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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arabic loanwords in English are words acquired directly from Arabic or else indirectly by passing from Arabic into a third language (often Latin or Spanish) and then into English. Some of these Arabic loanwords are not of ancient Arabic origin, but are loanwords within Arabic itself, coming into Arabic from Persian, Greek or other languages.

To qualify for this list, a word must be reported in leading etymology dictionaries as having an Arabic origin. A handful of etymology dictionaries has been used as the source for the list.[1] In cases where the dictionaries disagree, the minority view is omitted. Rare and arcane words are also omitted. A bigger listing including many words very rarely seen in English is at En.Wiktionary.Org.

Dozens of the stars in the night sky have Arabic name etymologies. These are listed separately at List of Arabic Star Names.

Loanwords listed in alphabetical order

A

admiral 
أميرالبحار, amīr al-bihār commander of the seas.
adobe 
الطوب aṭ-ṭūb, the bricks.
albacore 
الباكورة al-bakūra, perhaps from bakūr, premature.
albatross (or algatross) 
الغطاس al-γaṭṭās (or al-ghaṭṭās), the diver.
alchemy 
الكيمياء alkīmiyā. The Arab word had its origin in the Greek word χημία, χημεία khēmia, khēmeia, but the word entered into Medieval Latin via the Arabs, particularly Alexandrian alchemists.[2]
alcohol 
الغول - الكحول in the literature of late European alchemy, the quintessence of an earthly substance. See kohl in this list. The idea of "quintessences of earthly substances" and the use of "alcohol" to denote quintessences are developments in European alchemy in the 14th century. From the 1500s on, the denotation of "alcohol" narrowed down to "quintessence of wine" or "spirit of wine", i.e., ethanol, CH3CH2OH, as the term "alcool vini" (quintessence of wine) got shortened to "alcool" or "alcohol". The term alco(h)ol vini supplanted the original quinta essentia vini, "fifth essence of wine".[3]
alcove 
قبة - طاقة al-qubba, "the vault".
alembic 
الإنبيق al-anbiq, "still" (the distillation device), from Greek ἄμβιξ ambix, stem ambik-, "cup", Latin alembicus, and French alambic.
algebra 
الجبر al-jabr, the restoring of missing parts. The modern mathematical sense comes from the title of the book al-kitāb al-mukhtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-jabr wa-l-muqābala, "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing" by the 9th-century mathematician Abu Ja'far Muḥammad ibn Mūsa al-Khwārizmī.
algorithm and algorism  
الخوارزمي al-khwārizmī, a short name for the mathematician Muḥammad ibn Mūsa al-Khwārizmī. The appellation al-Khwārizmī means "from Khwārizm".
alidade 
عضادة , عِضَادة . A surveying instrument.
alizarin
العصارة al-ʕaṣārah, the juice. A dye.
alkali 
القلي from qalā, to fry, to roast. 'Alkali' originally meant a saline substance derived from the ashes of plants.
almanac 
المناخal-manākh, "the climate", possibly from Greek αλμενιχιακόν almenichiakon, calendar
alfalfa
al-fisfisa, fresh fodder [7]
amalgam
الملغم al-malgham. [8]
amber
العنبر amber/anbar, yellow [9]
aniline 
نيلة - صبغ النيل al-nili, from Sanskrit नीली nili. [4][5]
apricot
البرقوق al-birquq
arsenal 
دار الصناعة dār aṣ-ṣināʕa, house of manufacturing
artichoke 
الخرشوف al-xurshūf
assassin 
حشاشين ḥashshāshīn, Arabic designation of the Nizari branch of the Ismā'īlī Shia Muslims during the Middle Ages, literally 'users of hashish.
attar
عطر itr/utur, perfume,aroma. [10]
aubergine 
الباذنجان al-bādhinjān, from Persian بادنجان bâdinjân ultimately from the Sanskrit वातिगगम vatin gana.
azimuth 
السموت as-sumūt, the paths
azure 
الزورد al-lazward, 'lapis lazuli' - from Persian.

B

benzoin, benzene 
لبان جاوي labān jāwī, "frankincense of Java". Benzoin is an organic chemical solvent extracted from a resin of an Asian tree.
bezoar
بظهر bazahr, from Persian پادزهر pâdzahr.
bonito
بينيت bainīth.
borage, boraginaceae
Today a large family of plants (2000 species). Some had medicinal use in medieval times and the word comes from Arabic أبو أرق abū ‘āraq meaning "sweat inducer" [6]. Some plants of the borage family are named Alkanet, from Arabic علقنا al kanna, from Arabic حنة henna.[6]
borax
بورق buraq, from Persian.

C

caliber 
قالب qâlib, 'mould', derived from Arabic.[7]
camphor
كافور kafur. [11]
candy
قند qandi, Arabic word in turn from Persian قند qand "cane (sugar)", in turn probably from Sanskrit खुड् khanda "piece (of sugar)"
carat
قرأت qirat, from Greek κεράτιον keration, “carob seed”.
carafe 
from غراف‎ gharrāfa, see decanter.[6]
caraway 
كراوية karāwiya
carmine 
ultimately from Sanskrit कृमिज krmi-ja. See 'kermes' below.
carob 
خرّوب xarrūb, (1) locust; (2) carob bean
carrack 
this is a type of ship, from قرقر qarāqīr plural of قرقور qurqur
checkmate 
شاه مات shah māt, 'The king is dead'[8]
chemistry 
see alchemy in this list
cipher 
صفر sifr, zero
civet
زباد zaba’d [12]
coffee 
قهوة qahwa, itself possibly from Kefa, Ethiopia, where the plant originated.
cotton 
قُطْن qutun
crimson 
الكرمزي qirmazi, related to the قرمز qirmiz, the insect that provided the dye; from Sanskrit कृमिज krmi-ja.[5]
curcuma, curcumin
plant species and yellow dye, was used in medieval alchemy, from Arabic word كركم kurkum =saffron, turmeric.[13]

D

divan
ديوان dīwān, from Persian.
dragoman 
ترجمان tarjumān, from Aramaic ܬܘܪܓܗܡܐܢܐ turgemānā, in turn from Akkadian.[9]

E

elixir 
الإكسير al-'iksīr, (1) philosopher's stone; (2) medicinal potion. From Greek ξήριον xērion, powder for drying wounds

F

fanfare 
from Arabic فرفر farfar meaning chatterer[6]
fustic 
this dye comes from الفسطيط أو الفستيق fosṭeeṭ, ultimately from Greek πιστακη pistakē, pistachio tree[9]

G

garble 
ياربالا γarbala, sift; ultimately from Latin cribellum, sieve
gauze 
ّقز qazz, in turn from Persian kazh (كژ) "raw silk".
gazelle 
غزال ghazāl
gerbil 
See jerboa in this list; the word "gerbil" is a European created diminutive of "jerboa", but the words refer to distinct species.
ghoul 
غول ghūl
giraffe 
زرافة zarāfa

H

harem 
حريم harīm, forbidden thing or place
hashish 
حشيش hashīsh, grass, Cannabis
hazard 
from French 'hasart', probably through Spanish, from Arabic الزر al-zār, the die[5]; said by William of Tyre to be ultimately from the name of Castle Hasart' or 'Asart' in Syria[5]
henna 
حنة hinna

I-J

ifrit 
عفريت Ifreet an ancient demon.
jar 
جرة jarrah, earthen vase
jasmine, jessamine
from Arabic ياسمين yas(a)min. [14]
jinn 
Arabic is الجن al Jinn (note that genie is not derived from this, though it may be influenced by it)
jerboa 
جربوع jarbūa. See also gerbil in this list.
julep 
from Arabic جلب julab[6]
Jumper (dress) 
from Arabic جيوبه jubbah, a "loose outer garment"[6]

K

kermes 
قرمز qirmiz ultimately from Sanskrit कृमिज krmi-ja, worm-produced[5]
kohl 
الكحل al-kuhl, kohl, powdered stibnite

L

lacquer
لك lakk.
lilac
from Arabic للك lilak, from Pers. لیلک lilak, variant of نیلک nilak "bluish," from नील nila "indigo" [15]
Lemon
ليمون "citrus fruit,".
lime
ليمه leemah "citrus fruit," a back-formation or a collective noun from ليمون laymun "lemon"[16]
loofah 
from the Egyptian Arabic word lūfa لوفه.
lute 
العود al-ʕūd, "the oud", a forerunner of the guitar.

M

macrame 
ميقراما miqrama, embroidered veil (via French)
mafia 
Perhaps محيص mahyas, "aggressive, boasting, bragging."[10]; but the OED suggests another Arabic derivation, from Sicilian marfusu ('scoundrel'), from Spanish marfuz ('traitor') from Arabic مرفوض marfud ('outcast')
magazine 
مخازين makhāzin, storehouses,
marcasite 
Arabic مارقاشيتا marqashīṭā meant pyrite minerals in medieval alchemy. In English marcasite today is a type of pyrite.[6]
mattress 
مطرح matrah, (1) spot where something is thrown down; (2) mat, cushion
mocha 
مخا al-mukhā, city of Mocha, Yemen
mohair 
مخير mukhayyar, having the choice
monsoon 
موسم mawsim, season
mummy  
موميا mūmiyyā, embalmed corpse (ultimately from Persian).
muslin 
derived from the name of the Iraqi city of موصل Mosul, where cotton fabric was manufactured

N

nadir 
نظير naẓīr, parallel or counterpart
nunation 
from the Arabic name of the 'n' sound: nuun نون . Medical term: overly frequent or abnormal use (as in stammering) of the sound of the letter n.

O

orange
From Arabic word نارنج naranj, from Tamil நரம் nāram via Sanskrit नारङ्ग nāraṅga and Persian نارنگ nārang.

P

popinjay 
ببفا babaγā Parrot.

Q

qat / khat 
قات kat The plant Catha edulis.

R

racquet or 'racket' 
راحة rāhah, palm of the hand
realgar 
رهج الغار rahj al-ghar,[9] a mineral
ribes 
today a genus of bushy plants which includes the blackcurrants and gooseberries, the word comes from medieval Arabic ريباس ribas. The Arabic meaning included sorrel plants.[6]
ream (quantity of sheets of paper) 
رزمة rizma, bale, bundle
roc
روخخ rukhkh, possibly from Persian رخ rokh.

S

safari
from Swahili safari, journey, in turn from (Arabic: سفر‎, safar). [17]
safflower
عصفر , أصفر asfar, yellow .
saffron 
زعفران zaffarān (or zaffarān), species of crocus plant bearing orange stigmas and purple flowers.
sash 
شاش shāsh, wrap of muslin. See muslin in this list.
scarlet 
from Arabic siqillat or siqlat meaning "fine cloth" (cloth of various colors but red most common)[6]
serendipity 
from Serendip, a fairy tale place, from Sarandib, the Arab word for Sri Lanka[6]
sequin 
صقع sikka, die, coin
sherbet, sorbet, syrup 
شراب sharāb, a drink
soda, sodium 
Arguably from سوادة suwwāda, سويد suwayd, or سويدة suwayda, a species of plant whose ashes yield sodium carbonate[11], and alternatively from Arabic suda or laksa'uda, meaning headache, which becomes a name for a headache remedy in Latin sodanum.[12]
sofa 
صفة suffa, stone ledge
spinach 
from Arabic سبانخ isbanakh, earlier يسفاناخ isfānākh, from Persian اسپاخ/افخ isfānākh/aspanakh. "It was the Arabs who introduced the spinach into Spain, whence it spread to the rest of Europe."[6]
sugar
سكّر sukkar, sugar, ultimately from Sanskrit शर्करा sharkara, gravel, pebbles [5] [18]
sumac
summāq "سمَاق", from Arabic.

T

tahini 
طحين ṭaḥīn, flour, which derives from the Arabic verb for "grind"
talc 
طلق ṭalq, from Persian.
tamarind 
تمر هندي tamr-hindī, date of India
tare 
tarḥa, a discard (something discarded)[9]
tariff 
تعريفة taʕrīfa (or ta9rīfa), act of making known; notification
tazza 
طشت ṭašt, round, shallow, drinking cup made of metal. Amer. Heritage Dict.

U-Z

zenith 
سمت الرأس samt ar-ra's, zenith, vertex
zero 
صفر sifr, cipher, zero.
zircon, zirconium 
A mineral in Arabic alchemy, from Arabic zarqūn (زرقون) meaning bright red, from Persian zargun (زرگون) meaning golden-colored[6]
Contents Top · 0–9 · A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Words that may be Arabic loanwords

average 
عوارية (بضاعة اصابها عطب في البحر) - متوسط of disputed origin; possibly from ʕawārīya, damaged merchandise, or from Italian avere or French avoir, property, from Latin habere, to have
baccalaureate 
It has been suggested [19] that the Latin and general European term 'baccalaureatus' derives from the Arabic phrase bi-haqq al-riwayati, which occurs in Ijazah degrees that were awarded by Madrassas (Islamic schools) as early as 1147 CE. The OED, while admitting that its origins are not clear, do not link it to Arabic.
barbican or Barbacan
Outer fortification of a city or castle, perhaps from Arabic or Persian ‘ باب خانه bab-khanah =gate-house".[20], [21]
caramel 
origin is uncertain; usually derived from a Latin root, but according to the OED "An Arabic source is conjectured by Littré".
drub
possibly Arabic 'daraba', "beat". (OED).
gala
perhaps from Arabic khil'a, fine garment given as a presentation. [22]; so far certainly rooted in French gala, show - from Italian gala, finery[5]
gibberish
جابر jabir; the name of the Arabic alchemist, Jabir ibn Hayyan, whose name was Latinized as "Geber".[13]
mascara 
uncertain origin; possibly from مسخرة maskhara "buffoon" or from an unknown language. In modern Arabic maskhara means to ridicule
massage 
uncertain whether ultimately from either Arabic مسح massa, to stroke, or from Greek massein, to knead
monkey 
Monequin is old French (recorded as Monnekin by Hainault in 14c.). May be a diminutive of a personal name, or could be from the general Romanic word and this could ultimately be from the Arabic maimun "monkey," literally "auspicious," but a euphemism, since the sight of apes was held by some Arabs to be unlucky. See Dictionary Reference.com.
Mulatto
disputed etymology either from Spanish (mulato, diminutive of 'mule') or Arabic.
rice
"riz", from Arabic رز. ; usually derived as O. Fr. ris, from Latin and Greek oryza, ultimately Tamil arisi [5]
risk
possibly from Arabic rizq, but also argued to be from Greek [23].
satin 
probably from Arabic zaytūnī, of Zaytun, or Late Latin seta, silk
talisman
a blend of the Arabic loan from Greek and the Greek itself [24]
tobacco
usually supposed to be from Haitian, but possibly an application of an already existing European loan from Arabic tabbaq.[25]
toque
kind of round hat, possibly from Arabic taqa.
traffic
tafriq, distribution. According to [26], 'Klein suggests ultimate derivation of the It. word from Arabic tafriq "distribution."'

Notes about the list

The various etymology dictionaries are not always consistent with each other. This reflects differences in judgment about the reliability or uncertainty of a given etymological derivation. In cases where one dictionary reports an Arabic etymology but it's not supported by reports in other leading dictionaries, the word doesn't qualify for inclusion on the list.

Obsolete or very rarely used non-technical words are not included in the list (even when the etymology dictionaries include them), but some specialist technical words are included. For example, the technical word "alidade" is the Arabic name for an ancient measuring instrument used by surveyors to determine line-of-sight direction. Despite few English-speaking people being acquainted with it, the device's name remains part of the traditional craft of English-speaking surveyors, and is included in the list.

The above listing has been restricted to loan words: It excludes loan translations (aka calques). Here's an example of a loan translation. The amygdala is a modern scientific word for a structure in the brain. The word comes from the Greek for almond. The structure has a physical resemblence to an almond. The almond resemblence was first conceived by Arab physicians, who labelled the structure "al-lauzatan", which is almond in Arabic. Europeans later directly translated "al-lauzatan" into Latin by using the Greek word "amygdala" for it.[14] Amygdala is thus an Arabic loan translation, not a loan word. Another example of a technical Arabic loan translation is dura mater. The dura mater is the tough outer layer of membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Quoting an etymology dictionary: "Medieval Latin "dura mater cerebri", literally "hard mother of the brain," a loan-translation of Arabic umm al-dimagh as-safiqa, literally "thick mother of the brain". In Arabic, the words 'father,' 'mother,' and 'son' are often used to denote relationships between things."[15] The word "sine" -- as in sine, cosine and tangent -- is another example of an Arabic loan translation.[16] The majority of Arabic loanwords can be traced to the medieval Islamic Golden Age, but these examples of loan translations indicate that the medieval translators from Arabic to Latin brought in some unquantified number of Arabic words via loan translations in preference to loans.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ The etymology dictionaries used to compile this list are primarily these: Ernest Weekley Etymology Dictionary (1921), Eric Partridge Etymology Dictionary (1966), Douglas Harper Etymology Dictionary (2001), John Ayto Etymology Dictionary (2005). See References at foot of this page for other sources used.
  2. ^ Further comments about the etymology of 'alchemy' at [1] and [2].
  3. ^ Priesner and Figala, entry on "Alkohol"
  4. ^ Merriam-Webster Online - Aniline
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Chambers 20th Century Dictionary", E. M. Kirkpatrick (ed.), W & R Chambers Limited, Edinburgh, 1983
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Etymology Dictionaries available online: Ernest Weekley Etymology Dictionary (1921), Eric Partridge Etymology Dictionary (1966), Douglas Harper Etymology Dictionary (2001), John Ayto Etymology Dictionary (2005)
  7. ^ Harper, Douglas. "caliber". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=caliber. 
  8. ^ Harper, Douglas. "checkmate". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=checkmate. 
  9. ^ a b c d Collins English Dictionary (1979)
  10. ^ Harper, Douglas. "mafia". Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=mafia. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  11. ^ According to: Bloch & von Wartburg (1950); and Webster's (1934); and Harper (2001).
  12. ^ According to: Weekley (1921); and Partridge (1966).
  13. ^ Seaborg, Glenn T. (March 1980), "Our heritage of the elements", Metallurgical and Materials Transactions B (Springer Boston) 11 (1): 5–19 
  14. ^ Source: [3].
  15. ^ Quote from Online Etymology Dictionary by Douglas Harper, which in turn is quoting the etymology expert Ernest Klein.
  16. ^ Reported by these etymology dictionaries: [4], [5], [6]

References and external links

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