَ البَسُوس.
    الوسيط
    وبِسْ بِسْ : ضرب من زجر الإِبل , وقد أَبَّسَ بها . وبَس بَسْوبِسْ بِسْمن زجر الدابة , بَسَّ بها يَبُسُّ وأَبَسَّ
    وأَكثر ما يقال بالفتح , وهو صوت الزجر للسَّوْق , وهو من كلام أَهل اليمن , وفيه لغتان : بَسَسْتُها وأَبْسَسْتُها إِذا سُقْتَها وزجَرْتها وقلت لها : بِسْ بِسْ , فيقال على هذا يَبُسُّون ويُبِسِّون . وأَبَسَّ بالغنم إِذا أَسْلاها إِلى الماء . وأَبْسَسْتُ بالغنم إِبْسَاساً . وقال أَبو زيد : أَبْسَسْتُ بالمَعَز إِذا أَشلَيْتَها إِلى الماء . وأَبَسَّ بالإِبل عند الحلب إِذا دعا الفصيل إِلى أُمه , وأَبَسَّ بأُمه له . التهذيب : وأَبْسَسْتُ بالإِبل عند الحلب , وهو صُويْتُ الراعي تسكن به الناقة عندالحلب . وناقة بَسُوسٌ تَدِرُّ عندالإِبْساس وبَسْبَسَ بالناقة كذلك ; وقال الراعي :
    لعَاشِرَةٍ وهو قد خافَها , ==== فَظَلَّ يُبَسْبِسُ أَويَنْقُر


    while Bas meaning "enough" is Persian:

    وبّسْ بمعنى حَسْبُ، أَو هو مُسْتَرْذَلٌ، كذا قاله ابن فارس، ووَقَعَ في المُزْهِر ِأَيضاً أنّه ليس بعربيٍّ، قال شَيْخُنا: وقد صحَّحَها بعضُ أئمّةِ اللُّغَة، وفي الكَشْكول للبَهاءِ العامِلِيِّ ما نصُّه: ذكرَ بعضُ أئمّة اللُّغَة أنّ لَفْظَة َبَسْ فارِسيّةٌ تقولُها العامّةُ، وتصَرَّفوا فيها، فقالوا بَسَّكَ وبَسِّي، إلخ،وليس للفُرْسِ في معناها كلمةٌ سِواها، وللعربِ حَسْبُ، وبَجَلْ، وقَطْ مُخَفَّفة، وأَمْسِك، واكْفُفْ، وناهِيكَ، ومَه، ومَهْلاً، واقْطَعْ، واكْتَفِ.

    Another nice piece of information is that a cat has 6 names in Arabic:
    الهر، القط، البس، السنور، الضَيْوَن، الخيطل
    each is used in the male and female.
     

    Qittat Ulthar

    Senior Member
    Dutch (Netherlands)
    According to Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, puss is thought to possibly have been derived from the hissing spitting of a cat. biss may then very well have been derived from the same.
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    Actually, I think what you meant is that it is thought to have possibly been derived from the hissing sound used to call a cat -- commonly spelled pstt! (sometimes with varying number of s's and t's) when written. Now, this meaning of hiss, to make a sharp, prolonged 's' sound, should not be confused with the sound a cat makes when it is upset and trying to scare another animal away, also represented by the word hiss.
     

    Drudge

    New Member
    British English
    That's interesting, Fatiha -- another different word for cat. I assume the pronunciation is mish ( مِش ) and misha ( مِشة ), right?
    I wonder if this has any connection with the Italian word Micio used informally for a cat? (The formal word being, Gatto) The Le Monnier Dizionario della Lingua Italiana suggests the origin is onomatopoeic from infant speech, but misha and micia (F) sound very similar to me.
    Just a thought.
     

    Qittat Ulthar

    Senior Member
    Dutch (Netherlands)
    Actually, I think what you meant is that it is thought to have possibly been derived from the hissing sound used to call a cat -- commonly spelled pstt! (sometimes with varying number of s's and t's) when written. Now, this meaning of hiss, to make a sharp, prolonged 's' sound, should not be confused with the sound a cat makes when it is upset and trying to scare another animal away, also represented by the word hiss.
    No, I was a bit amazed by it as well, but it said the sound made by a cat, not the sound used for calling a cat. In Thai a cat is Mau, which makes more sense...
     
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