The following English words have been acquired either directly from Arabic or else indirectly by passing from Arabic into other languages and then into English. Most entered one or more of the Romance languages before entering English. Some of them are not ancient in Arabic, but are loanwords within Arabic itself, entering Arabic from Persian, Greek or other languages.

To qualify for this list, a word must be reported in leading etymology dictionaries as having descended from Arabic. A handful of dictionaries has been used as the source for the list.[1] In cases where the dictionaries disagree, the minority view is omitted or consigned to a footnote. Rare and archaic words are also omitted. A bigger listing including many words very rarely seen in English is available at


Given the number of words which have entered English from Arabic, the list of English words of Arabic origin is split alphabetically into sublists, as listed below:

  • separate lists of botanical names, textile names, cuisine words, and musical terms can be found on the main list.
  • Dozens of the stars in the night sky have Arabic name etymologies. These are listed separately in the list of Arabic star names article.
  • Words associated with Islam are listed separately at the glossary of Islam article.

Loanwords listed in alphabetical orderEdit


أمير amīr, commander. Amīr al-bahr = "commander of the sea" was a title in use in Arabic Sicily, and was continued by the Normans in Sicily in a Latinized form, and adopted successively by medieval Genoese and French. Modern French is "amiral". A form in use in 15th century English was "amirel of the se". Insertion of the 'd' was doubtless influenced by allusion to common Latin "admire".[2] In medieval Latin, besides meaning an admiral, the word is also found meaning an Arabic emir.[3] [1]
الطوبة al-tūba | at-tūba,[4] the brick. The Arabic dictionary of Al-Jawhari dated about year 1000 made the comment that the Arabic word had come from the Coptic language.[5] The first record in a Western language is 12th-century Spanish adobe with the same meaning as today's.[6] Other cases of Arabic 't' becoming medieval Spanish 'd' include es:Ajedrez, es:Algodón, es:Badana, es:Badea.[7] The word entered English from Mexico in the 18th and 19th centuries. [2]
الغطّاس al-ghattās, literally "the diver", presumably a cormorant or others of the pelecaniform birds, which are diving waterbirds.[8] The derived Spanish alcatraz has its earliest record in 1386 as a type of pelican.[6] "Alcatras" was borrowed into English in the 16th century from Spanish and meant pelecaniform bird not albatross.[9] Beginning in the 17th century, every European language adopted "albatros" with a 'b' for these Pacific Ocean birds, the 'b' having been mobilized from Latinate alba = white. [3]
alchemy, chemistry 
الكيمياء al-kīmiyā, alchemy. The Arabic entered medieval Latin as alchimia, whose first known record is in about year 1140 in an Arabic-to-Latin translation by Plato Tiburtinus.[6] The Arabic word had its root in a late classical Greek word (the alchemy article has more details). The late medieval Latin words alchimicus = "alchemical" and alchimista = "alchemist" gave rise to the words chemical and chemist beginning in the 16th century in French and Latin.[10] [4]
الكحل al-kohl, finely powdered stibnite and any similar fine powder.[5] The word with that meaning entered Latin in the 13th century. In 14th-century Latin it meant any finely ground and sifted material.[11] In the later Latin alchemy literature it took on the additional meaning of a purified material, or "quintessence", which was arrived at by distillation methods. The restriction to "quintessence of wine" (ethanol) started with the alchemist Paracelsus in the 16th century.[12] The biggest-selling English dictionary of the 18th century (Bailey's) defined alcohol as "a very fine and impalpable powder, or a very pure well rectified spirit."[13] Crossref kohl on the list. [5]
القبّة al-qobba, "the vault" or cupola. That sense for the word is in an Arabic dictionary dated around year 1000[5] and the same sense is documented in Spanish alcoba around 1275.[6] After semantically changing in later medieval Spanish,[14] alcoba begot French alcove, earliest record 1646,[6] and French begot English. [6]
alembic (distillation apparatus) 
الانبيق al-anbīq, "the still" (for distilling). The Arabic root is traceable to Greek ambix = "cup". The earliest chemical distillations were by Greeks in Alexandria in about the 3rd century AD. Their ambix became the 9th-century Arabic al-anbīq, which became the 12th-century Latin alembicus.[15] [7]
الفصفصة al-fisfisa, alfalfa.[16] The Arabic entered medieval Spanish. In medieval Spain alfalfa had a reputation as the best fodder for horses. The ancient Romans grew alfalfa but called it an entirely different name; history of alfalfa. The English name started in the far-west USA in the mid-19th century from Spanish alfalfa.[17] [8]
الجبر al-jabr, completing, or restoring broken parts. The mathematical sense originates from the title of the book "al-kitāb al-mukhtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-jabr wa al-muqābala", "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Restoring and Balancing" by the 9th-century mathematician al-Khwarizmi. This algebra book was translated to Latin more than once in the 12th century. In medieval Arabic mathematics, al-jabr and al-muqābala were the names of the two main preparatory steps used to solve an algebraic equation and the phrase "al-jabr and al-muqābala" came to mean "method of equation-solving". The medieval Latins borrowed the method and the names.[18] [9]
algorithm, algorism 
الخوارزمي al-khwārizmī, a short name for the mathematician Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī. The appellation al-Khwārizmī means "from Khwarizm". The Latinization of this name to "Algorismi" in the late 12th century gave rise to algorismus in the early 13th. Until the late 19th century both algorismus and algorithm simply meant the "Arabic" decimal number system.[19] [10]
العضادة al-ʿiḍāda (from ʿiḍad, pivoting arm), a certain kind of surveying instrument whose usual context of use was in astronomy. The word was used by for example the astronomers Abū al-Wafā' Būzjānī (died 998)[20] and Abu al-Salt (died 1134).[7] Word entered Latin in the Late Middle Ages. [11]
العصارة al-ʿasāra, the juice (from ʿasar, to squeeze). Alizarin is a red dye with considerable commercial usage. The origin and early history of the word alizarin is unclear, and a minority of dictionaries say the connection with al-ʿasāra is improbable.[21] [12]
القلي al-qalī | al-qilī, an alkaline material derived from the ashes of certain plants. Particularly plants that grew on very alkaline soils—see Salsola kali. Al-Jawhari (died 1003) said "al-qilī is obtained from glassworts".[5] In today's terms, the medieval al-qalī was mainly composed of sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate.[22] The Arabs used it as an ingredient in making soap and making glass. Earliest record in the West is in a 13th-century Latin alchemy text, with the same meaning as the Arabic.[23] [13]
amber, ambergris 
عنبر ʿanbar, meaning ambergris, i.e. a waxy material produced in the stomach of sperm whales and used historically for perfumery. The word passed into the Western languages in the mid-medieval centuries with the same meaning as the Arabic. In the late medieval centuries the Western word took on the additional meaning of amber, from causes not understood. The two meanings – ambergris and amber – then co-existed for more than three centuries. "Ambergris" was coined to eliminate the ambiguity. But it wasn't until about 1700 that the ambergris meaning died out in English amber.[24] [14]
anil, aniline, polyaniline 
النيل al-nīl | an-nīl,[4] indigo dye. Arabic word came from Sanskrit nili = "indigo". The indigo dye originally came from tropical India. From medieval Arabic, anil became the usual word for indigo in Portuguese and Spanish. Indigo dye was uncommon throughout Europe until the 16th century; history of indigo. In English anil is a natural indigo dye or the tropical American plant it is obtained from. Aniline is a technical word in dye chemistry dating from mid-19th-century Europe.[25] [15]
البرقوق al-barqūq, apricot.[26] Arabic is in turn traceable back to Byzantine Greek and thence to classical Latin praecoqua, literally "precocious" and specifically precociously ripening peaches,[27] i.e. apricots.[7] The Arabic was passed onto the 14th-century Portuguese albricoque and Catalan albercoc = "apricot".[6] Early spellings in English included abrecok (1551), abrecox (1578), apricock (1593).[28] [16]
دار صناعة dār sināʿa, literally "house of manufacturing" but in practice in Arabic it meant government-run manufacturing, usually for the military, most notably for the navy.[29] In the West the word's early history is tied to the then-famous Arsenal of Venice, which for centuries in Republic of Venice was a place for building ships and military armaments for ships on a large scale. 14th-century Italian included the spellings "tarcenale", "terzana", "arzana", "arsana", "tersanaia", "tersanaja"....[6] In today's French, fr:Arsenal means both a naval dockyard and an arsenal. The early records in English (16th century) contain the same dual meanings as in today's French.[30] [17]
الخرشوف al-kharshūf, artichoke. The word with that meaning has a number of records in medieval Andalusian Arabic.[31] Early Spanish carchiofa (1423), Italian carciofjo (circa 1525)[6] are reasonably close to the Arabic precedent and so are today's Spanish alcachofa, today's Italian carciofo. It is not clear how the word mutated to French artichault (1538), northern Italian articiocch (circa 1550),[6] northern Italian arcicioffo (16th century),[32] English archecokk (1531), English artochock (1542),[32] but all of the etymology dictionaries say it is a mutation. [18]
حشاشين ḥashāshīn, an Arabic nickname for the Nizari Ismaili religious sect in the Levant during the Crusades era. This sect carried out assassinations against chiefs of other sects, including Christians, and the story circulated in Europe at the time (13th century). Generalization of the sect's nickname to the meaning of "assassin" happened in Italian after the Crusades era was over.[33] [19]
attar (of roses)
عطر ʿitr (plural: ʿutūr), perfume, aroma. The English word came from India in the late 18th century.[34] The word is ultimately from Arabic. [20]
البادنجان al-bādinjān, aubergine.[35] The Arabic word entered Romance languages in medieval Iberia, from which comes modern Spanish berenjena = "aubergine". French aubergine (18th century) comes from Catalan albergínia = "aubergine" (13th century).[6] It embodies a change from al- to au- that happened in French.[36] [21]. Incidentally the aubergine food recipe name Moussaka is also of Arabic descent.[37]
The records of this word in the Western languages begin in Genoa in the 12th century followed by Provence and Catalonia in the 13th.[6] In the West, the word's early usage was in sea-commerce on the Mediterranean, and its meaning was a lot different from what it is in English today. The Arabic parent word was عوار ʿawār = "a defect, or anything defective or damaged" and عوارية ʿawārīa = "defective, damaged or partially spoiled goods".[38] That begot the 12th century Italian avaria = "damage, loss or unexpected expenses arising during a merchant sea voyage". Italian avaria begot French avarie which begot English "averay" (1491) and English "average" (1502), all with the same meaning as the Italian. In Italian today avaria still means "damage" as well as meaning "average". The transformation in the semantics began with the practice in later medieval and early modern Western merchant marine law contracts under which if the ship met a bad storm and some of the goods had to be thrown overboard to make the ship lighter and safer, then all merchants whose goods were on the ship were to suffer proportionately (and not whoever's goods were thrown overboard); and more generally there was to be proportionate distribution of any avaria. From there the word was adopted by British insurers, creditors, and merchants for talking about their losses as being spread across their whole portfolio of assets and having a mean proportion. The modern meaning developed out of that and dates from the mid 18th century in English.[39] [22].
السموت al-sumūt | as-sumūt,[4] the paths, the directions. Origin in texts of Astronomy in medieval Islam and the Arabic version of the Astrolab instrument. The first recorded use in English is in Geoffrey Chaucer's 1390s Treatise on the Astrolabe which used the word many times.[40] A hundred years earlier the word is in Spanish as acimut.[6] [23]
azure (color), lazurite (mineral) 
لازورد lāzward | lāzūard, lazurite and lapis lazuli, a rock with a vivid blue color. The Arabic came from "Lajward" the location of a large deposit of this blue rock in northeastern Afghanistan. The color azure without the initial 'L' was in all the western Romance languages in the later medieval centuries, and still is today, but it is spelled with the 'L' in today's Russian, Ukrainian and Polish (лазурь, lazur). "The 'L' is supposed to have been lost in the Romance languages through being taken as the definite article."[9] [24]


benzoin, benzene 
Benzoin is a resinous substance from an Indonesian tree. Medieval Arab sea-merchants shipped it to the Middle East for sale as perfumery and incense. The word is a great corruption of لبان جاوي labān jāwī, literally "frankincense of Java".[41] In European chemistry, the 15th-century benzoin resin became the source for the 16th-century benzoic acid, which became the source for the 19th-century benzene. [25]
بازهر bāzahr (from Persian pâdzahr), a ruminant bolus. Today in English a bezoar is a medical and veterinary term for a ball of indigestible material that collects in the stomach and fails to pass through the intestines. Goat boluses were recommended by medieval Arabic medical writers for use as antidotes to poisons. That is how the word first entered Latin medical vocabulary.[42] [26]
borax, borate, boron 
بورق būraq, various salts (including borax) used as fluxes in metalworking and as cleaning agents.[43] Borax | Baurach was adopted in Latin in the 12th century[6] meaning salts used for fluxing metals. The substance that the word could refer to was varied and unsettled in Europe until the 18th century.[43] Elemental boron was isolated and named from borax in the early 19th. The variant of borax called Tincalconite gets its name from medieval Arabic تنكار tinkār = "borax" conjoined with ancient Greek konis = "powder".[43] [27]

Addendum for words that may or may not be of Arabic ancestryEdit

This word's earliest record is in Latin in 1267, where it meant a set of tables detailing movements of astronomical bodies. A lot of medieval Arabic writings on astronomy exist, and they don't use the word almanac. (One of the words they do use is "zīj"; another is "taqwīm"). The 19th-century Arabic-word-origin expert Reinhart Dozy said about almanac: "To have the right to argue that it is of Arabic origin, one must first find a candidate word in Arabic" and he found none.[7] The origin remains obscure.[44] [28]. A possible "candidate word" could be المناخ, al-manaakh, meaning climate.
amalgam, amalgamate
This word is first seen in the West in 13th-century Latin alchemy texts, where it meant an amalgam of mercury with another metal. It lacks a plausible origin in terms of Latin precedents. Some dictionaries say the Latin was from Arabic الملغم al-malgham or probably was. But other dictionaries are unconvinced, and say the origin of the Latin is obscure.[45] [29]
This word was first used by Constantinus Africanus (crossref borage and racquet). He spelled it "antimonium".[6] It may be a Latinized form of some Arabic name, but no clear precedent in Arabic has been found. The substance Constantinus called antimonium was well-known to the medieval Arabs under the names ithmid and kohl and well-known to the Latins under the name stibi | stibium. [30]
A magical or divine figure described by the crusaders and whose cult was attributed to the Templars. Arkon Daraul (a pseudonym of Idries Shah) proposed that the word may derive from أبو فهمة Abu fihama(t), meaning "The Father of Understanding".[46]
borage (plant), Boraginaceae (botanical family) 
Borage is from medieval Latin borago | borrago | borragine. The word is first seen in Constantinus Africanus who was an 11th-century Latin medical writer and translator whose native language was Arabic and who drew from Arabic medical sources. Most of today's etymology dictionaries suppose the word to be from Arabic and the most popular theory is that he took it from أبو عرق abū ʿaraq = "sweat inducer", because tea made from borage leaves has a sweat-inducing (diaphoretic) effect and the word would be pronounced būaraq in Arabic.[6] However, in medieval Arabic no such name is on record for borage.[47] [31]



  1. The dictionaries used to compile the list are primarily these: Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales: Etymologies, Online Etymology Dictionary, Random House Dictionary, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, Collins English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Arabismen im Deutschen: lexikalische Transferenzen vom Arabischen ins Deutsche, by Raja Tazi (year 1998), A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (a.k.a. "NED") (published in pieces between 1888 and 1928), An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English (year 1921) by Ernest Weekley. Footnotes for individual words have supplementary other references. The most frequently cited of the supplementary references is Glossaire des mots espagnols et portugais dérivés de l'arabe (year 1869) by Reinhart Dozy.
  2. 15th century English had "amyral of the see", "amerel of the see", "amyrel", "amrel", as well as "admirall"; see Middle English Dictionary. More about the word-history of admiral is in Walter Skeat's Etymology Dictionary year 1888 quoting James Murray year 1880.
  3. Amirallus, Admiralius, Ammiratus, Amiræus, etc. in Du Cange's Glossary of Medieval Latin.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 In Arabic where tūba means brick, "the brick" is written al-tūba but universally pronounced "at-tūba". Similarly, the written al-sumūt ("the paths") is always pronounced "as-sumūt". Similarly, al-nil is always pronounced "an-nil". This pronunciation applies to al- in front of about half of the Arabic consonants. In front of the other half the al- is pronounced al-.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 A number of large dictionaries were written in Arabic during medieval times. Searchable copies of nearly all of the main medieval Arabic dictionaries are online at The earliest dictionary at is Ismail ibn Hammad al-Jawhari's "Al-Sihah" which is dated around and shortly after year 1000. The biggest is Ibn Manzur's "Lisan Al-Arab" which is dated 1290 but most of its contents were taken from a variety of earlier sources, including 9th- and 10th-century sources. Very often Ibn Manzur names his source then quotes from it. Therefore, if the reader recognizes the name of Ibn Manzur's source, a date considerably earlier than 1290 can often be assigned to what is said. A list giving the year of death of a number of individuals who Ibn Manzur quotes from is in Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon, volume 1, page xxx (year 1863). Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon contains much of the main contents of the medieval Arabic dictionaries in English translation.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 More details at Etymologie in French language. This site is a division of the French National Centre for Scientific Research.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Glossaire des mots espagnols et portugais dérivés de l'arabe by R. Dozy & W.H. Engelmann. 430 pages. Published in 1869.
  8. Spanish alcatraz = "pelican" (year 1386) is presumed by all to be from an Arabic word. But which word isn't very clear, since the Arabic for pelican was a different word. On looking at candidate words, Arabic al-ghattās = "the diver" (from verb غطس ghatas, to dive in water), implying a diving pelecaniform bird, is the one reported by the dictionaries Concise OED, American Heritage, Merriam-Webster,, and some others. In modern Arabic al-ghattās is a grebe (a diving waterbird) and also means a human skin-diver. The candidate proposed by Skeat (1888), Weekley (1921) and Partridge (1966) is Arabic al-qādūs = "bucket of a water wheel (hopper)" became Portuguese alcatruz well-documented with the same meaning, which then, it is proposed, became Portuguese and Spanish alcatraz = "a pelican with a bucket-like beak". But the name alcatraz was also used for cormorants and frigatebirds, which are pelecaniform birds without a deep beak (Partridge 1966, Weekley 1921). The fact that al-qādūs (the waterwheel bucket) is certainly the progenitor of alcatruz (the waterwheel bucket) lends phonetic support to the view that al-ghattās (the diving bird) can readily be the progenitor of alcatraz (the pelecaniform bird).
  9. 9.0 9.1 An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English (year 1921), by Ernest Weekley.
  10. Further information is at Etymology of the word "chemistry".
  11. An alcohol of antimony sulfide (stibnite) is in Spanish with date 1278 – ref: – and in Latin with date 13th century – ref: Raja Tazi 1998. An alcofol of eggshells and an alcofol of iron sulfide (marcasite) are in a medical book by Guy de Chauliac in Latin in 1363 – ref: MED. In these cases alcohol | alcofol meant the substance had been finely powdered. A medieval use for such powder was in eye cleaning treatments for eye complaints (see collyrium). A Latin medical dictionary dated 1292 defined "alcohol" solely as "a powder for an eyewash" – Simon of Genoa's Synonyma Medicinae.
  12. Entry on "Alkohol" in Priesner and Figala's book Alchemie. Lexikon einer hermetischen Wissenschaft. (1998).
  13. "Alcohol" in N. Bailey's English Dictionary, year 1726.
  14. "Alcoba" in Iberoromanische Arabismen im Bereich Urbanismus und Wohnkultur, by Y. Kiegel-Keicher, year 2005 pages 314-319.
  15. Book A Short History of the Art of Distillation, by Robert James Forbes (year 1948).
  16. The 12th century agriculture writer Ibn Al-Awwam, who gives details on how to cultivate alfalfa, calls alfalfa al-fisfisa. The 13th-century Arabic dictionary Lisan al-Arab says al-fisfisa is cultivated as an animal feed and consumed in both fresh and dried form – فصفصة @ In medieval Arabic another name for alfalfa was al-qatt – refs: قتت @ and Pierre Guigues, year 1905. But al-fisfisa appears to have been the most common name. For example the entry for al-qatt in the 11th-century dictionary al-Sihāh says al-qatt is another word for al-fisfisa without saying what the latter is. In some medieval Andalusian Arabic sources it is spelled al-fasfasa (e.g.). Early records in Spanish have it spelled alfalfez which was a mutation of "al-fasfasa" meaning alfalfa – ref: Reinhart Dozy, year 1869.
  17. Alfalfa seeds were imported to California from Chile in the 1850s; history of alfalfa.
  18. Historical information on the term "algebra" is in "Robert of Chester's Latin Translation of the Algebra of Al-Khowarizmi: with an introduction, critical notes and an English version", by Louis Charles Karpinski, 200 pages, year 1915; downloadable. The earliest Latin translation of the book of algebra of Al-Khwarizmi was by Robert of Chester. The year was 1145. Centuries later in some Latin manuscripts this particular translation carried the Latin title Liber Algebrae et Almucabola. But the translation of 1145 did not carry that title originally, nor did it use the term algebrae in the body of the text. Instead it used the Latin word "restoration" as a loan-translation of al-jabr. Another 12th-century Latin translation of the same book, by Gerard of Cremona, borrowed the Arabic term in the form aliabre and iebra where the Latin 'i' is representing Arabic letter 'j'. In year 1202 in Latin the mathematician Leonardo of Pisa wrote a chapter involving the title Aljebra et Almuchabala where Latin 'j' is pronounced 'y'. Leonardo of Pisa had been influenced by an algebra book of essentially same title in Arabic by Abū Kāmil Shujāʿ ibn Aslam (died 930). Use of the term "al-jabr wa al-muqābala" in Arabic mathematics started with Al-Khwarizmi (died 850). Other algebra books with titles having the phrase "al-jabr wa al-muqābala" were written by Al-Karaji (died circa 1029), Umar al-Khayyam (died 1123), and Ibn al-Banna (died 1321). Karpinski pages 19, 24, 33, 42, 65-66, 67, 159; and Encyclopaedia of Islamic Science and Scientists volume 1 (year 2005); and "The Influence of Arabic Mathematics on the Medieval West" by André Allard in Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, Volume 2 (year 1996). In the late medieval Western languages the word "algebra" also had a medical sense, "restoration of broken body parts especially broken bones" – ref: MED. This medical sense was entirely independent of the mathematical sense. It came from the same Arabic word by a different route.
  19. In late medieval Latin, the introductory books about the Hindu-Arabic numeral system usually had the word Algorismus in their title. The most popular such book was the one by Johannes de Sacrobosco apparently – Karpinski year 1915, page 16. "Algorithm" was a new spelling in the late 17th century, based on the model of the word Logarithm, with the "arithm" taken from ancient Greek arithmos = "arithmetic" and the "algor" descended from medieval Latin algorismus = "Hindu–Arabic numeral system". Algorithm simply meant the methods of the decimal number system until the late 19th century, at which point the word was practically obsolete, but then it was saved from oblivion by an expansion of the meaning to cover any systematic codified procedure in mathematics. Weekley (1921), Ayto (2005).
  20. Dictionnaire Étymologique Des Mots Français D'Origine Orientale, by L. Marcel Devic, year 1876.
  21. Until the late 19th century the Alizarin dye was made from the roots of the madder plant. (Today it is made in pure synthetic form). Dye-making from the madder root was common in medieval Europe. The word "alizarin" is only on record from the early 19th century. In France in year 1831 the official dictionary of the French language defined "izari" as "madder from the Levant" and flagged it as a recent word – Ref. It seems that an expansion of exports of madder from the Levant to western Europe may have occurred in the early 19th century – Ref. But (1) the Arabic word for madder was a completely different word; (2) the Arabic al-ʿaṣāra = "the juice" is very rarely or not at all used in Arabic in any sense of a dye; and (3) the way you get the dyestuff from the madder root is by drying the root, followed by milling the dried root into a powder – not by juicing, pressing or squeezing. So the Arabic verb ʿaṣar = "to squeeze" is semantically off-target, as well as being unattested in the relevant sense. Also the earliest known records are in French and it is not natural for an Arabic 'ṣ' to be converted to a French 'z' instead of a French 's' – Ref. Regarding the Spanish word alizari the experts Dozy & Engelmann say it looks Arabic but they can find no progenitor for it in Arabic – Ref: (year 1869) (page 144). In 1826, chemist Pierre Jean Robiquet discovered in madder root two distinct molecules with dye properties. The one producing a rich red he called "alizarin" and it soon entered all major European languages as a scientific word. Robiquet says in his 1826 research report: "regarding this new [red] entity coming from the neutral-coloured substance, we propose the name alizarin, from alizari, a term used in commerce for the entire madder root." – Ref: (year 1826)(page 411).
  22. See "alkali" at Salsola kali.
  23. As per the earliest record of "alkali" in the West is in the 13th-century Latin alchemy text Liber Luminis, the authorship of which is attributed to Michael Scotus, who had somewhere learned Arabic. The Liber Luminis is a 13th-century composite work drawn from multiple sources and it is possible that it dates from later than Michael Scotus, who died in the early 1230s. The Liber Luminis text is online in Latin as Appendix III of The Life and Legend of Michael Scot. Records of "alkali" are in English from the later 14th century on – ref: MED. The word has not been found in any other vernacular Western language until the early 16th century – ref: Raja Tazi year 1998. The earliest French is 1509. cites a book by Guy de Chauliac using the word "alkali" in France in 1363, but that was in Latin, and the subsequent translations of Chauliac's book into French did not use the Latin word – ref: DMF, ref: French Chauliac. The first record in Spanish is in 1555 as per Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico. The origin of the Arabic word al-qalī is most often guessed to be from the Arabic root قلى qalā = "to fry".
  24. Early records of the English "amber" are quoted in MED and NED. The English is from French. Some early records in medieval Latin are given at "ambre #2" @ For the word in medieval Arabic see عنبر @ In the medieval era, ambergris mostly came from the shores of the Indian ocean (especially the western shores of India) and it was brought to the Mediterranean region by Arab traders, who called it anbar (also ambar) and that is the parent word of the medieval Latin ambra (also ambar) with the same meaning. The word did not mean amber at any time in medieval Arabic. Meanwhile in the medieval era, amber mostly came from the Baltic Sea region of northern Europe. One can imagine in the abstract that a word of the form ambra meaning amber could be brought to Latin Europe by traders from the Baltic region. But the historical records are without any evidence for that. The records just show that the Latin word began with one meaning (ambergris) and later had two meanings (ambergris and amber).
  25. Anil and Aniline in NED (English). Anil in Raja Tazi year 1998 pages 190–192 (German). Anil in (French). Añil in DRAE (Spanish). In medieval Arabic the word had the forms al-nīl and al-nīlajالنيلج @
  26. Arabic al-barqūq means plum nowadays. Ibn al-Baitar lived in the 13th century in both the Maghreb and Syria. He wrote that the word meant apricot in the Maghreb and a species of plum in Syria – ref: Dozy, year 1869. In the medieval dictionary of Fairuzabadi, al-burqūq was an apricot – ref: برقوق @
  27. Reported in An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, by Walter W. Skeat, year 1888. Downloadable.
  28. "Apricot" in NED (year 1888).
  29. Medieval Arabic dār sināʿa was a manufacturing operation of the State, such as working the gold and silver of the sovereign, making weapons for the sovereign's military, or constructing and equipping warships – "Dār al-Ṣināʿa" in Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd Edition, edited by P. Bearman et al., published by Brill. In the 10th century Al-Masudi wrote that "Rhodes is currently a dār sināʿa where the Byzantine Greeks build their war-vessels" – Al-Masudi's 10th century Arabic. In the 14th century Ibn Batuta wrote that soon after Gibraltar had been retaken by Muslims from Christians in 1333 a "dār sinaʿa" was established at Gibraltar as a part of military strengthening there – Ibn Batuta's 14th century Arabic. "Ibn Khaldoun quotes an order of the Caliph Abdalmelic to build at Tunis a dār sināʿa for the construction of everything necessary for the equipment and armament of [seagoing] vessels." – Engelmann and Dozy 1869.
  30. English "arsenal" in NED (year 1888). More in French at and Dozy year 1869. One of the first records of arsenal in the West is 1206 in Venice in Latin as arsana – ref: Raja Tazi year 1998 (who in turn is citing it:Giovan Battista Pellegrini). From the port city of Pisa in Italian comes the form tersanaia (date 1313-23), tersanaja (1343), tersonaja (1385) where Italian j is pronounced y. It has the same meaning as the earlier arsana but looks independently borrowed from the Arabic dār sināʿa, and not evolved out of arsana. The great majority of today's dictionaries support the view that the Arabic parent of arsenal was borrowed from Arabic in the Italian maritime republics. Not in Iberia. The Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan word arsenal is a borrowing from the Italian (and French). On the other hand the Spanish word atarazana carries a more diverse sense of manufacturing than the specifically naval manufacturing of the Italian, and its form (including its leading at- and its vowel after 'r', which reflect the Arabic definite article) is not found in any of the Italian variants, so it is from the same Arabic independently – see e.g. Federico Corriente year 2008.
  31. Medieval records of kharshuf | kharshūf (also harshaf) meaning artichoke are cited in Corriente's A Dictionary of Andalusi Arabic, year 1997 page 153 and the dictionary explains the abbreviations it uses for its sources at pages xiii - xvii. In that dictionary's notation, خرشف kharshuf is written XRŠF and xaršuf (while حرشف harshaf is written ḤRŠF and ḥaršaf). Some other notes about the word's records in medieval Arabic are in Dozy year 1869 and Devic year 1876.
  32. 32.0 32.1 "Artichoke" in NED (year 1888), in which the references to "Florio" mean the year 1611 Italian-English Dictionary of John Florio.
  33. "Genesis of the word Assassin" is §610 of the book History of the Ismailis, by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin (1998), a book which includes the history of the sect that was nicknamed the Hashashin. The name assessini | Assisinos meaning that sect is in two Latin writings in England in the 13th century – ref: NED. A chronicle about the Crusades written in Italy in Latin circa 1294 has it spelled Asasini (ref (in Latin), ref). It is also in poems about the Crusades written in French and Italian in the 13th century – ref: The broadening or conversion of the word's meaning into any assassin is seen earliest in the early 16th century in Italian, followed later in the 16th by English and French –, NED. Latin spelling and pronunciation did not ever use an /sh/ sound. Hence the /sh/ sound in Arabic hashāshīn became /s/ in Latin and Italian assassino. Similarly from Arabic loanwords in medieval Latin: Arabic marqashītā -> Latin marcasita -> English marcasite; Arabic kushūtā -> Latin cuscuta -> English cuscuta; Arabic ushna -> Latin usnea -> English usnea; Arabic sharāb -> Latin siropus -> English syrup; Arabic shāh -> Latin scaccus --> English check (chess).
  34. The word attar is not used in European languages other than English. An early record in English, 1792: "Roses are a great article for the famous otter, all of which is commonly supposed to come from Bengal" – ref: NED. The earliest known use of the wordform "attar" according to the NED is in 1798 in The view of Hindoostan: Volume 2: Eastern Hindoostan, by Thomas Pennant, which says the roses for the attar are grown near Lucknow city. The Hindi word for attar and perfume is इत्र itra which is from Persian عطر ʿitr from Arabic عطر ʿitr. The Urdu is عطار itār. In the English of India in the 19th century it was called "usually Otto of Roses, or by imperfect purists Attar of Roses, an essential oil obtained in India from the petals of the flower, a manufacture of which the chief seat is at Ghazipur on the Ganges." – Yule & Burnell, year 1903.
  35. A book on agriculture by Ibn Al-Awwam in 12th century Andalusia described how to grow the aubergine. Among copies of Ibn Al-Awwam's book there is the unusual spelling البارنجان al-bārinjān but also the more common spelling البادنجان al-bādinjān = "aubergine" – Banqueri year 1802, Clément-Mullet year 1866. The most common spelling among medieval writers was الباذنجان al-bādhinjān (which is also today's spelling). The Arabic dictionary Lisan Al-Arab dated 1290 said the word came from Persian – الباذنجان @
  36. "Aubergine" in Remarques sur les mots français dérivés de l'arabe, by Henri Lammens, year 1890, page xxxviii and page 276. Some more remarks in French in M. Devic year 1876. The phonetic shift from al- to au- is somewhat common in French; other French words showing this shift that have been borrowed into English include auburn, mauve and sauce.
  37. "Moussaka" at Merriam-Webster and Concise OED.
  38. Medieval Arabic had عور ʿawr with the essential meaning of "blind in one eye" and عوار ʿawār = "any defect, or anything defective". Medieval Arabic dictionaries are at Some translation to English of what's in the medieval Arabic dictionaries is in Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon, page 2193. The medieval Arabic dictionaries do not list the form عوارية ʿawārīa but from ʿawār it is naturally formed to mean "things which have ʿawār". According to Ernest Klein's dictionary (1966), ʿawārīa is on record in medieval Arabic meaning "merchandise damaged by seawater".
  39. The Arabic origin of "average" was discovered by Reinhart Dozy in the 19th century. Dozy's original summary is in his 1869 book Glossaire des mots espagnols et portugais dérivés de l'arabe. Later, improved information about the word's early records in Italian, Catalan, and French is online at Avarie @ Examples of the word's use in English over the centuries are in the NED (year 1888). Today's Italian avaria and French avarie still have the primary meaning of "damage". The meaning of "average" for Italian avaria and French avarie are 19th century borrowings from the English word. Some complexities surrounding the English word's history are discussed in Hensleigh Wedgwood year 1882 page 11 and Walter Skeat year 1888 page 781.
  40. "Azimutz" in the MED. Likewise in NED.
  41. Jāwī refers to Java in modern Arabic, but it referred to Sumatra in the medieval travel writer Ibn Batuta (died 1368 or 1369), who said that the best labān jāwī came from Sumatra – Dozy, year 1869. The explanation for how the Arabic "laban jawi" got corrupted to "benzoin" is in French at Benjoin @ The word is seen in Catalan in 1430 spelled benjuí and in Catalan the definite article was lo. It is seen in French in 1479 spelled benjuyn and in French the definite article is le. In French the letter J is pronounced not far from the neighborhood of zh (as in "soup du zhour") and that is similar to the Arabic letter J (ج). But in Latin and Old Italian, the letter J is pronounced as a Y (as in "Yuventus"), and therefore writing a Z instead of J would be somewhat more phonetic in Latin and Italian, and the word is seen in Italian in 1461 spelled benzoi (Italian i is pronounced like English ee) – Yule & Burnell 1903. (In 1510 an Italian traveller in the Arabian peninsula wrote "Azami" for Ajami and "Zida" for Jeddahref (page 7 footnote 3)).
  42. "Bezoar" in Yule & Burnell (year 1903). "Bezoard" in Devic (year 1876)(in French).
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 Medieval Arabic būraq encompassed various salts and often came with a qualifier attached to give more specificity. The salts included naturally-occurring sodium carbonate, potassium nitrate, and sodium borate – see e.g. Lane (page 191) and Guigues, year 1905. Medieval Arabic tinkār meant specifically borax, and it originated from a Sanskritic word tinkana meaning borax from Tibet and Cashmere – H. Grieb, year 2004. Tinkār was used as a fluxing agent in soldering metals. Al-Razi (died 930) said that tinkār is one type of būraq and another type is "goldsmith's būraq" (meaning a type of salt in customary use by goldsmiths for soldering) – H. Grieb, year 2004. Ibn Sina (died 1037) said būraq meant astringent salts "hot and dry in the second degree" having uses as cleaning agents and other uses – ref. Abu al-Salt aka Albuzale (died 1134) used the word būraq for a compound consisting mainly of sodium carbonate, while using the word tinkār for borax – ref. In late medieval Latin alchemy books it was spelled baurac, baurach, boracia, borax, and other similar (e.g.), (e.g.). For some late medieval Latin writers the word had the same broad meaning as in Arabic. More often in late medieval Latin it meant a substance used as a fluxing agentMED, Alphita, H. Grieb year 2004. In the post-medieval centuries in the European metallurgy literature, non-borax substances could be called "borax" when they were used as fluxing agents. As late as 1785, in Samuel Johnson's English Dictionary, borax was defined as "an artificial salt prepared from sal-ammonic, nitre, calcined tartar, sea salt and alum, dissolved in wine. It is principally used to solder metals." With regard to the salt called borax today, in 16th-century Europe the most common name for it was "tincar" | "atincar". It was also called "Arabian borax". It was imported through Ottoman lands at that time, trade volume was small, and its main use was as a fluxing agent in gold and silver metalworking – Jaime Wisniak, year 2005 (pages 1–3). The definitions of that era for "borax" and "baurac" are given by Martin Ruland's year 1612 Lexicon Alchemiae.
  44. The etymology section of the almanac article has more information.
  45. Those reporting the 13th-century Latin amalgama to be either surely or probably from Arabic al-malgham include Partridge (1966), Raja Tazi (1998), Random House Dictionary (2001), (2010). Loss of the first 'L' in going from al-malgham to amalgama (if it occurred) is called dissimilation in linguistics. Al-malgham is attested in Arabic meaning a poultice or medicinal bandage dressing. Richardson's Arabic–English Dictionary, 1810 and 1852 editions, translates malgham as a poultice and does not translate it as an amalgam – ref: Year 1810: page 566 and Year 1852: page 1244. A large Arabic dictionary produced in the later 13th century, the Lisan al-Arab, states: "Any melting substance such as gold, etc. mixed with mercury is مُلْغَمٌ molgham" – see لغم @ The word seems very rare in medieval Arabic. A late-13th-century Latin–Arabic dictionary translates Latin "com[m]iscere" (English: "to mix") as Arabic لَغْمَنَهVocabulista in Arabico (means "mix two things", as it appends a dual to the verb).
  46. Daraul, Arkon (1962). A History of Secret Societies. ISBN 0-8065-0857-4. 
  47. Constantinus Africanus writing in Latin in the 11th century mentions two Arabic names for Borage and he does not indicate that his own name "borrago" | "borragine" is an Arabic name. Ref: ISBN 9004100148 page 176 footnote 28. Nevertheless an Arabic source-word for Borage is the preferred proposition in the majority of today's dictionaries including Ernest Klein (1966), John Ayto (2005), Merriam-Webster, American Heritage, Concise OED, Collins English, The Concise OED says: "medieval Latin borrago is perhaps from Arabic abū ḥurāš 'father of roughness' (referring to the leaves)." The other dictionaries just named say it is probably or perhaps from abū ʿaraq = "father of sweat" (referring to the herbal medicine use). There is a non-Arabic proposition deriving it from Latin burra | borra = "coarse wool, stuffing", horse-hair or wool used as stuffing, also "shaggy garment", "garment made of coarse material". This derivation is in observance of borage's hairy stems and hairy leaves, together with the Latin suffix -ago appended. Burra is attested since the 5th century in Latin. The Latin was also spelled borra. The Latin is the source of the Italian borra = "raw hair used as wadding [olden meaning], wadding [today's meaning]" – borra @ Medieval French borre (today's French bourre) is the same word – bourre @ The suffix "-ago" in Latin means "a sort of" – e.g. virago where Latin vir = "courageous man", fabago where Latin faba = "bean", Filago where Latin filum = "filament". It is in botanical names from Latin including Filago, Medicago, Plantago, Plumbago, Selago, Solidago, Tussilago, Ventilago, fabago, githago, lentago, liliago, populago, trixago. Dictionaries who favor the derivation of the medieval Latin borrago from the Latin borra + -ago include: The Names of Plants by David Gledhill (year 2008); Dictionary of Arabic and Allied Loanwords, by Federico Corriente (year 2008); Random House Dictionary (2001); "Borra" @ (in Italian); "borraggine" in Friedrich Diez year 1864; "borage" in Walter Skeat year 1888.

General referencesEdit

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