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


caliber, calipers
قالب qālib, mold.[2] [1]
خلافة ḫalīfah/khalīfah, Caliph/Caliphate. [2] The name California is derived from a fictional paradise peopled by Black Amazons and ruled by Queen Calafia.[3][4] The story of Calafia is recorded in a 1510 work The Adventures of Esplandián, written as a sequel to Amadis de Gaula by Spanish adventure writer Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo.[5][6][7] According to Edward Everett Hale, in inventing the names, de Montalvo held in his mind the Spanish word calif, the term for a leader of an Islamic community.[8] In 1917, Ruth Putnam printed an exhaustive account of the work performed up to that time. She wrote that both Calafia and California came from the Arabic word khalifa which means steward[9] or leader. The same word in Spanish was califa, easily made into California to stand for "land of the caliph", or Calafia to stand for "female caliph".[10] Putnam also wrote that The Song of Roland held a passing mention of a place called Califerne, perhaps named thus because it was the caliph's domain, a place of infidel rebellion.[8] "Since the Roland poem concerns the "evil" Saracens, it's possible that the poet derived Califerne from caliph. Montalvo might also have been influenced by such similar names as Californo and Calafornina in Sicily or Calahorra in Spain."[11] The general consensus is that author García Ordóñez de Montalvo formed the place name "California" from the Spanish word califa, from the Arabic: خليفة ḫalīfah/khalīfah, the head of state in a Caliphate, a legacy of the Moorish Empire within Spain from 757 to 1492.[12]
كافور kāfūr, camphor from the East Indies tree Cinnamomum camphora. The medieval Arabs imported camphor by sea from the East Indies for aromatic uses and medical uses. Among the Latins the records begin in the late 9th century (with spelling cafora) though records are scarce until the 12th century.[13] [3]. Another imported East Indies wood product which had both aromatic and medical uses in late medieval Europe and had Arabic word ancestry is sandalwood, from Arabic صندل sandal.[14] The Arabs got the words in the Indies along with the goods.
قندي qandī, sugared. Arabic and Persian qand = "cane sugar" is believed to have come from Sanskritic.[15] Cane sugar developed in ancient India. The plant is native to a tropical climate. The medieval Arabs grew it with artificial irrigation and exported some of the product to the Latins. The word candi entered all the Western languages in the later medieval centuries.[16] [4]
carat (gold purity), carat (mass)
قيراط qīrāt, a small unit of weight, defined as one-twentyfourth (1/24) of the weight of a certain coin namely the medieval Arabic gold dinar, and alternatively defined by reference to a weight of (e.g.) 4 barley seeds. The Arabic word was adopted in the Western languages as a measurement term for the proportion of gold in a gold alloy, especially in a gold coin, beginning in the 13th century.[17] [5]
caraway (seed)
كرويا karawiyā, caraway seed. Pretty common in mid-medieval Arabic. Spelled "caraway" in English in the 1390s in a cookery book.[18] [6]
خرّوب kharrūb, carob. Carob beans and carob pods were consumed in the Mediterranean area from ancient times, and had several names in classical Latin. But a name of roughly around carrubia is in Latin from only the 11th century onward.[19] The late medieval Latin word is the parent of today's Italian carruba, French caroube, English carob. [7]
This is an old type of large sailing ship. The word's early records in the West are in the 12th and 13th centuries in the maritime republic of Genoa spelled carraca | caracca.[20] The word then passed into medieval French and Spanish.[21] While it is believed to have been taken from Arabic there are different contenders for which Arabic word, namely: (1) قراقير qarāqīr = "merchant ships" (plural of qurqūr, "merchant ship") and (2) حرّاقة harrāqa = "warship" [8]. Another old type of sailing ship with Arabic word-origin is the Xebec [9]. Another is the Felucca [10]. Another is the Dhow [11].
check, cheque, checkmate, chess, exchequer, chequered, unchecked, checkout, checkbox, cheque book (checkbook) ...
The many uses of "check" in English are all descended from Persian shah = "king" and the use of this word in the game of chess. Chess was introduced to Europe by Arabs, who pronounced the last h in الشاه shāh hard, giving rise to the 12th-century French form eschac (also Catalan escac), and then French eschec, which the English is derived from.[20][22][23] [12]. The "mate" in checkmate is from the medieval Arabic chess term شاه مات shāh māt = "king dies".[24] [13]
See alchemy.
cipher, decipher
صفر sifr, zero. Latin cifra was the parent of English cypher (or cipher). The word came to Latin Europe with Hindu-Arabic numerals in the later 12th century. Meaning was originally numeral zero as a positionholder, then any positional numeral, then numerically encoded message. The last meaning, and decipher, dates from the 1520s in English, 1490s in French, 1470s in Italian.[20] But in English cipher also continued to be used as another word for zero until the 19th century.[25] [14]
civet (mammal), civet (perfume)
زبد zabad, foam, spume; qatt al-zabād, "spume cat", referring to a musky perfume excreted from a gland in the African civet. Al-Masudi (died 956) said the perfume, زباد zabād, was taken from a cat-like animal in India.[26] That can be true as well because some species of civet are native in the Indies. The word is in 15th-century Italian as zibetto = "civet perfume".[20] Records of the form civet start in Catalan 1372 and French 1401.[20] [15]. Incidentally the botanical genus Abelmoschus got its name from Arabic حبّ المسك habb el-misk = "musk seed", a seed yielding a musky perfume.[27] [16]
coffee, café
قهوة qahwa, coffee. Coffee drinking originated in Yemen in the 15th century.[28] Qahwa (itself of uncertain origin) begot Turkish kahveh which begot Italian caffè. The latter word-form entered most Western languages in and around the early 17th century. The Western languages in the early 17th century also have numerous records where the word-form was taken directly from the Arabic, e.g. Cahoa in 1610, Cahue in 1615, Cowha in 1619. Turkish phonology does not have a /w/ sound, and the change from w to v in going from Arabic qahwa to Turkish kahveh can be seen in many other loanwords going from Arabic into Turkish (e.g. Arabic fatwa -> Turkish fetva).[28] [17]. Cafe mocha, a type of coffee, is named after the port city of Mocha, Yemen, which was an early coffee exporter. [18]
The earliest records in England are 1303 "cork" and 1342 "cork" meaning bulk cork bark imported from Iberia.[29] The word is believed to have come from a Spanish form alcorque = "slipper shoes made of cork". This Spanish "al-" word cannot be found in Arabic writings, but almost all etymology dictionaries nevertheless state that it is almost surely from Arabic because of the "al-". The ancient Romans used cork and called it, among other names, cortex (literally: "bark"), which is the likely ultimate origin. Crossref modern Spanish es:Alcornoque = "cork tree" and es:Corcho = "cork material". Corcho is not from Arabic.[30] [19]
قطن qutn | qutun, cotton. This word entered the Romance languages in the mid-12th century[20] and English a century later. Cotton fabric was known to the ancient Romans but it was rare in the Romance-speaking lands until imports from the Arabic-speaking lands in the later medieval era at transformatively lower prices.[31] [20]
crimson, carmine
قرمزي qirmizī, color of a certain red dye widely used in the later medieval era for dyeing silk and wool. See kermes in this list. The letter 'n' in crimson and carmine descends from the medieval Latin forms cremesinus | carmesinus where -inus is a Latin suffix.[32] [21]
curcuma (plant genus), curcumin (yellow dye), curcuminoid (chemicals)
كركم kurkum, meaning ground turmeric root, also saffron. Turmeric dye gives a saffron yellow colour. Medieval Arabic dictionaries say kurkum is used as a yellow dye and used as a medicine.[33] In the West the early records have meaning turmeric and they are in late medieval Latin medical books that were influenced by Arabic medicine.[34] [22]


damask (textile fabric), damask rose (flower)
دمشق dimashq, Damascus. The city name Damascus is very ancient and not Arabic. The damson plum – earlier called also the damask plum and damascene plum – has a word-history in Latin that goes back to the days when Damascus was part of the Roman empire and so it is not from Arabic. On the other hand, the damask fabric and the damask rose emerged in the Western languages when Damascus was an Arabic-speaking city; and apparently they referred to goods originally sold from or made in Arabic Damascus.[35] [23]


الإكسير al-'iksīr, alchemical philosopher's stone. The Arabs took the word from the Greek xēron, then prepended Arabic al- = "the". The Greek had entered Arabic meaning a dry powder for treating wounds.[24] The Arabic alchemy sense entered Latin in the 12th century.[20] Elixir is in all European languages today. [24]
erg (landform), hamada (landform), sabkha (landform), wadi (landform)
عرق ʿerq, sandy desert landscape. حمادة ḥamāda, craggy desert landscape with very little sand. Those words are established in geology including sedimentology. Their entrypoint was in late-19th-century studies of the Sahara Desert.[36] [25]
سبخة sabkha, salt marsh. The word occurs occasionally in English and French in the 19th century. Sabkha with a technical meaning as coastal salt-flat terrain came into general use in sedimentology in the 20th century through numerous studies of the coastal salt flats on the eastern side of the Arabian peninsula.[37] [26]
وادي wādī, a river valley or gully. In English, a wadi is a non-small gully that is dry, or dry for most of the year, in the desert. [27]


fennec (desert fox)
فنك fenek, fennec fox. European naturalists borrowed it in the late 18th century. (In older Arabic writings, fenek also designated various other mammals[38]). [28]

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

First appearance in the West around 1500 in Italian, 1570 Spanish.[20] The Arabic hypothesis is that the verb غرف gharf means to scoop up water for a drink, which you can do by cupping your hands together or by using any scooping or lifting tool at all, and the name of the tool can be the noun غرافة gharāfa. Gharāfa is a good fit phonologically, and can carry the semantics of an intermediate container for a drink, but the word is almost completely absent from Arabic writings and almost completely lacking in other support from history.[39] [29]
Probably from ضرب ḍarb, to strike or hit with a cudgel. The word is not in other European languages. The English word "appears first after 1600; all the early instances, before 1663, are from travellers in the Orient, and refer to the bastinado. Hence, in the absence of any other tenable suggestion, it may be conjectured to represent Arabic ضرب daraba (also pronounced duruba), to beat, to bastinado, and the verbal noun darb (also pronounced durb)."[40] [30]
fanfare, fanfaronade
The English fanfare is from French fanfare, which is very probably from Spanish "fanfarria" and "fanfarrón" meaning bluster, grandstanding, and windbag, which is of obscure origin and is perhaps from medieval Arabic "farfar" meaning yap-yapping (onomatopoeic).[41] [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. The idea that Western calibre = "gun-barrel size" comes etymologically from Arabic qālib = "mold" is an old idea which can be found in Gilles Ménage's Dictionnaire Etymologique year 1670. Most dictionaries still adhere to this idea today and the majority of them say the transmission to the West was through Italian. That has the weakness that the word is not attested in Italian until 1606 whereas it is in French in 1478 (ref), 1523 (ref (page 73)), 1548, 1567, 1571 and many other times later in the 16th century in French; and in English in 1567, 1588, 1591 and later. The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology by Robert K. Barnhart says "Italian calibro (1606) and Spanish calibre (1594) appear too late to act as intermediate forms between Middle French and Arabic qalib", but goes on to say Middle French calibre probably did come from the Arabic somehow. Likewise the Castilian Spanish Diccionario RAE and the Catalan Spanish say their word calibre is from the French which in turn is, or perhaps is, from Arabic qālib. Evidence is very scant for transmission of Arabic qālib = "mold" to Western calibre by any route. Hence the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (the NED) says the Western word is "of uncertain origin". The NED's judgment is in the minority.
  3. Putnam, Ruth (1917). "Appendix A: Etymology of the Word "California": Surmises and Usage", in Herbert Ingram Priestley: California: the name. Berkeley: University of California, 356–361. 
  4. Vogeley, Nancy (April 20, 2001). "How Chivalry Formed the Myth of California". Modern Language Quarterly 62 (2): 165–188. University of Washington. doi:10.1215/00267929-62-2-165. 
  5. Gudde, Erwin G. and William Bright. 2004. California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. p. 59–60
  6. Lavender, David (1987). California: Land of New Beginnings. University of Nebraska Press, 27. ISBN 0-8032-7924-8. OCLC 15315566. 
  7. "Online Etymology Dictionary". (June 24, 1957). Retrieved on July 2, 2010.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Polk, 1995, p. 130
  9. The word khalifa has a strong religious connotation in Arabic because the Quran states that Man is the steward of God's earth, implying that he is neither its owner or inheritor [Sura Al-Baqara 2:30].
  10. Putnam, 1917, p. 356
  11. Words@Random."The Maven's Word of the Day, California." April 26, 2000. Retrieved 2006-09-19.
  12. Josep Font i Huguet (1980). Sentiment català (in Catalan). Josep Font i Huguet, 179. ISBN 978-84-300-3631-8. Retrieved on 25 September 2012. 
  13. Book An Historical Geography of Camphor by R.A. Donkin (1999), chapter 4 "Western Asia" and chapter 5 "The Medieval West". See also etymology of French camphre @ The word is in Greek as kaphoura circa 1075 in Simeon Seth, a writer influenced by Arabic medicine. Records exist in Greek that may date from centuries earlier than Simeon Seth but the dating is afflicted with uncertainties.
  14. English "sandalwood" descends from medieval Latin sandalus | sandalum which is ultimately from Sanskrit čandana = "sandalwood". The sandalwood aromatic wood came from the Indies. The word was sandal in medieval Arabic. The word is found in late classical Greek as santalon. Some etymology dictionaries derive the medieval Latin from the Greek with disregard for the Arabic. Others derive the medieval Latin from the Arabic with disregard for the Greek on the grounds that (a) the 'd' in the Arabic can explain how the Latin has a 'd'; (b) Arabic (especially Yemeni) seafarers were the main providers of sandalwood to medieval Europe; and (c) the Latin emerges too late for a Greek source to be likely: cites the 11th-century medical writer Constantinus Africanus for the earliest record of sandalus | sandalum in Latin. The book The Moluccas and the Traffic in Spices up to the Arrival of Europeans, by Robin A. Donkin, year 2003, pages 110, 114, 116, 122, has some early history for sandalwood in Europe. According to this book there is a record in Late Classical Latin as santalium (clearly borrowed from the Late Classical Greek) but when Constantinus Africanus used it as sandalus | sandalum in the 11th century the word had been absent in Latin for over six centuries, or more exactly the book's author does not know of a surviving record from all those intervening centuries. Many records are in later medieval Latin. The medieval Arabs used sandalwood in medicine (e.g.) and that was copied by the late medieval Latins (e.g.). Dictionaries deriving the Latin from the Arabic include ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, and others. The scientific or New Latin name for the sandalwood tree genus is Santalum, a word that arose as a later re-fashioning from the Greek – ref. Cf. ref.
  15. An ancient Sanskrit text called Arthashastra has word khanda meaning cane sugar made in a certain way – The Sugar Cane Industry: An Historical Geography from its Origins to 1914, by J.H. Galloway, year 1989, page 20. Khanda in Sanskritic has a broad meaning of "broken" and is used as a qualifier on granulated and candied sugars in India still – Yule & Burnell, year 1903. It is believed to be the parent of the Persian qand = "sugar". In subtle contrast, medieval Arabic qand = "the juice or honey of sugar cane" ( The Arabic was probably from the Persian, as per the historical diffusion evidence in Galloway's book page 24.
  16. The medieval Arabic dictionaries including the al-Sihāh dictionary dated about 1003 have قند qand defined firstly as the juice or honey of sugar cane. Arabic qandī = "from qand" or "of qand". Candy's earliest dates in the Western languages: French candi = 1256; Anglo-Latin candy = 1274; Spanish cande = 1325–1326; Italian candi = 14th century; German kandith = probably circa 1400, German zuckerkandyt = 1470; English candy = circa 1420. An English-to-Latin dictionary dated circa 1440 has English sukyr candy translated as Latin sucura de candia. The word is rare in English until the later 16th century. Refs:,, UMich MED, Raja Tazi, NED, Promptorium parvulorum. See also history of sugar.
  17. Qīrāt = "carat" was common in medieval Arabic as a unit of weight. It had more than one precise definition and the definition by reference to the weight of the gold dinar coin was common – قيراط @ In the early records of the word in medieval French and English, it referred to the purity of gold, most often of gold coins, and is seen additionally as a unit of weight only later on – ref: DMF, ref: MED. The Arabic qīrāt descended from an ancient Greek word keration, which was a small unit of weight too. Some history about the definition of a carat as a weight is in Yule & Burnell (year 1903). In classical Latin and early medieval Latin there was a unit of weight corresponding to a carat but it was called a completely different name, siliqua. Isidore of Seville (died 636) wrote in Latin: "A siliqua is one twenty-fourth of the weight of a Solidus gold coin" (Origines book XVI para 25). The word cerates or ceratium meaning a small weight was also used by the widely read Latin author Isidore of Seville and that word of Isidore's certainly descended from Greek keration without Arabic intermediation. That might raise the possibility that the later medieval Latin wordforms caratum and caratus might have come directly from earlier Latin and Greek, or else concurrently from Arabic qīrāt and the Latin and Greek. The Old Portuguese form quirate is clearly from the Arabic – Skeat (year 1888). Likewise Catalan quirat (1315) – In later-14th-century French, as a measure of the purity of gold, it is found spelled caraz, quaraz and karaz – ref: DMF – and those variant spellings demonstrate a non-Latin source. The form "24 quaratus" is in Latin in 1327 in reference to the purity of gold – ref: Du Cange – and it is taken to be from Arabic by all etymology reporters since the 17th-century reporter Gilles Ménage. (Ménage's take on carat is at In Italy, a Latin caratus in 1264 and Italian carato in 1278 occur about a century earlier than the earliest record of any form of the word in French (ref: and two centuries earlier than the earliest in English (ref: MED). The earliest in English is 1469 (ref: MED), while the earliest known record in English where the word was used as a weight is 1575 – ref: NED. The earliest in Spanish is in the form alquilate in 1290 as per Corominas.
  18. Al-karawiyā = "caraway" is in medieval general-purpose dictionaries in Arabic (, and it was used by among others Al-Razi before 930 (ref), Ibn Hawqal before 980 (ref), Ibn Sina before 1037 (ref), and Ibn al-'Awwam (ref). Ibn al-'Awwam in Andalusia in the late 12th century described how to grow a crop of caraway seeds and also crops of nigella seeds (aka black caraway), cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, anise seeds and various other aromatic seeds. Old Spanish alcarahueya (modern Spanish alcaravea) = "caraway" is from the Arabic. Medieval Latin carui | carvi = "caraway" appears to have come in part from the same Arabic, but there is a question and lack of clarity about this because classical Greek karon | karos, classical Latin careum and medieval Latin caruum | carea designated aromatic seeds including cumin, nigella, cardamom, caraway, and perhaps others, among different writers. In late medieval English the most common word-form was "caraway" (phonetically close to the Old Spanish), but "carwy" was also in use (phonetically close to the Latin), as shown in the UMich Middle English Dictionary. Some additional comment at "history of caraway" in Drugs of Vegetable Origin, year 1879 page 305.
  19. Regarding "carob", medieval Arabic had two spellings, kharrūb and kharnūb. Both spellings are listed by medieval Arabic dictionaries – A medical encyclopedia in Latin by Matthaeus Silvaticus dated 1317 listed the spellings karnub, carnub, karubia, carrubia, currubiaref. A very early Latin record, from the 11th century, has it spelled
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 20.7 More details at Etymologie in French language. This site is a division of the French National Centre for Scientific Research.
  21. That the carrack sailing ship name (Spanish carraca) originated in Italy is noted by Diccionario RAE and
  22. Reported in "An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language" by Walter W. Skeat (year 1888). Downloadable at
  23. When borrowing a word from Persian whose final letter was ـه h, medieval Arabic tended to change the final letter to q or j. Some medieval examples are in Lammens, year 1890 page 103.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Glossaire des mots espagnols et portugais dérivés de l'arabe by R. Dozy & W.H. Engelmann. 430 pages. Published in 1869.
  25. Nathan Bailey's English Dictionary in year 1726 defined zero as "a word used for cypher or nought especially by the French" – ref. Samuel Johnson's English Dictionary in 1755 and 1785 did not include the word zero at all. The usual names for zero in English from the late medieval period until well into the 19th century were "nought" and "cifre" | "cipher" – ref1a, ref1b, ref2a, ref2b. Meanwhile, the use of "cipher" & "decipher" to mean "encrypt" & "decrypt" started in English in the 16th century, borrowed from French – ref.
  26. "Civette" in Remarques sur les mots français dérivés de l'arabe, by Henri Lammens, year 1890. Al-Masudi's 10th century Arabic together with modern French translation is in chapter 33 of Al-Masudi's Prairies d'Or.
  27. The "musk seed" or "abelmosk" plant is native to tropical Asia and requires a long growing season (ref). It was in irrigated cultivation in Egypt in the late 16th and early 17th centuries and that was when European taxonomists got specimens of it from Egypt and adopted the name from Egypt – Etymologisches Wörterbuch der botanischen Pflanzennamen, by Helmut Genaust, year 1996. The Latin botanist Prospero Alpini (died 1617) visited Egypt in the 1580s. He called the plant "Abelmosch", "Aegyptii Mosch", and "Bammia Muschata", where بامية bāmiya is Arabic for okra, aka Abelmoschus esculentus, mosch is Latin for musk, Aegypti is Latin for Egypt, and Abel is an Italian-Latin representation of Arabic habb el- = "seed" – De Plantis Exoticis, by Prospero Alpini (in Latin, published 1629); written "hab el mosch" in De Plantis Aegyptiis by Johann Veslingius and Prospero Alpini, in Latin, year 1638. Some other European taxonomists of the 17th and 18th centuries called it instead "Ketmia Aegyptiaca" (e.g.). A second tropical genus in the same botanical family whose name is a loanword from Egypt from the same point in time is Melochia, from Arabic ملوخية molūkhiya – ref Helmut Genaust 1996.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Book: All About Coffee, by William H. Ukers (year 1922), chapter 1 "Dealing with the Etymology of Coffee" and chapter 3 "Early History of Coffee Drinking". According to this book, coffee-drinking as we know it has its earliest reliable record in mid-15th-century Yemen. It arrived in Cairo in the early 16th, and became widespread in the Ottoman Empire during the 16th. It arrived in Western Europe in the early 17th. The earliest European importers were Venetians who used the word caffè (1615), from Turkish kahveh. The predominance of Venetians in the seaborne trade between the Ottoman Empire and the West helped this word (and derivations from it) prevail in the West. Most dictionaries say English coffee (and Dutch koffie) is from the Venetian/Italian but some judge it to be independently from the Turkish.
  29. "Cork" in the Middle English Dictionary.
  30. English "cork" has or probably has Arabic ancestry via Spanish alcorque according to Weekley (1921), Klein (1966), Partrige (1966), Ayto (2005), Etymonline (2010), Random House (2010), American Heritage (2009), Concise OED (2010), Collins English (2010), and Merriam-Webster (2010). Most of these also say the Arabic in turn is connectable back to classical Latin quercus = "[cork] oak tree" or else to classical Latin cortex = "[cork] bark". It may be noted that classical Latin larix is the source for the tree-name in English larch, German Lärche, Italian larice, Portuguese lariço, and Spanish alerce, and while the prepended 'a' on the Spanish alerce may perhaps reflect an Arabic influence it is not by itself enough to prove an Arabic source for Spanish alerce. Neither larch nor cork are attested as words in medieval Arabic writings and the larch tree does not grow natively in Arabic-speaking lands. (Compare entries for alcornoque, alcorque, corcho, and alerce in An Etymological Dictionary of the Romance Languages, Diez tr. Donkin (year 1864)). Despite the absence of a "cork" word in Arabic writings, an Arabic–Latin dictionary written in Spain by an anonymous native Spanish speaker during the late 13th century (estimated date) contains an Arabic قرق qorq translated to Latin as "sotular" – Vocabulista in Arabico. The Latin "sotular" meant "shoe" (in general a leather-made shoe) – DuCange's Medieval Latin Glossary. In English in 1391 "corkes" meant shoes or sandals, presumably made of cork – Middle English Dictionary. In Spanish in 1458 alcorque meant shoe-slippers made of cork – NED. The Spanish almadreña = "wooden clog shoes" has no precedent in Arabic writings and instead appears to be purely Spanish madreña | madereña, from Spanish madera = "wood", from a classical Latin word for wood, with "al-" prefixed in Spanish – Dozy and Engelmann page 372. The same can be the case with Spanish alcorque = "cork slipper shoes" in view of its complete absence in medieval Arabic writers. Since the English "cork" meant bulk cork bark from its earliest records, the parent of English "cork" can have been Spanish corcho = "cork bark" not Spanish alcorque = "cork slipper shoes". Looking at it phonetically there is not much to prefer between "cortch-o" and "al-cor-gay" as a parent for "cork". The classical Latin cortex = "bark of any tree" produced today's Spanish corteza = "bark of any tree" and today's Portuguese cortiça = exclusively "cork bark" (and the classical Latin suber meaning exclusively "cork bark" produced today's Portuguese súber = "bark of any tree"). Spanish pancho is from Latin pantex, Spanish mucho from Latin multus, Spanish ocho and dicho from Latin octo and dictus, Spanish percha from Latin pertica, all without Arabic intermediation, and corcho is adjudged to be similarly evolved from cortex by Dozy, Diez, Corominas, DRAE, and other Spanish experts. But most experts believe the wordform alcorque exhibits Arabic intermediation.
  31. Book The Italian Cotton Industry in the Later Middle Ages, by Maureen Fennell Mazzaoui (Cambridge University Press 1981), Chapter I: "Cotton cultivation in the ancient and medieval world" and Chapter II: "The Mediterranean cotton trade 1100–1600".
  32. In the later medieval centuries in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Latin the kermes dye was called grain (or grana | granum). It was also called in English "cremesyn" | "crimsin", French cramoisi, Italian cremisi, Spanish carmesí. In Latin it was usually in the form cremesinus | carmesinus | carmisinus, where the Latin suffix -inus in vaguest sense means "pertaining to" and includes a meaning of "made from". The Latin is dated later medieval. The English and French word "carmine" does not appear until the 18th century in English and French, but it appears occasionally in late medieval Latin as carminum = "kermes", a form which is basically a contraction of carmesinus = "kermes", the form possibly influenced within Latin by the red mineral pigment name minium – carmine @ NED,, Alphita. The form kermes entered English and French in the 16th century, possibly from Spanish quermes or Italian chermes (pronounced kermes) meaning the same – kermes @ NED,
  33. 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.
  34. Regarding "curcuma", an early record in Latin is in a medical dictionary dated 1292, Synonyma Medicinae by Simon of Genoa. Also in the late medieval Latin pharmacy book Antidotarium by Pseudo-Mesué. In English the early records are in medical books and two examples from at or before 1425 are in the UMich Middle English Dictionary: example 1, example 2. In example 2 a Latin text by Guy de Chauliac dated 1363 was translated to English before 1425. In it, the Latin word "curcuma" was written down in English as "curcuma" and described as "the root of citrines", which appears to mean turmeric, or at least a root of turmeric colour – see citrine.
  35. In French, Italian and Spanish the word for damask is the same as the word for Damascus. In late medieval English the city name Damascus was often written Damask. Some history for the English words "damask", "damask rose", "damaskeen", etc., and "damson", is in A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (year 1897).The late medieval European "damask" was a costly decorated fabric, which was usually but not necessarily of silk. The commencement of records for the damask fabric is in the 14th century in French, English, Catalan, and Latin – ref, ref, ref (and ref cf.). The term "damask steel", "damascus steel" and "damascening (metals)" has a 16th-century introduction date and it is a metaphorical extension from the damask textile fabric, notwithstanding that Damascus had a reputation for steel-making with a prior history; "Damascus Steel in Legend and in Reality" (year 1965). With regard to the textile fabric, the city of Damascus in the later medieval centuries had a reputation for high-quality silk brocades (e.g.: quote from year 1154). In Europe, "traders fastened the name of damascen or damask upon every silken fabric richly wrought and curiously designed, no matter whether it came or not from Damascus" (quoting 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica). Starting out from a similar marketing motive, fine silk fabric was commonly called in late medieval English "sarcenet", a word that was derived from "Saracen" meaning a Muslim. Sarcenet got established as a term in late medieval Europe on the basis of the good reputation of silk fabrics imported from Muslim countries. A word for plain silk that is in most of the Arabic medieval dictionaries is dimaqs. The Arabic medieval dictionaries do not have dimashq (Damascus) for any kind of fabric. One of them does have dimashq for the damask rose. See دمقس and دمشق @
  36. Etymology at: Erg and Hamada (in French). Definition of hamada in a geology dictionary at ref (in English).
  37. An Intro to Sabkhas. Also A Proposed Formal Definition for Sabkha.
  38. In medieval Arabic fenek | fanak could be any mammal species whose pelts were used to make fur coats for humans and most often these were species of the weasel family., Devic, Dozy & Engelmann.
  39. Gharrāf meaning a carafe or jug is on record in Arabic in the later 19th century – ref: Henri Lammens, year 1890. Henri Lammens cites both his own experience in the Levant and a report by es:José María Lerchundi in Morocco. But that Arabic word has to be suspected as borrowed from Europe because there is no known record in Arabic at a sufficiently early date. The meanings of the old rootword غرف gharaf and words derived from it are given in Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon Volume 6 and the abbreviations used by Lane's Lexicon are expanded and dated in Volume 1, pages xxx - xxxi. The origin of "carafe" is discussed in French in Dozy, year 1869 and
  40. "Drub" in NED (year 1897).
  41. The Arabic farfar | farfār | farfara is present in the various medieval Arabic dictionaries at with meanings including "frivolousness" and "hollering and ranting". Farfār | Farfara is in Richardson's year 1852 Arabic-English dictionary meaning "talkative" and "flighty" (ref), though it is not in the Arabic dictionaries of today. This proposed Arabic source-word for the Spanish is contemplated but not fully endorsed by the French etymology authority, fanfaron @ Likewise says fanfare was "perhaps borrowed from Arabic farfar = chatterer". Likewise American Heritage Dictionary says fanfaronade is "perhaps from Arabic farfār".

General referencesEdit

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