International Words of Arabic Origin

< Previous | Next >

Whodunit

Senior Member
Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
Today I read that the word "sofa", which is used in German, English, French, and many other languages, is of Arabic origin. Do you think that صوف or صوفي would be the original word which mean "wool" or "woolen".

I'd also like to know if there're more of such words that are used in very many languages. Now I only know 4 Arabic words that are maybe world-widely understood. Would you be so kind and add some more, please?

alkohol [الكحل]
bank [بنك]
Sultan [سلطان]

Thanks in advance. :)
 
  • Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    Wazir is pretty international,
    shukkar is of Arabic origin AFAIK,
    admiral,
    giraffe,
    elixir,
    alchymy,
    hashish,
    algebra,
    nadir/zenith

    More to come, hopefully. :)

    Jana
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Some questions:

    Wazir is pretty international, (I wouldn't be so sure ... I think it's as international as 'inshallah' :D)
    shukkar is of Arabic origin AFAIK, (Are you sure you didn't mean "sukkar")
    admiral, (good one, although I don't know how to write it in Arabic)
    giraffe, (I wonder about the spelling. Is it really derived from Arabic?)
    elixir, (What is this supposed to mean?)
    alchymy, (good, I knew that, but didn't remember; thanks for refreshing my brain :))
    hashish, (excellent!)
    algebra, (good one too)
    nadir/zenith (What does 'nadir' mean?)

    Thank you very much, Jana. :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Some comments...

    Whodunit said:
    Today I read that the word "sofa", which is used in German, English, French, and many other languages, is of Arabic origin. Do you think that صوف or صوفي would be the original word which mean "wool" or "woolen". That sounds plausible. I didn't know the word was of Arabic origin!

    I'd also like to know if there're more of such words that are used in very many languages. Now I only know 4 Arabic words that are maybe world-widely understood. Would you be so kind and add some more, please?

    alkohol [الكحل] This is actually from the plural form of this word, الكحول - that's why there's a second o in English.
    bank [بنك] I didn't know this came from Arabic either; I thought we took it from a foreign language! :)
    Sultan [سلطان]

    Thanks in advance. :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Some replies to your questions...

    Whodunit said:
    Some questions:

    Wazir is pretty international, (I wouldn't be so sure ... I think it's as international as 'inshallah' :D) It's no less valid than "sultan." :) I think it works.
    shukkar is of Arabic origin AFAIK, (Are you sure you didn't mean "sukkar") "Sukkar" is not an English word. :) However, I'm not sure about "shukkar." She may have meant "chukkar," but according to Dictionary.com that's of Hindi origin.
    admiral, (good one, although I don't know how to write it in Arabic) It comes from امير ال [the prince of]. I guess "the ship" is understood. ;)
    giraffe, (I wonder about the spelling. Is it really derived from Arabic?) Yes, it is. The Arabic is زرافة [zaraafah].
    elixir, (What is this supposed to mean?) It's a type of medicinal mixture, or a philosophical principle. It comes from the Arabic الإكسير (al-iksiir)
    alchymy, (good, I knew that, but didn't remember; thanks for refreshing my brain :)) It's spelled "alchemy," though.
    hashish, (excellent!) :)
    algebra, (good one too) quite a classical one, too :)
    nadir/zenith (What does 'nadir' mean?) "Nadir" is the opposite of "zenith" - so "lowest point."

    Thank you very much, Jana. :)
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    My comments:

    That sounds plausible. I didn't know the word was of Arabic origin!

    I didn't know that either until I looked that word up in the "Duden". :D

    This is actually from the plural form of this word, الكحول - that's why there's a second o in English.

    Indeed. By the way, do you really mean "plural form". I thought the word per se was كحول, just adding the definite article. So German "der Alkohol" is actually a bit redundant. ;) Doesn't كحل without و mean "antimony"?

    I didn't know this came from Arabic either; I thought we took it from a foreign language!

    I have no idea, but I imagine I just read it once somewhere. Wikipedia says it comes from German. :eek:
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    shukkar is of Arabic origin AFAIK, (Are you sure you didn't mean "sukkar") "Sukkar" is not an English word. :) However, I'm not sure about "shukkar." She may have meant "chukkar," but according to Dictionary.com that's of Hindi origin.
    Sorry, I meant sukkar - sugar.
    It's spelled "alchemy," though.
    Czenglish. :eek:

    caftan (unsure...)
    lemon (again unsure)
    harem (?Turkish?)
    algorithm
    gazelle
    fakir

    Jana

     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    elroy said:
    It's no less valid than "sultan." :) I think it works.
    Can you imagine almost no native speaker of German would understand "Wazir", but "Sultan"? ;)

    "Sukkar" is not an English word. :) However, I'm not sure about "shukkar." She may have meant "chukkar," but according to Dictionary.com that's of Hindi origin.
    Well, I thought of "sugar" (Arabic: sukkar). Is that what you are talking about?

    It comes from امير ال [the prince of]. I guess "the ship" is understood. ;)
    That's why I couldn't find it the dictionary, the "d" is missing.

    Yes, it is. The Arabic is زرافة [zaraafah].

    But that doesn't come close to any language's pronunciation of the word "giraffe", does it? (Except for the Arabic's, of course ;))

    It's a type of medicinal mixture, or a philosophical principle. It comes from the Arabic الإكسير (al-iksiir)

    Never heard of that. :confused:
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Whodunit said:
    Can you imagine almost no native speaker of German would understand "Wazir", but "Sultan"? ;)
    I didn't say they were just as common as each other. But they are similar in that they are both directly taken from Arabic and refer to political positions.

    Well, I thought of "sugar" (Arabic: sukkar). Is that what you are talking about?

    I realize that. However, Jana wrote "shukkar." She could not have possibly meant "sugar" - too would have been too many typos.

    But that doesn't come close to any language's pronunciation of the word "giraffe", does it? (Except for the Arabic's, of course ;))
    Yes, it does. All you have to do is change the "g" to a "z."


     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    Whodunit said:
    Never heard of that. :confused:
    Never heard of the Arabic origins of the word? Or never heard the word? :confused:
    Eli|xier, das; -s, -e [alchemistenlat. elixirium < arab. al-iksir= (mit Artikel) der Stein der Weisen, eigtl.= trockene Substanz mit magischen Eigenschaften < griech. xerion= trockenes (Heilmittel)]: Heiltrank; Zaubertrank.
    Duden
    It is very common in Czech.

    Jana
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    elroy said:
    I realize that. However, Jana wrote "shukkar." She could not have possibly meant "sugar"
    OK, sorry again - quite inconsistently with the rest of the post, I wrote the word in Arabic (and I misspelled it).
    too would have been too many typos.
    Luckily, I am not the only one. ;)

    Jana

     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    elroy said:
    I didn't say they were just as common as each other. But they are similar in that they are both directly taken from Arabic and refer to political positions.
    I've never denied that. ;)


    I realize that. However, Jana wrote "shukkar." She could not have possibly meant "sugar" - two would have been too many typos.
    "Typos" is the cue. :D Do you really think "sugar" is derived from Arabic? If so, why shouldn't "bank"?

    Yes, it does. All you have to do is change the "g" to a "z."
    But they're not such close sounds as if a sound shift could apply here. ;)
     

    morgoth2604

    Senior Member
    Israel - (Fluent Hebrew and English), Passable French, Horrid German
    Hello, I'm new the forums, so hello to everyone! I thought maybe to add a few comments:

    -I think in English Wazir, is more likely known as Vizier.

    - I've been wondering for quite a while about Sukar, I guess it's probable, Sukkar is also Sugar in Hebrew.

    - I don't know how it is in Arabic, but in Hebrew Eretz means Earth. Eretz >>>Earth, anyone think those might be connected?
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    morgoth2604 said:
    Hello, I'm new the forums, so hello to everyone! I thought maybe to add a few comments:

    -I think in English Wazir, is more likely known as Vizier.

    - I've been wondering for quite a while about Sukar, I guess it's probable, Sukkar is also Sugar in Hebrew.

    - I don't know how it is in Arabic, but Eretz means Earth. Eretz >>>Earth, anyone think those might be connected?
    Hi and welcome! :)

    Now I recall - my teacher of Arabic told me that the word "earth" comes from that language: 3arD - الأرض

    Jana
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Jana337 said:
    Hi and welcome! :)

    Now I recall - my teacher of Arabic told me that the word "earth" comes from that language: 3arD - الأرض

    Jana
    I've always been wondering whether Arabic and German are connected via the word "2ard", since in German it's "Erde", which sounds very similar. ;)

    By the by, welcome Morgoth. :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Whodunit said:
    "Typos" is the cue. :D Do you really think "sugar" is derived from Arabic? If so, why shouldn't "bank"?
    "Sugar" is definitely of Arabic origin. I didn't know that "bank" was simply because I thought we had taken it from English (or German, or some other language). It doesn't really sound like a "pure" Arabic word.

    In fact, looking up the word in an online etymology dictionary, I see nothing that indicates an Arabic origin...

    But they're not such close sounds as if a sound shift could apply here. ;)
    They may not be the closest sounds linguistically, but I can assure you "giraffe" is of Arabic origin.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    morgoth2604 said:
    Hello, I'm new the forums, so hello to everyone! I thought maybe to add a few comments:

    -I think in English Wazir, is more likely known as Vizier.

    - I've been wondering for quite a while about Sukar, I guess it's probable, Sukkar is also Sugar in Hebrew.

    - I don't know how it is in Arabic, but in Hebrew Eretz means Earth. Eretz >>>Earth, anyone think those might be connected?
    Might I also welcome you to the forums. :)

    Your suggestion about "vizier" seems plausible. As for "sugar," I'm pretty sure it's of Arabic origin. Historically speaking, due to trade between the Arab world and the West, it is more likely that the word was transmitted to the other languages through Arabic.

    Hebrew "sokar" is of course similar because they're both Semitic languages.

    Some more information.

    Again, Hebrew "eretz" and Arabic " 'ard" are related, but "earth" sounds more similar to the Arabic.

    Thanks for your contributions! :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Jana337 said:
    Hi and welcome! :)

    Now I recall - my teacher of Arabic told me that the word "earth" comes from that language: 3arD - الأرض

    Jana
    Small correction:

    There is no 3, unless you mean "width," "honor," or "offer." :)
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    elroy said:
    Small correction:

    There is no 3, unless you mean "width" or "honor." :)
    Thanks. Will I ever learn those numbers? Anyway, it is still better to mess up the transliteration and get right the Arabic word then the other way round. :)
    So 2arD, right?

    Jana
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Jana337 said:
    Thanks. Will I ever learn those numbers? Anyway, it is still better to mess up the transliteration and get right the Arabic word then the other way round. :)
    So 2arD, right?

    Jana
    Correct. Or just "arD." :)

    Remember that 3 is used to represent ع because the latter looks like a backwards 3. ;)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    By the way, I am changing the title of this thread to reflect the breadth and multiplicity of the content therein.
     

    Agnès E.

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Bonjour ! :)
    We also have sucre (sugar) in French, élixir (elixir), and banque (bank), which is said (according to my Robert dictionary) to come from the Italian word banca (bench).
    Zéro (zero) is said (according to my Robert dictionary) to come from sifr (empty?). And café (coffee) is coming from qahwa (?); and funnily, the French colloquial word for café is caoua! Please forgive my mistakes, I can't write or speak Arabic. :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Agnès E. said:
    Bonjour ! :)
    We also have sucre (sugar) in French, élixir (elixir), and banque (bank), which is said (according to my Robert dictionary) to come from the Italian word banca (bench).
    Zéro (zero) is said (according to my Robert dictionary) to come from sifr (empty?). And café (coffee) is coming from qahwa (?); and funnily, the French colloquial word for café is caoua! Please forgive my mistakes, I can't write or speak Arabic. :)
    Sifr is simply the Arabic word for zero.

    Empty would be faregh.

    I didn't know about caoua! :)

    Another French word that comes to mind is cadi, the Arabic word for judge.
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    Whodunit said:
    The "Duden" suggests "Kandis" (German for "suggar candy") is of Arabic origin. However, I can't find the proper Arabic spelling. :(
    I googled سكر قن together and some links show this:

    سكر=قند

    Jana
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    My Portuguese dictionary says our word for sugar is derived from Arabic, which in turn borrowed it from Sanskrit.
     

    Swettenham

    Senior Member
    U.S.
    elroy said:
    "Sugar" is definitely of Arabic origin. I didn't know that "bank" was simply because I thought we had taken it from English (or German, or some other language). It doesn't really sound like a "pure" Arabic word.

    In fact, looking up the word in an online etymology dictionary, I see nothing that indicates an Arabic origin...
    Here's what my dictionary says: [Fr. banque < OItal. banca, bench, moneychanger's table < OHGer. banc.]
     

    Swettenham

    Senior Member
    U.S.
    elroy said:
    Your suggestion about "vizier" seems plausible. As for "sugar," I'm pretty sure it's of Arabic origin. Historically speaking, due to trade between the Arab world and the West, it is more likely that the word was transmitted to the other languages through Arabic.
    My dictionary again: [ ...(portions omitted)... < Ar. sukkar < Pers. shakar < Skt. sarkara, grit, ground sugar.]

    Again, Hebrew "eretz" and Arabic " 'ard" are related, but "earth" is closer to sounds more similar to the Arabic.
    [ME erthe < OE eorthe] I think it's somewhat unlikely that the ancestors of English speakers didn't have a word for "earth" long before making contact with Arabic speakers.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Swettenham said:
    [ME erthe < OE eorthe] I think it's somewhat unlikely that the ancestors of English speakers didn't have a word for "earth" long before making contact with Arabic speakers.
    You have a point. However, it could have been a synonym that gradually gained more and more popularity - just a thought. :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Whodunit said:
    This is actually from the plural form of this word, الكحول - that's why there's a second o in English.

    Indeed. By the way, do you really mean "plural form". I thought the word per se was كحول, just adding the definite article. So German "der Alkohol" is actually a bit redundant. ;) Doesn't كحل without و mean "antimony"?
    Yes, I meant "plural form."

    The singular is كحل and the plural is كحول.

    "Der Alkohol" is in fact redundant, but that has nothing to do with whether it's singular or plural: it's redundant because "der" and "al" mean the same thing. :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Jana337 said:
    Sorry, I meant sukkar - sugar.

    Czenglish. :eek:

    caftan (unsure...)
    lemon (again unsure)
    harem (?Turkish?)
    algorithm
    gazelle
    fakir

    Jana

    I've never heard of caftan or fakir! :)

    The other words are of Arabic origin.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    elroy said:
    Yes, I meant "plural form."

    The singular is كحل and the plural is كحول.
    So "antimony" doesn't mean "كحل" in Arabic, as my dictionary and Wikipedia claim it?

    "Der Alkohol" is in fact redundant, but that has nothing to do with whether it's singular or plural: it's redundant because "der" and "al" mean the same thing. :)
    I was indeed referring to the articles, not to the number. ;)
     

    Swettenham

    Senior Member
    U.S.
    elroy said:
    You have a point. However, it could have been a synonym that gradually gained more and more popularity - just a thought. :)
    That's certainly not unimaginable, especially given that Arabic advances in navigation helped to drastically redefine England's definition of "earth." ;)
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    I am having doubts about the Arabic origin of earth.
    Etymology: Earth \Earth\, noun. [Anglo-Saxon; akin to Old Saxon ertha, Old Flemmish irthe, Dutch aarde, Old High German erda, German erde, Icelandic, Swedish & Danish jord, Gothic a[=i]rpa, Old High German ero, Greek, adv., to earth, and perhaps to English ear to plow.]. Webster
    Read also this.

    The influence could have well worked in the opposite direction.

    Jana
     

    jorge_val_ribera

    Senior Member
    Español
    Elias, I can't believe you didn't mention that in Spanish there is a lot of words of Arabic origin! Oh, the disappointment...:D

    Hehe, just kidding. Anyway, I want to show you all a few words which (supposedly) have Arabic origin and are used often. I say supposedly because, as I don't know Arabic, I can't be sure:

    aceite
    aceituna
    almohada
    alcuza
    acelga
    aldea
    acicalar
    achacar
    alfalfa
    alquiler
    alquimia
    alquitrán
    aduana
    adobe
    alfil
    ámbar
    amén
    alfombra
    ajedrez
    alacrán
    álgebra

    etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc, etc........

    (I found these words in this page: http://www.verdeislam.com/vi_03/VI_307.htm . But please notice that most words are very rare and a whole lot I hadn't ever heard of. But there is also a lot, like the ones I wrote, which are used in daily life)

    EDIT: You were speaking about redundance with "Alkohol"... Well, in Spanish you can say this:

    Le echamos algo de agua al alcohol. :p

     

    Swettenham

    Senior Member
    U.S.
    Outsider said:
    Another word: checkmate! :D
    Aha! I'd forgotten that one! Doesn't it come from a phrase meaning "The king is dead?" I think that's what I heard somewhere....

    Speaking of games, hazard comes from the Arabic for "die," as in the singular of "dice." What a beautiful etymology!
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Swettenham said:
    Aha! I'd forgotten that one! Doesn't it come from a phrase meaning "The king is dead?" I think that's what I heard somewhere....

    Speaking of games, hazard comes from the Arabic for "die," as in the singular of "dice." What a beautiful etymology!
    Actually, the German pronunciation of the word "checkmate" comes much closer to the original Arabic pronunciation:

    Schachmatt --> shaah maat {شاه مات}

    I'd translate it as follows:
    شاه = shaah = king
    مات = maat = has died

    So the translation would maybe be "King has died". ;)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Whodunit said:
    Actually, the German pronunciation of the word "checkmate" comes much closer to the original Arabic pronunciation:

    Schachmatt --> shaah maat {شاه مات}

    I'd translate it as follows:
    شاه = shaah = king
    مات = maat = has died

    So the translation would maybe be "King has died". ;)
    Actually, it's الشيخ مات (ash-sheikh maat)
    [the sheik, the ruler, the "old man" has died]

    Otherwise, the "ck" in English and the "ch" in German don't make sense. :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    jorge_val_ribera said:
    Elias, I can't believe you didn't mention that in Spanish there is a lot of words of Arabic origin! Oh, the disappointment...:D

    Hehe, just kidding. Anyway, I want to show you all a few words which (supposedly) have Arabic origin and are used often. I say supposedly because, as I don't know Arabic, I can't be sure:

    aceite
    aceituna
    almohada
    alcuza
    acelga
    aldea
    acicalar
    achacar
    alfalfa
    alquiler
    alquimia
    alquitrán
    aduana
    adobe
    alfil
    ámbar
    amén
    alfombra
    ajedrez
    alacrán
    álgebra

    etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc, etc........

    (I found these words in this page: http://www.verdeislam.com/vi_03/VI_307.htm . But please notice that most words are very rare and a whole lot I hadn't ever heard of. But there is also a lot, like the ones I wrote, which are used in daily life)

    EDIT: You were speaking about redundance with "Alkohol"... Well, in Spanish you can say this:

    Le echamos algo de agua al alcohol. :p
    Of course! How could I have been so remiss? :)

    I actually wrote a paper two years ago about the influences of Arabic on Spanish - a fascinating topic.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Swettenham said:
    Aha! I'd forgotten that one! Doesn't it come from a phrase meaning "The king is dead?" I think that's what I heard somewhere....

    Speaking of games, hazard comes from the Arabic for "die," as in the singular of "dice." What a beautiful etymology!
    Is that right? :) I had no idea...

    What does a die have to do with a hazard, though? :)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top