Waterwheel: noria


Senior Member
Italian (North)
I’m learning Spanish and Arabic. My Spanish teacher told me that the Spanish word “noria” (Waterwheel but also a round kind of roller-coaster) is of Arabic origin.
Is the word still used nowadays?
How would you write it? Google translate proposes نوريا but I don’t really trust it. Wikipedia suggests ناعورة.
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  • I think I know the word ناعورة which is the origin of Noria. But the name varies according to the country and the area. I'm not sure but for Arabic speaking areas in Morocco it is called ساقية (sāqiya/sāgiya). I know Berber speaking areas use other words but I don't know them. I don't know where ناعورة is used though. To my knowledge Egyptians as well use ساقية.
    It was used in Tunisian in the days of manual/animal irrigation. It has fallen into disuse with the advent of electrical pumps.
    A famous Tunisian song celebrates البير والصفصاف والناعورة
    Some people use the word ناعورة for the electric fan.
    We also have an idiom راسي يدور كي الناعورة my head is spinning like a noria
    I looked on Internet and there is an old Moroccan film called الناعورة so I'm pretty sure the word was used as @djara rightfully said, it fell into disuse given it has been replaced by electric pumps.
    Thanks to all of you. I visited years ago the Syrian town of Hama, well known for her waterwheels, it was before I started learning Arabic and now I found on Wikipedia a page dedicated to the

    نواعير حماة​

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    نَاعُورَةin Arabic might be a borrowing from the Syriac Aramaic word for the waterwheel ('the roarer'), derived from the verb (ܢܥܪ na'r, 'to roar'). An-na'ura in Andalusi Arabic would easily evolve into (an)nora, first attested in the 13th century, from which noria. The -i- is believed to be added due to influence from other related words like acenia and acequia, which I comment below. Portuguese retains nora, with no -i-, as the standard form. Old Catalan had nora too, and nafora.

    I'm not sure but for Arabic speaking areas in Morocco it is called ساقية (sāqiya/sāgiya)
    In Iberia, the word saaqiya is used for an irrigation canal: acequia (Spanish), séquia (Catalan), acéquia (Portuguese), etc.

    Interestingly, while Spanish aceña can be a synonym for acequia, Catalan sénia or sínia is the word for a noria. Both words come the Arabic سَانِيَة.