A crop of an inside page on Mo3jam

What is Mo3jam?

Mo3jam ( معجم ) is a user-generated dictionary of colloquial Arabic. Mo3jam is Arabic for lexicon or dictionary.


It’s basically a website, where users can come in and share what they know about the spoken terms and expressions in the various dialects of Arabic.

Now I know, there have been multiple attempts in the past at documenting colloquial Arabic on the Web. From my initial research, most of this type of content can be found scattered around forum threads, blog posts, forwarded emails, and the occasional dialect-specific website. Mo3jam aims to address these issues, and create a central, multilingual knowledgebase of colloquial Arabic, with emphasis on usability and breadth. Anyone should be able to contribute, with no wiki-bureaucracy or red tape. Instead, quality should derive from consensus.

History Lesson

Like many of you, I always thought, why isn’t there a place like Urban Dictionary for Arabic? Thoughts like these floated in my head for a while when I graduated in June 2007, but I never acted on them until around August 2008. Initial research started then, and I registered the domain names around September. I laid out a basic framework and specification for the website, but then I placed the project on hold until March 2009. That’s when the real drama began.

For the past 4 months, I’ve been developing and designing Mo3jam to bring you a usable phase one running with basic features. What you see now on the website is a result of that effort. Most major dialects of Arabic are currently listed, with a few definitions created by me and a couple of friends. Now that I think about it, four months seems a bit long for the current feature list, but I’ve been juggling between this, a part-time job and other projects, so development took nearly double the time it required.


  1. No registration required.
  2. You can define using Arabic (preferably), English, or French.
  3. In the case you decided to join, creating an account is easy through Facebook Connect, or using the regular registration process.
  4. If a term is already defined, you may still add your own definition. The best definitions bubble to the top through consensus on quality (via voting, and favorites).
  5. A proper multilingual interface (Arabic and English are currently supported).
  6. The website looks pretty, to my eyes at least.
  7. Implements transliteration of Arabic in input fields using Yamli.
  8. Audible pronunciation of terms.
  9. The list of dialects is not fixed. The system is designed such that there may be multiple levels of dialects and sub-dialects. All you need to do is suggest that a dialect be added.
  10. Get feedback on your definitions via a like/dislike and favorites system.
  11. Many more to come.

I must iterate on the fact that this is a developmental version of the site. The feature-set is not complete and bugs may surface at any point. Things like user profiles, password retrieval, commenting, refined listing of definitions are all missing, but should be up pretty soon.

The design of the user interface is influenced by the following: Facebook, StackOverflow, Vimeo, UrbanDictionary, DeviantArt, Wufoo, YouTube, Apple, Google, and my past frustrations with Arabic websites.

If you feel that you want to participate, please do not hesitate to do so. The feeling is natural. Mo3jam thrives on your contributions, and your feedback is all but welcome.

Mo3jam is best viewed on the latest Firefox, Safari, or Chrome. If you must use Internet Explorer, then use version 8. Website is not viewable in IE 6, and I’m proud of that.