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List of Arabic loanwords in English Options
Laila
Posted: Wednesday, July 01, 2009 5:31:19 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/23/2009
Posts: 132
Neurons: 474
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


There are numerous Arabic loanwords in English, i.e., words of English acquired directly from Arabic or indirectly, by passing from Arabic into a third language (often Spanish) and then into English.

But some of these loanwords from Arabic (a Semitic language) are not of Arabic origin: they are loanwords in Arabic itself. Arabic acquired words from Latin, Greek, Persian, or from fellow members of the Afroasiatic language family. Within the Afro-Asiatic language family, Arabic borrowed words from the Semitic languages Hebrew, Aramaic, and Akkadian and the non-Semitic language Coptic (Ancient Egyptian).

Reliability of etymological claims

Speaking about etymological claims in general, interested persons are cautioned to examine them carefully for validity and detail. Many claimed etymologies are difficult to verify. Various dictionaries may differ among themselves on the etymology of a given word, to a minor extent or a major extent. Some etymological claims are nothing more than a speculation as to what the etymology could possibly be; an example of this is the claim that "monkey" derives from Arabic. Speculative claims are identified properly (as being speculative) by some dictionaries and not by other dictionaries. In cases where parts of the claimed etymology are beyond doubt, perusal of various dictionaries may reveal that the dictionaries differ among themselves on the details. Such as zipher[n]

Content and substantiation of list entries

A list of dictionaries consulted has been given. Detailed explanations have been given only for the few loanwords whose interpretation has been impacted by substantial developments in intellectual or social history. For example, the meaning conveyed by "alcohol" seems not to have been borrowed from Arabic, but seems rather to have arisen among European alchemists after the word had been borrowed. Furthermore, efforts have been made to indicate which Arabic words are themselves loanwords. But it has been deemed unnecessary to provide sources or detailed etymologies for the mere purpose of confirming that an entry is indeed an Arabic loanword, given: the ready availability of online dictionaries; the length of this list; and, the fact already mentioned that different dictionaries differ on the details of some word etymologies.

Rationale for inclusion in the list


Words not proven to be Arabic loanwords are listed below separately, following the section for the letter Z.

This list has been edited to serve the purpose of identifying words that represent some lasting influence of one culture upon another, specifically, of the Arabic speaking world upon Europe. Examples of "influence" are: the adoption by European societies of new material objects, technology, intellectual knowledge, ideas, or cultural practices from the Arabic speaking world; the adoption of new words for already possessed material objects, technology, etc. This does not describe the situation of people referring to objects or beliefs in the course of discussing foreign places or societies. For example, the fact that a speaker of English may be curious about boats, beverages, or fairy tales distinctive to Arabic speaking cultures does not make the Arabic language names of boats, beverages, or fairy tale characters loanwords in English.

This principle may be explained by examples. The word "alidade" is the name of a measuring instrument traditionally used by surveyors to determine direction. Although very few English speaking persons have been surveyors, traditionally this device was part of the craft of English speaking surveyors. Also, the name of the Islamic holy city of Mecca has come to mean "a place that is regarded as the center of an activity or interest", and is fairly widely used in this sense by educated people even when they are not Muslim and they are not referring to the city of Mecca itself. Therefore the words "alidade" and "Mecca" rate as additions to English speaking culture and/or technology. By contrast, English speaking people do not use the Arabic word tell meaning 'hill' and would not have occasion to use it except in the context of "this is what Arabs call a hill". Nor do English speaking people refer to fortresses as "alcazars". Spanish speaking people may, but that is a matter of Spanish speaking history or culture, and English speakers would not have occasion to use alcazar except to discuss Spanish history or culture. Similarly, the English language has the word "God". English speakers who have monotheistic religious belief but do not follow Islam use the word "God", not "Allah". Therefore, 'tell', 'alcazar', and 'Allah' do not rate as loanwords in English. As for star names, even astronomy enthusiasts do not know most of the star names of Arabic origin; therefore, Arabic star names are not part of any English speaking subculture, except for a handful of names that refer to the some of the most prominent stars.

For explanations of words pertaining to Arabic speaking cultures, Islamic practices, or Middle Eastern geography, and for words which are loanwords in languages other than English, consult articles addressing those topics.

Phonetic transcriptions

As for phonetic transcriptions, three symbols from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), [ʕ, x, γ] have been consistently applied.

* [ʕ] is found in [ʕarab] 'Arab'. Traditionally, it is spelled with a single opening quote mark, but computer keyboards do not distinguish between opening and closing quote marks.
* [x] is like 'ch' in German, and it is usually spelled 'kh' in spelling Arabic words.
* [γ] (lower case Greek gamma) represents the voiced counterpart of [x].

Other transcriptions use non-IPA symbols which are standard in the literature on Arabic grammar and literature. The numeral '7' denotes the glottal stop as in the middle sound of the English interjection, "uh-oh". When an entire word is spelled in IPA, it is enclosed in square brackets per IPA standard.

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, from Greek khēmia, khēmeia, art of transmuting metals[1]
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".[2][3]
alcove
قبة - طاقة al-qubba, "the vault".
alembic
الإنبيق al-anbiq, "still" (the distillation device), from Greek ambix, stem ambik-, "cup".
algebra
الجبر al-jabr, the restoring of missing parts. This word is reported to have entered Middle English in the sense of 'the setting of broken bones'. The modern mathematical sense comes from the title of a book, al-kitāb al-muxtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-jabr wa-l-muqābala, "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing", by the 9th-century Muslim mathematician Muḥammad ibn Mūsa al-Xwārizmī. The appellation al-xwārizmī means literally "the Khwārizmian", referring to Khwārizm, now Khiva, in Uzbekistan. Another legacy of this mathematician is that his appellation gave rise to the word algorithm الخوارزمية.
algorism
[1] see algorithm in this list.
algorithm or algorism
الخوارزمي al-xwārizmī, the Khwārizmian. Appellation of the Persian scientist, Muḥammad ibn Mūsa al-Xwārizmī, who wrote the first book on algebra. See algebra in this list
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-manāx (or al-manākh), "the climate", possibly from Greek almenichiakon, calendar
alfalfa
al-fisfisa, fresh fodder [2]
alkanet
الحنة '"al-hinna'"=the henna.[3]
amalgam
الملغم al-malgham. [4]
amber
amber/anbar, yellow [5]
aniline
نيلة - صبغ النيل al-nili, from Persian and Sanskrit[citation needed]
apricot
البرقوق al-birquq
arsenal
دار الصناعة dār aṣ-ṣināʕa, house of manufacturing
artichoke
الخرشوف al-xurshūf or from ardi chawki meaning "land thorn"
assassin
حشاشين ḥashshāshīn, those who use hashish (cannabis resin).
attar
عطر itr/utur, perfume,aroma. [6]
aubergine
الباذنجان al-bādhinjān, from Persian bâdinjân ultimately from the Sanskrit vatin gana.
azimuth
السموت as-sumūt, the paths
azure
الزورد al-lazward, 'lapis lazuli' - from Persian.

B

barding (archaic term for horse armour)
bardaʿah, packsaddle -any of various pieces of defensive armor for a horse covering, from Persian.
benzoin
لبان جاوي labān jāwī, "frankincense of Java". Benzoin is an organic chemical solvent extracted from a resin of an Asian tree.
bezoar
bazahr, from Persian.
bonito
bainīth.
burnous/burnoose
برنوس burnūs, from Latin byrrhus
borax
بورق buraq, from Persian.

C

caliber
قالب qâlib, 'mould', derived from arabic.[4]
camphor
كافور kafur. [7]
candy
قند qandi, possibly a loanword.
carat
qirat, from Greek
carafe
غراف‎ gharrāfa, see decanter.
caraway
كراوية karāwiya
carmine
ultimately from Sanskrit krmi-ja. See 'kermes' below.
carob
خرّوب xarrūb, (1) locust; (2) carob bean
carrack
qarāqīr plural of qurqur
checkmate
شاه مات shah māt, from Persian 'The king is dead'[5]
chemistry
see alchemy in this list
cipher
صفر sifr, zero
civet
zaba’d [8]
coffee
قهوة qahwa, itself possibly from Kefa, Ethiopia, where the plant originated.
cotton
قُطْن qutun
crimson
الكرمزي qirmazi, related to the qirmiz, the insect that provided the dye.
curcuma
From Arabic word kurkum =saffron, turmeric.[9]
D

divan
ديوان dīwān, from Persian.
dragoman
ترجمان tarjumān, from Aramaic turgemānā, in turn from Akkadian.[6]
E

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

F

fustic
الفسطيط أو الفستيق fosṭeeṭ, ultimately from Greek πιστακη pistakē, pistachio tree[6]

G

garble
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[7]

H

harem
حريم harīm, forbidden thing or place
hashish
حشيش hashīsh, Cannabis
hazard
الزهر az-zahr, chance, name of the pieces used in the game of 'nard,' or 'tawola.' It can also represent a type of flower.
henna
حنة hinna

I-J

ifrit
عفريت Ifreet an ancient demon.
jar
جرة jarrah, large earthen vase
jasmine
from French. jasmin, , from Arabic yas(a)min ياسمين .[10]
jinn
Also (Genie) in Arabic is الجن al Jinn Another creation from fire which humans cannot physically see.
jerboa
جربوع jarbūa. See also gerbil in this list.

K

kermes
قرمز qirmiz perhaps ultimately from Sanskrit krmi-ja, worm-produced
kohl
الكحل al-kuhl, kohl. Powdered stibnite, used for millennia to decorate the eyes and as an eye medicine. (Stibnite is an ore of the element antimony.)

L

lacquer
lakk.
lilac
from Arabic lilak, from Pers. lilak, variant of nilak "bluish," from nil "indigo" [11]
lime
ليمه leemah "citrus fruit," a back-formation or a collective noun from ليمون laymun "lemon"[12]
loofah
from the Egyptian Arabic word lūfa لوفه.
lute
العود al-ʕūd, "the oud", a forerunner of the guitar.

M

macrame
miqrama, embroidered veil (via French)
mafia
Perhaps mahyas, "aggressive, boasting, bragging."[8]; but the OED suggests another Arabic derivation, from Sicilian marfusu ('scoundrel'), from Spanish marfuz ('traitor') from Arabic marfud ('outcast').
magazine
مخازين makhāzin, storehouses,
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 Latin massa, dough
mattress
مطرح matrah, (1) spot where something is thrown down; (2) mat, cushion
mocha
مخا al-muxā (or al-mukhā), city of Mocha, Yemen
mohair
مخير muxayyar, 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
nucha (anatomical term for 'nape of the neck')
نخاع ، منخع , nape of the neck. Via Medieval Latin, from Arabic nuḫā', marrow, spinal cord.[9]
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 Sanskrit via Persian.

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
rahj al-ghar,[6] a mineral
ream (quantity of sheets of paper)
رزمة rizma, bale, bundle
roc
rukhkh, possibly from Persian.
S

safari
from Swahili safari, journey, in turn from Arabic safar سفر. [13]
safflower
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.
sequin
صقع sikka, die, coin
sherbet, sorbet, shrub, syrup
شراب sharāb, a drink
soda
perhaps from سوادة suwwāda, سويد suwayd, or سويدة suwayda, a species of plant
sofa
suffa, stone ledge
sugar
سكّر sukkar, sugar, ultimately from Sanskrit [14]
sumac
summāq, from Aramaic.

T

tabby (fabric)
عتابي ʕattābī (9attābī), deriv. of (al-)ʕattābiyya, quarter of Baghdad where watered silk was first made, named after a prince, ʕattāb
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)[6]
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.

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

[edit] Words not proven to 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
monkey
barbican or Barbacan
Outer fortification of a city or castle, perhaps from Arabic or Persian ‘ باب خانه bab-khanah =gate-house".[15], [16]
caramel
possibly from Arabic, more likely from Latin cannamellis, burnt honey
date
دقل - بلح Possibly from Arabic daqal "date palm". [17]
drub
gala
perhaps from Arabic khil'a, fine garment given as a presentation. [18]
gibberish
حيان jabir; the name of the Arabic alchemist, Jabir ibn Hayyan, whose name was Latinized as "Geber".[10]
Mulatto
disputed etymology either from Spanish or Arabic.
risk
possibly from Arabic rizq, but also argued to be from Greek [19].
satin
probably from Arabic zaytūnī, of Zaytun
scarlet
siqillat, fine cloth. ".[20]
talisman
a blend of the Arabic loan from Greek and the Greek itself [21]
tobacco
from Arabic tabbaq".[22]
toque
kind of round hat, possibly from Arabic taqa.
traffic
tafriq, distribution. This is one scholar's published suggestion.


قال رسول الله : صلى الله عليه وسلم { من سئل عن علم فكتمه ألجمه الله بلجام من نار يوم القيامة }
Moon Light
Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2009 7:28:07 AM

Rank: Member

Joined: 7/18/2009
Posts: 19
Neurons: 57
Location: Palestinian Territory: Occupied
شكرا ليلى ع المجهود الرائع
يسلمو اديكي
:)

The prettiest things, can come out of the coldest night.

And even with broken wings, sometimesyou find your way to fly.
witchcraft
Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2009 5:18:44 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/6/2009
Posts: 386
Location: Tasmania Australia
How many alphabet Does the Arabic have?

Love love love love co-co-nuts!, I I I I Island~~! Xo!!
Moon Light
Posted: Monday, July 20, 2009 12:36:18 PM

Rank: Member

Joined: 7/18/2009
Posts: 19
Neurons: 57
Location: Palestinian Territory: Occupied
Hi witchcraft,
our Arabic has 28 alphabet



The prettiest things, can come out of the coldest night.

And even with broken wings, sometimesyou find your way to fly.
Laila
Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 5:02:38 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/23/2009
Posts: 132
Neurons: 474
witchcraft wrote:
How many alphabet Does the Arabic have?


Hi Witchcraft,

As "Moon light" said arabic language has 28 alphabet which are:
ا ب ت ث ج ح خ د ذ ر ز س ش ص ض ط ظ ع غ ق ف ك ل م ن ه و ي


قال رسول الله : صلى الله عليه وسلم { من سئل عن علم فكتمه ألجمه الله بلجام من نار يوم القيامة }
Orual42
Posted: Monday, August 17, 2009 3:13:45 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/13/2009
Posts: 51
Neurons: 165
Location: United States
Thank you for that list, Laila. I had never realized how many English words had come from Arabic.
Laila
Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:22:39 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/23/2009
Posts: 132
Neurons: 474
Orual42 wrote:
Thank you for that list, Laila. I had never realized how many English words had come from Arabic.


You're welcome ;-)


قال رسول الله : صلى الله عليه وسلم { من سئل عن علم فكتمه ألجمه الله بلجام من نار يوم القيامة }
rogermue
Posted: Sunday, September 21, 2014 6:59:37 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 1/28/2012
Posts: 5,047
Neurons: 34,900
Location: München, Bavaria, Germany
Very interesting post, Laila. Thank you. Applause
Ruslan Montana
Posted: Monday, June 06, 2016 2:02:30 PM

Rank: Newbie

Joined: 6/6/2016
Posts: 1
Neurons: 1,165
thanks
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