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List of English words of Arabic origin

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Words of Arabic origin have entered the English language and many European languages. One of the primary routes that they have entered other languages is via the Spanish language, heavily influenced by the Arabic of al-Andalus.


Contents

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

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A

admiral 
أمير cلبحر amiir al-baHr "commander of the sea"
adobe 
الطوب aT-Tuub "the brick" (itself originally from Coptic tôbe)
albacore 
الباكورة al-bakoura
albatross 
البطرس possibly from al-qadus
alchemy 
الكيمياء al-keemiyaa (from disputed origins; possibly from the Greek, from Ancient Egyptian "Khm" or "Khmt" meaning the "Black Land" as the Ancient Egyptians called their land, khemeia "alchemy" via Arabic or from Arabic origin al-kimiyya: the chemistry.)
alcohol 
via Spanish alcohol الكحول al-kuHuul (original meaning "eyeshadow", from a root meaning "dark"; cf. kohl)
alcove 
al-qubbah, "the vault"
alembic 
al-anbiq "the cup/container holding water"
aldebaran 
al-dabaran "the follower""
algebra 
via Spanish álgebra; الجبر al-jabr from the name of the book of the Persian scientist al-Khwarizmi Hisab al-jabr w’al-muqabala : the Calculus of subtraction and equality which has exposed the first algorithm for solving a first order Equation.
algorithm 
from the Persian scientist al-Khwarizmi who wrote Hisab al-jabr w’al-muqabala the Calculus of subtraction and equality which has exposed the first Algorithm for solving a first order equation, see also algebra.
alkali 
al-qaliy "calx"
almanac 
al-manaakh, "the climate", possibly from Greek almenichiakon, "calendar"
altair 
"aţ-ţaa'ir" الطير the bird
amalgam 
ultimately from Greek malagma
aniline 
ultimately from Sanskrit nilah "dark blue"
arrack 
al-araq
arsenal 
دار الصناعة daar sinaa`a, "house of manufacturing"
artichoke 
via Italian from Arabic الخرشوف al-khurshouf (which, ironically, was reborrowed back into Lebanese Arabic as Ardhi-Shoki أرضي شوكي)
assassin 
from حشاشين the Hashshashin. The word means "those who use hashish" (cannabis resin). According to Crusader histories, that group used to ingest hashish before carrying out military or assassination operations, in order to be fearless.
assegai 
az-zaghayah originally from Berber
average 
disputed origin; possibly from 'awira "to be damaged," or from Italian avere or French aveir, "property", from Latin habere, "to have"
azimuth 
as-sumutالسموت "the paths"

B

bedouin 
- بدويين badawiyyiin "nomads"
benzoin 
لبان جاوي "Frankincense of Java," an organic chemical solvent from a resin in an Asian tree.
betelgeuse 
بيت الجوزاء "House of Gemini"
burnous/burnoose 
برنوس Arabic burnuus (itself from Latin byrrhus)

C

coffee 
قهوة
caliph 
khalifah
camel 
- جمل jamal , from Latin camellus, from one of the Semitic languages (which one is uncertain, but the term is found in Latin before Arabic) -->
camise 
قميص khameese, A loose shirt, shift, or tunic ---possibly borrowed from Spanish (camisa) or French (chemise)
carafe 
ghiraaf "handfuls of water"
caramel 
, possibly from Arabic, more likely from Latin cannamellis "burnt honey"
caraway 
karaawiyaa
carmine 
, ultimately from Sanskrit krimiga
carob 
kharroub
chemistry 
(see "Alchemy").
cipher 
صفر Sifr "zero"
copt 
Qibt, possibly from Greek Aigyptios, but ultimately from Ancient Egyptian Hiku Pitah, the House of the God Pitah.
cork 
qoorq, ultimately from Latin quercus "oak"
cotton 
قطن quTn
crimson 
Crimson entered English during the 15th century from an Old Spanish version of the Arabic word for kermes

D

dhow 
dragoman 
ترجمان tarjuman
decipher 
the word cipher means zero in Arabic, which was used as a prominent symbol in early secret codes.

E

elixir 
الإكسير al-'iksiir "philosopher's stone" (via Greek)

F

fellah 
fallah, فلاح "peasant"

G

garble 
gharbala "sift", ultimately from Latin cribellum "sieve"
gauze 
qazz "raw silk"
gazelle 
غزال ghazelle
genie 
جنّ jinn
gerbil 
yarbu
gibraltar 
جبل طارق Jabal Tariq, the "mountain of Tariq" after the general who led the Muslim conquest of Spain.
giraffe 
زرافة zaraafah
ghoul
غول

H

harem 
حريم harim "sanctity" "wife"
hashish 
حشيش Hashiish "grass"
hegira 
hijrah "departure" - hajara "expatriation" "immigration"
henna 
حنة hinna

I

imam 
"front man" "leader of prayer" "leader"
ifrit 
A kind of genie (Arabic عفريت)

J

jar 
جرة jarrah "large earthen vase"
jerboa 
Jarbou'
jihad 
جهاد jihad "struggle"
jin (genie) 
jinn

K

kaaba 
الكعبة "The House of Allah (God)" in Islam.
kermes 
قرمز qirmiz (via Spanish; ultimately from Sanskrit krmi-ja "worm-produced")
kohl 
kohl"congenital blackness of the eyelids"

L

lacquer 
lake pigments
lute 
العود al-`uud "the lute," The fore-runner of the guitar.

M

macrame 
miqrama "embroidered veil"
magazine 
makhaazin "storehouses," possibly from Crusades
marzipan 
mawthaban "coin featuring a seated figure"
mascara 
uncertain origin; possibly from maskhara "buffoon" or from an unknown pre-Indo-European language. In modern Persian maskhara means to ridicule
massage 
from French, ultimately from either Arabic massa "to stroke" or Latin massa "dough"
mastaba 
mastabah
mattress 
مطرح maTraH "place where something is thrown, mat, cushion"
mecca 
مكّة Makkah
minaret 
manarah, something enlightening its surrounding
mocha 
مخا al-mukhaa "Mocha" [Yemen]
mohair 
mukhayyar "having the choice"
monsoon 
mawsim "season" (via Portuguese)
muslin 
based on a city in Iraq (Mosul) where cotton fabric was made
myrrh 
from Greek, ultimately from one of the Semitic languages, but which one is unclear; cf. Arabic مر murr "bitter"

N

nadir 
- nazeer "parallel"

O

Ottoman 
uthman

P

Q

qibla 
القبلة Qiblah, direction of prayer towards Mekka"

R

racket 
raaha "palm of the hand"
ream 
rizma "bale, bundle"
rigel 
The star's name comes from its location at the "left foot" of Orion. It is a contraction of "Rijl Jauza al-Yusra," this being Arabic for "left foot of the Central One".

S

safari 
سفاري
sahara 
صحراء sa-huh-rá "desert"
sash 
شاش shaash "muslin"
satin 
probably zaytuni "of Zaytun"
sequin 
sikkah "die, coin"
shrub 
as in the drink
sirocco 
sharqiyah, "eastern"
soda 
From sudaa, meaning headache.
sofa 
suffa whole
sorbet 
same origin as sherbet (via Persian & French) "for rose water drink" "shurab" "sherbat"
sultan 
سلطان sultaan "ruler"
suq 
سوق "Middle Eastern marketplace"

T

tabby 
based on a city in Iraq where striped fabric was made
tahini 
tahinia Arabic word derived from another Arabic word "tahn" which means to grind
tamarind 
tamr-hindi "date of India"
tarboush 
طربوش
tare 
when speaking of weight

U

V

W

wadi 
"valley"

X

Z

zenith 
samt ar-ra’s "zenith, vertex"

See also


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
For a list of words with Arabic language origins, see the Arabic derivations category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary
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