List of English words of Arabic origin (K-M)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

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.

To qualify for this list, a word must be reported in etymology dictionaries as having descended from Arabic. A handful of dictionaries has been used as the source for the list.[1] Words associated with the Islamic religion are omitted; for Islamic words, see Glossary of Islam. Rare and archaic words are also omitted. A bigger listing including many words very rarely seen in English is available at Wiktionary dictionary.

Loanwords listed in alphabetical order[edit]


Kermes (insect genus), kermes (dye), kermes oak (tree), kermesite (mineral) 
قرمز qirmiz, dye from kermes-type scale insects including (but not limited to) today's Kermes insects. The bodies of several scale insect species produce a red dye that in medieval times was commercially valuable for dyeing textiles. Several medieval Arabic dictionaries say al-qirmiz is an "Armenian red dye",[2] which means dye from the Armenian cochineal insects of today's English, which are distinct from the Kermes insects. The word was in use in Arabic for centuries before it started to be used in the West, and was adopted in the West in the 13th century with the same meaning as the Arabic.[3][4] In the West in the later 16th century the meaning began to be narrowed to today's Kermes species. [1]
قات qāt, the plant Catha edulis and the stimulant obtained from it. Khat was borrowed directly from Arabic qāt in the mid 19th century. The technical botany name Catha was borrowed from the same Arabic in the mid 18th century (botanist was Peter Forskal). The technical chemistry names cathine and cathinone are 20th century from Catha. [2]
kohl (cosmetics) 
كحل kohl, finely powdered galena, stibnite, and similar sooty-colored powder used for eye-shadow, eye-liner, and mascara. The word with that meaning was in many travellers' reports in English, from travellers in Arabic lands, for centuries before it was adopted natively in English.[5] Crossref alcohol which was transferred from the same Arabic word at an earlier time by a different pathway. [3]


لكّ lakk, lac. The Arabic came from the Sanskrit lākh = "lac", a particular kind of resin, native in India, used to make a varnish and also used as a red colorant. The medieval Arabs imported lac from India. The word entered Latin from Arabic in the late 12th century as lacca | laca, and is found late medievally in all of the Western Romance languages.[6] [4]. Two lesser-seen varnishing resins with Arabic word-descent are sandarac[7] and elemi.[8] [5]
lazurite (mineral) 
See azure. [6]
ليمون līmūn, lemon. The cultivation of lemons, limes, and bitter oranges was introduced to the Mediterranean region by the Arabs in the mid-medieval era. The ancient Greeks & Romans knew the citron, but not the lemon, lime, or orange.[9] Ibn al-'Awwam in the late 12th century distinguished ten kinds of citrus fruits grown in Andalusia and spelled the lemon as اللامون al-lāmūn. Abdallatif al-Baghdadi (died 1231) distinguished almost as many different citrus fruits in Egypt and spelled the lemon as الليمون al-līmūn.[10] The Arabic word came from Persian.[11] The lemon tree's native origin appears to be in India.[9] [7]
lime (fruit)
ليم līm, meaning sometimes any citrus fruit,[10] sometimes lemon and lime fruit, and sometimes a lime fruit.[12] In Arabic līm was a back-formation from līmūn; see lemon. Medieval writers who used līm with the meaning of a lime fruit include Al-Qalqashandi (died 1414), Ibn Batuta (died 1369), and Ibn Khaldoun (died 1406).[12][13] In Spanish and Italian today lima means lime fruit. In bygone centuries in Spanish and Italian lima meant also lime-lemon varieties distinct from today's lime. Pedro de Alcala's Spanish-Arabic dictionary year 1505 translated the Spanish lima as Arabic lim.[13] Today in English "lime" has become a color-name as well as a fruit. The color-name originated by reference to the fruit. It can be noted in passing that all the following English color-names are descended from Arabic words (not necessarily Arabic color-words): apricot (color), aubergine (color), azure (color), coffee (color), crimson (color), carmine (color), henna (color), lemon (color), lime (color), orange (color), saffron (color), tangerine (color). [8]
لوف lūf,[14] luffa. Entered European botany nomenclature from Egypt in 1638.[14] The luffa is a tropical plant which was under cultivation with irrigation in Egypt at the time. The name has been in English botany books since the mid 18th century as Luffa. In the later 19th century it re-entered English in non-botanical discourse as "Loofah" referring to the luffa scrubbing sponge.[15] [9]
العود al-ʿaūd, the oud. Al-ʿaūd was one of the chief musical instruments of the Arabs throughout the medieval era.[16] The European lute word, a word now in all European languages, has its earliest records in the mid 13th century in Catalan and Spanish. The early Catalan form was laut. Spanish has alod in 1254, alaut in about 1330, laud in 1343.[17] "The Portuguese form pt:Alaúde clearly shows the Arabic origin."[18] Medievally the ʿaūd of the Arabs and the lute of the Latins were very nearly the same instrument and differed mainly in the musicians' playing style. The medieval Latins borrowed the instrument from the Arabs, as well as the name.[19] The earliest unambiguous record in English is in the 2nd half of the 14th century (Middle English Dictionary). [10]


مقرمة miqrama, an embroidered cloth covering[2] (formally related to qaram = "to nibble persistently"). The path to English is said to be: Arabic -> Turkish -> Italian -> French -> English. 19th-century English. [11]
مخازن makhāzin, storehouses (from Arabic root khazan, to store). Used in Latin with that meaning in 1228 in Marseille, which is the earliest known record in a Western language.[20] Still used that way today in Arabic, French, Italian, Catalan, and Russian. Sometimes used that way in English in the 16th to 18th centuries, but more commonly in English a magazine was an arsenal, a gunpowder store, and later a receptacle for storing bullets. A magazine in the publishing sense of the word started out in English in the 17th century meaning a store of information about military or navigation subjects.[21] [12]
مرقشيثا marqashīthā, iron sulfide. Occurs in Arabic in a 9th-century minerals book,[22] and was used by Al-Razi (died c. 930),[23] and Ibn Sina (died 1037)[22] and Al-Biruni (died 1048),[24] among others. The earliest in a Western language seems to be in an Arabic-to-Latin translation by Gerard of Cremona in the later 12th century.[17] In modern English, marcasite is defined scientifically as orthorhombic iron sulfide, but marcasite jewelry is jewelry made from isometric iron sulfide.[25] [13]
مسحقونيا masḥaqūniyā | مسحوقونيا masḥūqūniyā, a glazing material applied in the manufacture of pottery.[26] In today's English massicot is defined as orthorhombic lead monoxide (PbO). The Western word's history starts with late medieval Latin massacumia, which was a lead-based ceramics glazing material in Italy in the late 13th century, and came from Arabic masḥaqūniyā (mas-ha-qun-iya) meaning approximately the same.[26] Historically, in the late medieval and early modern West, the most common context of use of lead monoxide (including massicot) was in the manufacture of lead-based ceramics glazes, and, later, lead glass. [14]
mattress, matelasse 
مطرح matrah, a large cushion or rug for lying on. In Arabic the sense evolved out of the sense "something thrown down" from Arabic root tarah = "to throw". Classical Latin matta = "mat" is no relation. The Arabic word entered Italian and Latin in the 13th century and spread into French and English in the 14th century. The mattress word at that time usually meant a padded under-blanket, "a quilt to lie upon".[27] [15], [16]
مكة makkah, An epicentre of a subculture, ethnicity, common interests/demographic or certain requirement group to gather at, that is established either formally or informally
mohair, moiré 
المخيّر al-mokhayyar, high-quality cloth made from fine goat hair (from Arabic root khayar = "choosing, preferring"). Mohair from the hair of Angora goats in Ankara province in Turkey in the early 16th century was the original cloth named mohair in the West, although earlier mohair-type cloth had been imported from the Middle East under the name camlet.[28] Earliest record in the West is 1542 Italian.[17] Early English was spelled "mocayare", starting 1570. The mutation in English to "mohaire" is first seen in 1619.[29] [17]. Moiré means a shimmering visual effect from an interweaved or grating structure. It started out in French as a mutation of mohair. [18]
monsoon, typhoon 
These words referred to wind and rain events off the coasts of India and China in their earliest use in Western languages and are seen first in Portuguese in the early 16th century. Arabic sea-merchants were active in the East Indies long before the Portuguese arrived – see e.g. Islam in the Philippines and camphor and benzoin in this list. موسم mawsim, season, used in Arabic for anything that comes round once a year (such as festive season) and used by Arab sailors in the East Indies for the seasonal sailing winds.[30] طوفان tūfān, a big rainstorm, a deluge, and used in the Koran for Noah's Flood.[31] More about the early history of the two words among European sailors in the East Indies is in A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive, by Yule and Burnell (year 1903). [19] [20]
mufti (clothing style) 
مفتي muftī , mufti (an expert in Islamic law). The phrase 'mufti day' is sometimes used instead of 'own clothes day' in some English speaking schools to mean a day when students and teachers can wear casual clothes or clothes in their own style rather than the institution's uniform or semi-uniform clothes. The term originated in the British Army in the early 19th century. It seems the term originated just because the clothing style of a mufti was much different from the style of the army's uniform clothing at the time. [21]
موميا mūmiyā, a bituminous substance used in medicine and in embalming, and secondarily sometimes it meant a corpse embalmed with the substance. The later-medieval Western languages borrowed the Arabic word in those senses.[32] Post-medievally in the West the sense was extended to a corpse preserved by desiccation (drying out).[33] [22]
موصلي mūsilī, fine lightweight fabric made in Mosul in Mesopotamia, usually cotton, sometimes linen. The word entered the West with that meaning in the 16th and early 17th century. The fabric was imported from Aleppo by Italians who called it mussola and mussolina. The suffix -ina was an Italian addition. In Italian -ina is a diminutive (communicates lightweight). The earliest record in English is muslina in a traveller's report from Aleppo in 1609.[34] [23]

Words which may or may not be of Arabic origin[edit]

It is well documented that the common lilac tree was originally brought to Western Europe directly from Istanbul in the later 16th century. One of the earliest records of the word in the West is from the botanist Carolus Clusius who in 1576 in Latin said the "Lilac" tree came from the Turks.[35] The earliest known record in any vernacular Western language is 1596 in English.[36] Earliest French is 1605.[17] The early Latin, English and French had the exclusive meaning of the common lilac tree, Syringa vulgaris. The tree's native place of origin was the Balkans, where it blooms in the wild with blueish-colored flowers. There is reason to think the word was probably descended from a Persian word for blueish color. The Persian is not attested as a tree or a flower; it is attested as a color. A route of intermediation involving Arabic is a possibility.[37] [24]
Records begin in late medieval French (1376). All the early records involve "the very specific phrase danse macabre, which denoted a dance in which a figure representing death enticed people to dance with him until they dropped down dead."[38] A non-Arabic candidate for the origin of the French exists but has semantic and phonetic weaknesses.[17][23] The meaning can be fitted to the Arabic مقابر maqābir = "graves" (plural of maqbara). Medieval Portuguese almocavar = "cemetery" is certainly from Arabic al-maqābir = "the graves".[13][39] But there is no known historical context for a transfer of the Arabic (via any pathway) into the French danse macabre. That is a major weakness. [25]
Mafia comes from Sicilian mafiusu. Further etymology uncertain and disputed. Some propose an Arabic root for mafiusu; others say the word history prior to 19th century is unknown. [26]
mask, masquerade, mascara, masque 
Late medieval Italian maschera = "mask" is the source for the French, English and Spanish set of words.[40] The source for the Italian (first known record circa 1350) is highly uncertain. One possibility is the Latin precedent masca = "witch".[17] One other possibility is the Arabic precedent مسخرة maskhara = "buffoon, jester".[13] In the context where mask was used, "the sense of entertainment is the usual one in old authors";[18] see Carnival of Venice, Masquerade Ball, Mascherata. [27]
The English comes from French. The French is first recorded in 1779 as a verb masser = "to massage" which then produced the noun massage starting in 1808. The origin of the French has not been explained. Most of the early records in French are found in accounts of travels in the Middle East.[17] The practice of massage was common in the Middle East for centuries before it became common in the West in the mid-to-late 19th century; see Turkish bath. Consequently, there has been a proposal that the French word be from Arabic مسّ mass = "to touch". But the Arabic word for massage was a different word, namely tamsīd | dallak | tadlīk. The fact that the early records in French did not use an Arabic word for massage seems to preclude the hypothesis that the word they did use was borrowed from Arabic. A different hypothesis is the Portuguese amassar = "to knead" and/or Spanish amasar | masar = "to knead",[41] which are descended from classical Latin massa meaning "mass", "lump of material" and "kneaded dough", and are longstanding commonplace words in Spanish and Portuguese for kneading of bread dough. [28]
Mizzen (or mizen) is a type of sail or position of a sail mast on a ship. English is traceable to early-14th-century Italian mezzana.[17] Most dictionaries say the Italian word was a derivation from the classical Latin word medianus = "median", even though the mizzen was positioned to the rear of the ship. The alternative is: "It is possible that the Italian word, taken as meaning "middle", is really adopted from Arabic ميزان mīzān = "balance". "The mizen is, even now, a sail that 'balances,' and the reef in a mizen is still called the 'balance'-reef." "[42] The carrack sailing ship mentioned earlier, in its early-15th-century form at least, had a mizzen. [29]
The word's origin in 13th-century France is without an explanation in terms of French or Latin. Some dictionaries mention an Arabic hypothesis. [30]


  1. ^ The dictionaries used to compile the list are 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. ^ a b 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 and/or One of the most esteemed of the dictionaries 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. 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. At, in addition to searchable copies of medieval Arabic dictionaries, there are searchable copies of a large number of medieval Arabic texts on various subjects.
  3. ^ A number of related but distinct scale-insect species yield comparable but distinct red dyes. Kermes in English today refers to one of these, but the medieval Arabic name qirmiz usually referred to a different one of these -- the one now called in English "Armenian cochineal", aka "Old World cochineal" obtained from insects of the genus Porphyrophora (different from the genus Kermes). Some examples of medieval Arabic writers who mention qirmiz and whose works are online in Arabic in text-searchable format at Ibn Duraid (died 933), Ibn Abd Rabbih (died 940), Al-Istakhri (died 957). Living in southern Spain, Ibn Sida (died 1066) wrote: "Qirmiz is Armenian red dye. The dye is said to come from juice of worms in the Iranian and Armenian part of the world. The word is Arabicized Persian." – القرمز in Ibn Sida's Arabic Dictionary @ The word starts in the 13th century in the Western languages. In the 16th century in a book about the dyeing industry written in Italian in 1548 by Giovanventura Rosetti, the name for kermes was grana while the name for Old World cochineal was cremesi – ref: Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color, by Elena Phipps, year 2010, page 31 and footnote 27 on page 47. More history in "The Insect Dyes of Western and West-Central Asia", by R.A. Donkin, year 1977, 33 pages.
  4. ^ In the later medieval centuries in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Latin the kermes dye was called grain (or grana | granum). Kermes-type red dyes were also called in late medieval English "cremesyn" | "crimsin", French cramoisi (also medieval French cremesy), Italian chermisi | cremisi, Spanish carmesí. The word-form kermes entered English and French in the 16th century from Spanish quermes and/or from Italian chermes (pronounced kermes) – kermes @ NED,
  5. ^ English traveller in the Middle East year 1615: "They put between the eyelids and the eye a certain black powder with a fine long pencil, made of a mineral called alcohole, which... do better set forth the whiteness of the eye." – ref. Similar travellers' reports in English are in ref: Algeria 1738, ref: Yemen 1794, and ref: Egypt 1877.
  6. ^ A servant of Ibn Badis (died 1062) used لكّ lakk | lukk = "lac" as an ingredient in making red ink – ref (pages 19 and 23), ref (pages 30 and 32). Ibn Sina around year 1025 said lak was a resinous exudation from a plant – ref. Ibn Baklarish in the book Mustaʿīnī dated around year 1100 said lakk could refer to either the resin from a tree or the crimson colorant from the lac scale insect – Dozy, year 1869. Dozy (1869) gives evidence that the Arabs used lac foremostly as a red colorant. Examples of late medieval Latin lacca | laca are in UMich MED (13th- and 14th-century Latin), Du Cange (14th century), and Alphita Medical Dictionary (15th century) (which also has the corrupt form lacta). Today's Italian, Spanish & Portuguese lacca | laca meaning lacquer go back to medieval dates in those languages. Catalan laca dates from 1249 – French lacque dates from about 1400 and French also has lac, lache, and lacca with late medieval dates meaning lac and lacquer – Dictionnaire du Moyen Français. The English lac and lacquer are given 16th-century start dates in English, but English has some 15th-century records in the form lacca in Latin-to-English medical translations – Middle English Dictionary. When the Europeans sailed to India in the 16th century, they met the word lākh spoken by the Indians meaning the lac resin, and they imported the lac resin directly from India to Europe. Since the word was already in Portuguese and the other European languages before they sailed, it is incorrect or disputable to say (as some dictionaries do) that the word lac came to English directly from India (compare American Heritage Dictionary and Random House Dictionary for "lac" at
  7. ^ Europeans got all their sandarac resin from the Arab lands, primarily from Morocco, and the Arabic word سندروس sandarūs is almost certainly the source for the European sandarac resin word. The 11th-century Arabic encyclopedia The Canon of Medicine by Ibn Sina uses the word sandarūs to mean a tree resin – ref: سندروس ... هو صمغ شجرة. A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (year 1914) says: "New Latin sandaracha Arabum represents Arabic sandarus (Dozy, from P. de Alcalá 1505), also sandalus (Freytag, from Golius); but the Arabic word cannot be native Arabic" – ref: NED. Simon of Genoa in Latin in the late 13th century said sandaracha means arsenic sulfide, yellow or red but he added that in Arabic the word means varnishing resin – ref (in Latin). In the vernacular languages in the West the sandarac resin word appears to begin in the early to mid-16th century in Spanish and Italian (see Merrifield year 1849), from which it was borrowed a century later into English (ref: NED). Pedro de Alcala a.k.a. Petri Hispani (1505) said Spanish barnis (varnish) is sandaros in Arabic – ref. Andrés Laguna (died 1559) said Spanish grassa, "no different from juniper resin", is called "sandaraca" in Arabic – ref1, ref2. The Arabic word sandarūs might have come down from ancient Greek sandaracha. The Greek and also the classical and medieval Latin sandaraca meant red arsenic sulfide and red lead and it was employed as a red pigment. Sandarac resin has a light yellow color. Ibn Al-Baitar (died 1248) said sandarūs is a "yellow resin" – ref. But possibly the Arabic sandarūs might have started out referring to some other tree resin with a red color (see e.g.). At the Western resin-word sandarac is derived from the medieval Latin sandaraca (without Arabic intermediation) which is correct with regard to the word's form but not with regard to the semantics because the medieval Latin sandaraca was not a resin.
  8. ^ Two instances in medieval Arabic of اللامي al-lāmī meaning a resin are in Lammens year 1890, page 288. The earliest known record in the West is gumi elemi published in 1488 in Compendium Aromatariorum by Saladinus of Ascoli in southeastern Italy – ref. Another early record is a publication in Rome in Latin in 1517 – ref: These records can be taken to indicate that the transfer to the West was through Italian sea merchants on the Mediterranean. The elemi resin in Arabic may have originally came from the East Indies. One of Lammens' medieval sources said it came "from Yemen or from the Indies". But Yemen was likely just a waystation or transit-point for goods brought across the Indian Ocean at the time. The word was rare in Arabic both medievally and later. In Europe around year 1700 it was said by Nicholas Lemery and others that (1) "true" elemi comes from Ethiopia and Yemen and (2) a different elemi comes from America – ref. Today's elemi comes from a tree native to the Philippines. Thus, "elemi" has referred to different resins over the centuries. In English today a derived chemical name is elemicin.
  9. ^ a b Origin of Cultivated Plants by Alphonse de Candolle (year 1885), pages 178–181 for lemon and lime, pages 183–188 for orange, page 188 for mandarin orange. Further details in "Études sur les noms arabes des végétaux: l'oranger et ses congénères", by J.J. Clément-Mullet in Journal Asiatique sixième série Tome XV, pages 17 to 41, year 1870. Al-Masudi writing in the 940s (AD) said that the orange tree (shajar al-nāranj) had been introduced to Arabic-speaking lands only a few decades previously. He does not mention the lemon, and from other evidence it seems the lemon had not yet arrived in Al-Masudi's time.
  10. ^ a b "Études sur les noms arabes des végétaux: l'oranger et ses congénères", by J.J. Clément-Mullet in Journal Asiatique sixième série Tome XV, pages 17 to 41, year 1870.
  11. ^ In the Persian language in the mid 11th century the writer Nasir Khusraw used the Persian word for lemon, لیمو līmu – ref: Nasir Khusraw, section on Tripoli: in Persian, in English translation, pages 6-7. In Arabic the records for the word lemon are hard to find until the 12th century. A very early instance in Arabic is in a chapter about the geography of Pakistan in the geography book of Al-Istakhri (died about 957; lived in Iran; probably visited Pakistan personally). Al-Istakhri's book says "the people of this land [Balād al-Sind = Pakistan] have a fruit the size of a small apple called al-līmūna, which is bitter, very acidic" (ref). The geography book of Ibn Hawqal (died c. 988) replicates the same statement (ref).
  12. ^ a b Al-Līm = "lime fruit" in Al-Qalqashandi's Subh al-aʿsha on pages 70, 141, 155 and 184 (in Arabic). Also in Ibn Batuta's Voyages, on pages 126 and 128 (in Arabic and French). Also Ibn Khaldoun's Prolegomena, aka مقدمة Muqaddima, on page 259 (in Arabic).
  13. ^ a b c d Glossaire des mots espagnols et portugais dérivés de l'arabe by R. Dozy & W.H. Engelmann. 430 pages. Published in 1869.
  14. ^ a b "Luffa" in Etymologisches Wörterbuch der botanischen Pflanzennamen, by Helmut Genaust year 1996. The first known occurrence of the plantname "Luffa" in a Western language is in the botanist Johann Veslingius, who visited Egypt in 1628 and afterwards published drawings and a description of the Luffa aegyptiaca plant. Veslingius wrote that the plant was in cultivation around Cairo, was called "Luff | Luffa" in Arabic, and was used both as an edible cucumber and as a scrubber. Veslingius called it "Luffa Arabum" and "Egyptian Cucumber" – De Plantis Aegyptiis, by Johann Veslingius, year 1638 page 48 (in Latin). In 1706 the botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort introduced the formal botany genus name "Luffa". He referred to Veslingius's earlier description and reiterated that "Luffa Arabum" is a plant from Egypt in the cucumber family – Tournefort year 1706 in French. The first known use of "Luffa" in English is by a botanist who cites Tournefort, Philip Miller year 1768. In 1761 the botanist Peter Forsskål visited Egypt and noted that the luffa plant was called لوف lūf in Arabic – Flora Aegyptiaco-Arabica, by Peter Forskal, year 1775, page LXXV (in Latin). In Arabic the name lūf has also designated some other plants unrelated to the luffa. In today's Arabic the luffa plant is more usually called līf, which associates with the very common Arabic word līf = "fiber" and alludes to the use of the luffa as a scrubber and not as a vegetable.
  15. ^ English "loofah" in NED.
  16. ^ A History of Arabian Music to the 13th Century, by Henry George Farmer, year 1929, 230 pages. See ʿūd in the book's Page Index (the book's merit is as a collection into English of many short extracts from different medieval Arabic documents). Most medieval Arabic music-making involved human singing, and al-ʿaūd was usually a preferred supporting instrument.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h More details at Etymologie in French language. Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales (CNRTL) is a division of the French National Centre for Scientific Research.
  18. ^ a b Reported in An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, by Walter W. Skeat, year 1888. Downloadable.
  19. ^ "A Brief History of the Lute", Part One, by David van Edwards. Similarly, "A Brief Introduction to the Lute", by Christopher Goodwin of The Lute Society (UK).
  20. ^ Magazeni = "magazine, i.e. storehouse" has several records in the 13th century in Italy in Latin, including 1234 in Venice – Raja Tazi 1998. Raja Tazi notes that the seaport of Venice at that time was in regular trading with the Arabic seaports of Ceuta, Béjaïa, Tunis, Oran, etc. The same was true of the seaport of Marseille, where the first record of magazenum (1228) occurs in a context of commerce by Marseille citizens in North African seaports – Records in Catalan begin 1255 – magatzem @ Regarding the Catalan magatzem = "magazine", its 'tz' is like the way that 'zz' is pronounced in the Italian magazzino, like how English "pizza" is pronounced "peetza". The spelling magazzino in Italian is on record from the first half of the 14th century (seaport of Pisa year 1318 has magazenoTLIO). In Sicily the word is found in the seaport of Palermo in 1287 as machasseno and in seaport of Messina in 1284 as mahazenis – ref: Arabismi Medievali di Sicilia by Girolamo Caracausi, year 1983 on page 272 and page 273. Those and other early evidences imply that the word magazine came to the seaports of Italy and Provence and Catalonia directly from North Africa, and did not come from Spain and Portugal, did not come from the Spanish word almacen | almazen = "magazine". This point has been made in Origin and spread of Oriental words in European languages, by Arnald Steiger, year 1963.
  21. ^ "Magazine" in NED (year 1908).
  22. ^ a b Ibn Sina's encyclopedia is online in Arabic. It has an entry for مارقشيتا mārqashītā. It was noted by Martin Levey, year 1962, footnote 174 that part of what Ibn Sina says about mārqashītā closely echoes what's said about marqashīthā in the so-called "Aristotle's lapidary" (also called "The Stone Book of Aristotle"), a work about minerals dated 9th century in Arabic, and well-known to Arabic alchemists. The "Aristotle's lapidary", which is downloadable in Arabic at, has overall many clear influences from Syriac. Modern dictionaries of the historical Syriac language, citing early medieval Syriac sources, have marq(a)shita (also maqashitha) meaning iron sulfides, marcasite and pyrite – ref , ref , ref , ref. The Arabic word marqashita does not look native in Arabic. The word's early records in Syriac can be taken as good evidence that the word entered Arabic through Syriac. Many of the stone names in the so-called "lapidary of Aristotle" are considered to be of Iranian origin and that can be true of marqashita too – Mineralogy & Crystallography: On the History of these Sciences through 1919 (pages 30–31).
  23. ^ a b Dictionnaire Étymologique Des Mots Français D'Origine Orientale, by L. Marcel Devic, year 1876.
  24. ^ The 11th century Book of Precious Stones by Al-Biruni is online in Arabic at مكتبة-المصطفى.com.
  25. ^ Colcothar, Tutty, and Zarnich are three obsolete English names originating in medieval Arabic alchemy. They have been replaced by the modern names iron oxide, zinc oxide, and arsenic sulfide, respectively. Marcasite meaning iron sulfide has survived in modern science because the word was redefined in the mid-19th century to designate a certain narrow type of iron sulfide. The older, broader meaning of marcasite dates from late medieval centuries in English (examples). Today the most common type of iron sulfide is usually called by the name pyrite. But jewelry made from pyrite is still called "marcasite jewelry", a term that got established in English in the 18th century.
  26. ^ a b Different dictionaries report different origins for "massicot", yet they report the word to be from medieval Arabic one way or another. The origin reported here is the one in massicot @ (also massicot @ Random House and marzacotto @ In support for this etymology, Du Cange's Glossary of Medieval Latin has a quote from a book by Matthaeus Silvaticus dated 1317 that describes "massacuma" as a ceramics glaze having lead as the foremost ingredient ref, ref. Elsewhere in the same book Matthaeus Silvaticus spells it massacumia and masacumia, and says massacumia is called also in Latin massacocto, where "cocto" is Latin for "baked" – ref. In Simon of Genoa's Latin dictionary dated 1292, massacumia is described as a glaze (without any mention of lead) and declared to be also known as masacocto or massaroto (where "roto" is Latin for "rotary") – ref, ref. Matthaeus Silvaticus and Simon of Genoa lived in Italy. Assuming the etymology is correct, modifying the Latin massacumia to the Latin massacocto (Italian mazzacotto, year 1303, Italian cotto = "baked") is a case of a multi-syllabic foreign word getting modified through a 'striving after meaning', as seen as well in the Arabic loanwords Admiral, Algorithm, Mohair, Popinjay, and Safflower, and probably Typhoon. Massacunye with an 'n', and also spelled massacune, is on record in the English language in the early 15th century described as "vitrinynge" (vitrifying material) for glazing earthenware – Middle English Dictionary. The modern English name massicot came from the French massicot which came from the Italian mazzacotto (1303), Italian maççacocti (1312), Italian marzacotto (1355). The Italian word in the 14th century was a glaze for earthenware, not necessarily lead-based – TLIO (in Italian). In Arabic Ibn al-Baitar (died 1248) quotes Al-Razi (died circa 930) saying مسحقونيا masḥaqūniyā is a glaze for earthenware jars – Ibn al-Baitar's Book of Simple Medicaments. The Arabic writer Al-Biruni (died 1048) wrote, in a context where he had been talking about molten glass: "The dross or scum (رغوة) of glass is called مسحوقونيا masḥūqūniyā. This dross is flat, white and brittle.... It is also called "froth of glassmaking".... Suhar Bakht says that it is the coating for the Egyptian earthenware." – Al-Biruni's Book of Stones, section on glass in Arabic (page 131) and in English translation. Richardson's Arabic Dictionary, year 1852, translated Arabic مسحوقونيا masḥūqūniyā as English "dross of glass" – ref. The first piece of the word could come from the Arabic and Semitic root مسح masaḥ, to wipe, to polish. (Arabic masaḥ can also mean to cover a surface with a coating or veneer – masah @ The quniya part has no native root in Arabic. The quniya part looks to be from Greek konia = "stucco; dust or powder used for plastering", arriving in Arabic through the intermediation of Syriac qūnīā meaning more or less the same as the Greek. The combined word looks to be a Syriac construction originally, as noted by Federico Corriente, 2008, 1985.
  27. ^ In standard Arabic today matrah means "location"; it does not mean mattress or rug or suchlike. But in medieval Arabic there is much evidence that, in addition to meaning "location", it had a meaning of a rug or padded fabric for lying on. A handful of medieval Arabic examples are given in Dozy, year 1869 including from the writers Al-Tha'alabi (died 1038), Ibn Hayyan (died 1075), and Al-Qazwini (died 1283). Another example is Arabic matrah = Latin tapet (English "rug") in a late-13th-century Arabic-Latin dictionary – ref. A reason for confidence that the medieval Western mattress word came from Arabic is that the word was sometimes spelled with al- prefixed in the West. A handful of examples of that are given in Dozy's book and one additional example is the year 1291 Latin almatracium @ DuCange. Dozy states that the strongly aspirated 'h' in Arabic matrah was replaced by the sound /s/ in Italian materasso. The letter 'c' in the Latin almatracium | mataracium was pronounced /s/, but medieval Latin also had almatracum | materacum where the 'c' was pronounced as sound /k/. The mattress word in the late medieval West usually meant a somewhat padded underblanket, not a deep stuffed mattress, not a "featherbed" – sets of medieval examples are online at MED (in English), DMF (in French), TLIO (in Italian), and Gual Camarena (Catalan and Spanish). In the early records in the West in some cases the padding material was cotton fluff, which in those days was an import from Arabic lands and was a preferred material for padding fabrics. Example: year 1232 Italian-Latin materacum bombesi where bombesi = "cotton fluff". Example: year 1298 Italian una materazza... piene di bambagia = "a mattress filled with cotton lint". The Arabs slept on padded blankets which were rolled up and put away during the day, and spread out on the floor at bedtime; "they did not have beds properly speaking in the fashion of us French" – Devic year 1876; "everyone passing through the Middle East can understand how a word for a throw can lead to a word for a bed" – Lammens year 1890.
  28. ^ House Owners and House Property in Seventeenth-Century Ankara and Kayseri, by Suraiya Faroqhi, year 1987, page 25. Histoire du commerce du Levant au moyen-âge, by W. Heyd, year 1886, Volume 2, pages 703-705. "Rediscovering Camlet: Traditional mohair cloth weaving in Southeastern Turkey", by Charlotte Jirousek, in Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings year 2008, pages 1-3.
  29. ^ "Mohair" in NED (year 1908).
  30. ^ In India, from October to April the winds blow from the northeast, while from April to October they blow approximately from the southwest (with heavy rains arriving in June); see monsoon of India. The first governor of Portuguese India, Afonso de Albuquerque (died 1515), often mentions the monsoon winds in his letters. He usually spells it mouçam. E.g. in a letter on 8 November 1514 he writes of trade goods which were "am de partyr nesta mouçam d abryll" = "to depart at this April's monsoon" – ref. The Portuguese ç is pronounced s. Mouçam is phonetically close to the Arabic mawsim. Diogo do Couto lived in Portuguese India in the 1560s, and consistently spelled it moução (ref: Yule & Burnell), which is close to the Arabic form as well -- the letter ã of Portuguese is 'a' with nasalization and is etymologically an 'an'. Portuguese usually replaces 'an' with ã. From the Portuguese word, an Italian traveler in India in the 1560s, Cesare Federici, writing in Italian, spelled it moson (ref: Yule & Burnell). But in Portuguese India during the 16th century the dominant wordform became monção, from causes not understood. English sailors in the late 16th century in India adopted it with spelling monson, from monção. In year 1442, Persian historian and ambassador Abd al-Razzaq Samarqandi sailed to India from the Persian Gulf, starting at the port of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. He sailed back home again in 1444. He wrote in Persian a 45-page narrative of his trip. The following is a quote from a published English translation, plus three of his Persian words have been put in brackets together with alternative translation: "The favorable time for departing by sea [to India from the Persian Gulf]... is the beginning or middle of the monsoon [= موسم mawsim = sailing season]... The end of the monsoon [= آخر موسم ākher mawsim = last part of the sailing season] is the season [= زمان zamān = time] when tempests [= طوفان tūfān = violent sea-storm] and attacks from pirates are to be dreaded.... The time for navigation having passed, every one who would put to sea at this season was alone responsible for his death, since he voluntarily placed himself in peril." – ref: Abd al-Razzaq Samarqandi in Persian (on page 344) and in English translation. An admiral in the Turkish navy, Seydi Ali Reis, traveled with Arabs on the Indian Ocean in the mid 1550s. He started out from the Iraqi port of Basra. Writing in Turkish in 1556, he says that when he was in Basra he had to wait for almost half a year for the arrival of what he called the mowsim = "sailing season" – ref, alt link. A century later, French traveller Jean de Thévenot set sail to India from Basra. Thévenot had lived in the Middle East for about five years previously and could speak Arabic. He wrote: "I set out from Balsora [i.e. Basra] on the sixth of November 1665.... The proper season for sailing on the Indian Sea is called mousson or monson by corruption from [Arabic] moussem. The season wherein there is a constant Trade Wind upon that Sea begins commonly at the end of October and lasts to the end of April." – ref: in French, in English translation. Arabic mawsim is from Arabic root wasem = "to mark" and Arabic grammar prefix m-. It is not hard to find mawsim in medieval Arabic in the sense of "season, time of year". E.g. botanist Ibn al-Baitar (died 1248) has المطر الموسمي al-matar al-mawsemī = "seasonal rain" (in a climate having rainy and rainless seasons) and he also has الموسم بمكة al-mawsem be-meka = "pilgrimage season" – ref. More historical details in Yule & Burnett, NED, Dozy,
  31. ^ The typhoon storm was written tufão in 1540 in Portuguese, touffon in 1588 in English, and tuffon in 1610 in English – all very close to the Arabic tūfān. The Koran uses this word for The Deluge in Sura29:Verse14 and the medieval Arabic dictionaries define tūfān also as "overwhelming rain" ( The English word-form was later affected by the ancient Greek mythological demon Typhon – see typhon @ It was perhaps also affected by a Chinese word tai feng. "Sometimes [typhoon is] claimed as a Chinese word meaning 'a great wind' [tai feng]... but this seems to be a late mystification." – Yule & Burnell. Other early records for the typhoon word in English include the following: tufan (1614), tuffon (1615), tufon (1625), tuffon (1626), tuffon (1665), tuffin (1674), tuffoon (1699), tuffoon (1721), tuffoon (1727), tuffoon (1745), tay-fun (1771), tiffoon (1773), tuffoon (1780), typhawn (1793), tuffoon (1802), ty-foong (1806), touffan (1811), typhoon (1819), toofan (1826), toofaun (1826), tiffoon (1831), typhoon (1832), typhoon (1840), tyfoon (1848), tufan (1850), typhoon (1851) – ref: NED; also Yule & Burnell. The first known record of the word-form "typhoon" in English is in 1819 in the classically educated poet Percy Bysshe Shelley who never went to the Indies or China. Turkish navy admiral Sidi Ali Reis (died 1563) travelled on Arab ships on the Indian Ocean in the 1550s and wrote in Turkish: "We left the port of Guador [in today's Pakistan] and again steered for Yemen. We had been at sea for several days... when suddenly from the west arose a great storm known as fil tofani [where fil = "elephant" in Arabic and Turkish].... As compared to these awful tempests, the foul weather in the Mediterranean and Black Sea is mere child's play and their towering billows are as drops of water compared to those of the Indian Sea." – ref.
  32. ^ The Canon of Medicine of Ibn Sina (died 1037) has Arabic mūmiyā | mūmiyāyī = "medicinal bitumen". This is written in Latin as mumia in Gerard of Cremona's late 12th century translation of Ibn Sina's book. Among the first records in Latin is mumia = "medicinal bitumen" in the Arabic-to-Latin medical translator Constantinus Africanus (died c. 1087) (ref). Bitumen here means viscous tar found naturally in the ground with some sand or other minerals naturally mixed in to some degree. In descent from the medieval Latin, the following is an example of the word in an English medical book in 1475: "Make a plastir of bole and sandragon and mummie and sumac and of gum arabike" – MED. Another, this dated 1425, spelling modernised: "Another emplaister [plaster dressing] to the same, Take mummie, glue..bole armoniak, aloes, and half an ounce mastik" – MED. In later-medieval Europe this medicinal mummie was an import from the Eastern Mediterranean with much of it coming ultimately from Iran and Yemen – Histoire du Commerce du Levant au Moyen-âge, by W. Heyd, year 1886, Volume 2 pages 635-636. Studies on the embalming methods used by the ancient Egyptians to embalm and preserve the famous Egyptian mummies show: (1) the methods used were quite variable and (2) bituminous material was used in many cases and (3) wood tar or cedar oil was used in other cases and contributed to preserving the corpse in a black or near-black color in the long term – A History of Egyptian Mummies, by J.T. Pettigrew, year 1834, Chapter VI: On Embalming, especially pages 70-71. From the corpse's bituminous or tarry material and its black color, the term mūmiyā came to be applied to the whole corpse. This transfer of meaning started in Egypt. Abdallatif al-Baghdadi (died 1231) in his description of Egypt says a black bituminous matter taken from ancient embalmed corpses is available for purchase in Egypt under the name mūmiyā, and he says it is purchased to be used medicinally in the same way as the ordinary mūmiyāref. The medicines book of Ibn al-Baitar (died 1248) says that one of the sources of medicinal mūmiyā is the mūmiyā that is taken from old embalmed corpses found in the burial tombs in Egypt – ref. That kind of medicinal mumia, taken from ancient embalmed corpses of Egypt, made its way into medieval Latin medicines books as well – e.g. in Pandectarum Medicinae of Matthaeus Silvaticus, year 1317. Today's Arabic mūmiyāʾ means "mummy".
  33. ^ The post-medieval evolution of Mummy's meaning in English is documented in NED.
  34. ^ Muslin meaning fine lightweight cotton fabric made in Mosul has it earliest record in the West in the Italian Andrea Alpago a.k.a. Andreae Alpagi Bellunensis (died 1522), who lived in Damascus for decades as an attaché of the Venetian consulate. He spelled the fabric name as mussoli in Latin – he is quoted in Yule & Burnell (1903). Another early record is in the German traveller Leonhard Rauwolf, who travelled round the Levant in 1573–1575 and published a 350-page narrative of his visit, which is online in the German 1582 edition (page 93) and English translation 1693 (page 62)DjVu. When talking about muslin in Aleppo, Rauwolf says the stuff is brought to Aleppo from Mosul, it is made from cotton, and the Arabs call it "Mossellini". But Mossellini looks like it's the Italian merchants' wordform, because the Arabic wordform was mūsilī with no 'n' (Dozy 1869, Lammens 1890,, and -ini in Italian is a diminutive. Italian speakers dominated the commerce between Aleppo and the West at that time. William Biddulph, an English traveller in Aleppo writing in 1609, says "muslina" is a type of cloth brought to Aleppo from Mosul, but he says it is made from linen – NED. The word "sash" entered English from Arabic shāsh at about the same time as muslin. The Arabic shāsh was a long ribbon of lightweight muslin used to make a turban. It could be of cotton or linen. A large part of the market for muslin in the Middle East in those days was for shāsh turbans, which were many, many meters long. The Thousand and One Nights tales has Arabic وإلى رأسه شاش موصلي = "and on his head a shāsh mūsilī ". In John Florio's Italian dictionary in 1611 mussolo was defined as "a kind of head-attire or turbant that the Persians wear" – ref. Later in the 17th century and still today in Italian mussola = "muslin".
  35. ^ "Lilac" in Rariorum aliquot stirpium per Hispanias observatarum Historia, by Carolus Clusius, year 1576, in Latin. In an updated edition in 1601, Carolus Clusius said the lilac tree was brought from Istanbul specifically – Rariorum Plantarum Historia, by Carolus Clusius, year 1601, in Latin. The common lilac was first brought to Western Europe in 1563 by a Western ambassador stationed in Istanbul, Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, who gave live specimens of the tree to the professional botanists Clusius and Matthiolus. Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq is also credited with bringing to Western Europe, for either the first or near first time, tulip flower bulbs and horse chestnut trees, which he got in Istanbul along with the lilacs. Refs: Lilacs: the genus Syringa, by John L. Fiala, year 2002, page 16; Encyclopaedia Romana, article on Carolus Clusius; also "Garden history" in the Common Lilac article.
  36. ^ "Lilac" and "lillach" in The Herball, or General Historie of Plantes, by John Gerard, year 1597, page 1214-1215 (and a drawing of the lilac is on the righthand side of page 1213). In a list published the previous year (1596) John Gerrard called it "Lylac Mathioli" – ref: A Catalogue of Plants Cultivated in the Garden of John Gerard in the Years 1596–1599, Edited with Notes, by Benjamin Daydon Jackson, year 1876, pages 10 and 41.
  37. ^ The common lilac tree is popular in gardens in Russia and Canada. It will not bloom under cultivation in most Arabic-speaking locales because the winters are not cold enough; the tree requires a length of cold weather to set the buds for bloom – ref: Lilacs: the genus Syringa, by John L. Fiala, year 2002, pages 5 and 13. The tree is native in upland areas of the Balkans, where it blooms with light-violet blue color, and it has not been demonstrated to be native anywhere else – same ref pages 15 to 18. In world history the earliest records for the tree come from the 16th century in Istanbul, where it was grown as an ornamental, and from where it was brought to northwestern Europe for the same purpose in the later 16th. The Balkans was part of the Turkish Empire at the time. However the western European botanists at the time imagined that the Turks in Istanbul must have gotten the new tree species from somewhere in the Orient. It was not until more than two centuries later (beginning in 1828) that Western botanists discovered and confirmed it was native in the Balkans, and afterwards the earlier misperception was shaken off only gradually – "A visit to the home of the lilac", by Edgar Anderson, year 1935, pages 2 and 4. The tree does not have a known record in Arabic until two centuries after the records begin in English and French; fr:Ellious Bocthor (died 1821), who lived in Paris, seems to be the author of the first known record in Arabic – see e.g. Dozy, year 1869 page 297. In today's Greek language the word for indigo dye is λουλάκι loulaki. In Albanian language the indigo dye is called llullaq (audio pronunciation). In Macedonian language one of the names for the color indigo and violet – but not for light-violet and not for the lilac tree – is Лилјакова līlyakova (audio pronunciation), color-names in Macedonian often having the suffix -ова. The indigo dye was imported from India (the indigo plants are tropical). The dye's name in the southern Balkans looks to be from the Persian līlaj | līlang = "indigo dye", related to Persian nīlak = "blueish" and Arabic nīlaj = "indigo dye", from the Sanskritic nila = "indigo". The lilac tree's name may have been generated in the Balkans from this Balkans color word, with reference to the tree's blue flowers. The tree is called люляк leulyak (lewl-yak) in Bulgarian (ref), earlier also spelled люлек leulek in Bulgarian (ref). The tree is leylak in Turkish, which is the source of the Western European word (Skeat 1888). (In most of the Balkans languages the tree is called "Yorgovan"). Some of today's English dictionaries continue to say erroneously that the word lilac entered the West by transfer from Arabic to Spanish (with no date given). Therefore it is worth mentioning that today's Spanish dictionaries say Spanish lila = "lilac" has been borrowed from the French (e.g. Diccionario RAE), which is to say that Spanish researchers have found no record in Spanish until some time after the records begin in French.
  38. ^ Quoted from Word Origins by John Ayto (year 2005). Likewise reported at
  39. ^ There is a Spanish almacabra = "Islamic graveyard" – Diccionario RAE. Almacabra is rare. Its earliest known record is 1554 (which is after macabra had entered Spanish from the French macabre). Almocavar has records from centuries earlier in medieval Portuguese, beginning in Portuguese Latin in 1137 – Iberoromanische Arabismen, by Y. Kiegel-Keicher, year 2005 page 138.
  40. ^ DRAE, C-OED,, M-W.
  41. ^ In Spanish, amasar is the usual word for "to knead" but Spanish also has a lesser-used form masar = "to knead" – ref: DRAE.
  42. ^ An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English (year 1921), by Ernest Weekley.