List of English words of Arabic origin (N-S)

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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. Archaic and rare 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]


نظير naẓīr, a point on a celestial sphere diametrically opposite some other point; or a direction to outer space diametrically opposite some other direction. That sense for the word was used by, e.g., the astronomer Al-Battani (died 929).[2] Naẓīr in medieval Arabic more broadly meant "counterpart".[3] "The Arabic 'z' here used is the 17th letter of the Arabic alphabet, an unusual letter with a difficult sound, which came to be rendered by 'd' in Low Latin."[4] The word's earliest records in the West are in 12th- and 13th-century Latin astronomy texts as nadahir and nadir, with the same meaning as the Arabic, and the earliest is in an Arabic-to-Latin translation.[2] Crossref zenith, which was transferred from Arabic astronomy to Latin astronomy on the same pathway at the same time. [1]
natron, natrium, kalium 
The ancient Greeks had the word nitron with the meaning of naturally-occurring sodium carbonate and similar salts. The medieval Arabs had this spelled نطرون natrūn with the same meaning. Today's European word natron, meaning hydrated sodium carbonate, is descended from the Arabic.[5] In Europe shortly after sodium was isolated as an element for the first time, in the early 19th century, sodium was given the scientific abbreviation Na from a newly created Latin name, initially natronium then natrium, which goes back etymologically to the medieval and early modern Arabic natrūn.[5][6] Also in the early 19th century, elemental potassium was isolated for the first time and was soon afterwards given the scientific abbreviation K representing a created Latin name Kalium, which was derived from 18th century scientific Latin Kali meaning potassium carbonate, which goes back etymologically to medieval Arabic al-qalī, which for the medieval Arabs was a mixture of potassium carbonate and sodium carbonate.[7] Crossref alkali on the list. [2]


نارنج nāranj, orange (a citrus fruit). Arabic descends from Sanskritic nāraṅga = "orange" (a citrus fruit). The orange tree came from India. It was introduced to the Mediterranean region by the Arabs in the early 10th century, at which time all oranges were bitter oranges.[8] The word is in all the Mediterranean Latin languages from the later medieval centuries. Today it is naranja in Spanish. Today it is arancia in Italian, and orange in French, and this wordform with the loss of the leading ‘n’ occurs early as Latin arangia (late 12th century[9]). [3]


popinjay (parrot) 
ببغاء babaghāʾ | babbaghāʾ, parrot. The change from medieval Arabic sound /b/ to medieval Latin and French sound /p/ also occurs in the loanwords Julep, Jumper, Spinach, and Syrup. The French papegai = "parrot" has a late-12th-century start date[10] and the English dates from a century later. The wordform was affected by the pre-existing (from classical Latin) French gai = Spanish gayo = English "jay (bird)". Parrots were imported to medieval Europe via Arabic speakers.[11] [4]


رهج الغار rahj al-ghār, realgar, arsenic sulfide.[12] In medieval times, realgar was used as a rodent poison, as a corrosive, and as a red paint pigment. The ancient Greeks & Romans knew the substance. Other names for it in medieval Arabic writings include "red arsenic" and "rodent poison". Ibn al-Baitar in the early 13th century wrote: "Among the people of the Maghreb it is called rahj al-ghār" (literally: "cavern powder").[13] In European languages the name's earliest known records are in 13th-century Spanish spelled rejalgar, and 13th-century Italian-Latin spelled realgar.[10] Records in English of the 15th century often spelled it resalgar.[14] [5]
ream (quantity of sheets of paper) 
رزمة rizma, bale, bundle. Paper itself was introduced to the Latins via the Arabs in and around the 12th and 13th centuries – the adoption by the Latins went slowly; history of paper. The Arabic word for a bundle spread to most European languages along with paper itself, with the initial transfer from Arabic happening in Iberia.[12] Spanish was resma, Italian risma. The Catalan raima, first record 1287,[10] looks the forerunner of the English word-form. First record in English is 1356.[15] [6]
rook (chess), roc (mythology) 
رخّ rukhkh, (1) the rook piece in the game of chess, (2) a mythological bird in the 1001 Arabian Nights tales. The Arabic dictionary Lisan al-Arab completed in 1290 said the chess-piece name rukhkh came from Persian; crossref check. The bird meaning for Arabic rukhkh may have come from Persian too. But not from the same word. All available evidence supports the view that the two meanings of Arabic rukhkh sprang from two independent and different roots.[16] The chess rook is in French from about 1150 onward spelled as roc.[10] [7] [8]


sabkha (landform) 
سبخة sabkha, salt marsh. This Arabic 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.[17] [9]
سفر safar, journey. Safari entered English in the late 19th century from Swahili language safari = "journey" which is from Arabic safar = "journey". [10]
عصفر ʿusfur, safflower; or a non-standard variant عصفر ʿasfar, safflower. The flower of this plant was commercially cultivated for use as a dye in the Mediterranean region in medieval times. From the medieval Arabic word plus Arabic al-, medieval Catalan had alasfor = "safflower". Medieval Catalan also had alazflor = "safflower" where Catalan flor = "flower". But the source of the English word was medieval Italian. The "-fur" or "-far" part of the Arabic word mutated in Italian to "-flore | -fiore" which is Italian for flower. Medieval Italian spellings included asfiore, asflore, asfrole, astifore, affiore, zaflore, saffiore, all meaning safflower. In medieval Arabic dictionaries the spelling is ʿusfur, but an oral variant ʿasfar would be unexceptional in Arabic speech and would be a little better fit to the Romance language wordforms.[18] [11]
زعفران zaʿfarān, saffron. Zaʿfarān meaning saffron is commonplace from the outset of writings in Arabic.[3] It was common in medieval Arab cookery.[19] The ancient Romans used saffron but called it crocus. The earliest known for the name saffron in Latin is year 1156 safranum (location in Genoa in Italy, in a commercial contract).[20] The name saffron became predominant in all the Western languages in the late medieval centuries, in word-forms that led to today's French safran, Italian zafferano, Spanish azafrán. Also English organic chemical safranin. [12]
saphena (saphenous vein) 
صافن sāfin, saphenous vein (saphena vein). The saphena vein is in the human leg. It was one of the veins used in medieval medical bloodletting (phlebotomy), which was the context of use of the word medievally. Medical writers who used the word in Arabic include Al-Razi (died c. 930), Haly Abbas (died c. 990), Albucasis (died c. 1013) and Avicenna (died 1037).[21] In Latin the earliest known record is in an Arabic-to-Latin translation by Constantinus Africanus (died c. 1087) translating Haly Abbas.[22] Bloodletting, which was practiced in ancient Greek and Latin medicine, was revamped in later-medieval Latin medicine under influence from Arabic medicine. [13]
sash (ribbon) 
شاش shāsh, a ribbon of fine cloth wrapped to form a turban, and usually made of muslin.[23] Crossref muslin which entered English and other Western languages about the same time. In English the early records are in travellers' reports and among the earliest is this comment from an English traveller in the Middle East in 1615: "All of them wear on their heads white shashes.... Shashes are long towels of Calico wound about their heads."[24] In the later 17th century in English, "shash" still had that original meaning, and additionally it took on the meaning of a ribbon of fine cloth wrapped around the waist. About the beginning of the early 18th century the predominant wordform in English changed from "shash" to "sash".[25] In Arabic today shāsh means gauze or muslin. [14]
sequin (clothing ornament) 
سكّة sikka, minting die for coins, also meaning the place where coins were minted, and also meaning coinage in general.[3] In its early use in English and French, sequin was the name of Venetian and Turkish gold coins, and it came from Italian zecchino (early 16th century), which came from Italian zecca (early 13th century).[26] Production of the Venetian sequin (coin) ended in 1797. "The word might well have followed the coin into oblivion, but in the 19th century it managed to get itself applied to the small round shiny pieces of metal applied to clothing."[27] [15]
This word was created in English in 1754 from "Serendip", an old fairy-tale place, from سرنديب Serendīb, an old Arabic name for the island of Sri Lanka.[28] Fortified in English by its resemblance to the etymologically unrelated "serenity". The tale with the serendipitous happenings was The Three Princes of Serendip. [16]
شيخ shaīkh, sheikh. It has been in English since the 17th century meaning an Arab sheikh. In the 20th century it took on a slangy additional meaning of "strong, romantic man". This is attributed to a hit movie, The Sheik (film), 1921, starring Rudolph Valentino, and after the movie was a hit the book it was based on became a hit, and spawned imitators. [17]
صفّة soffa, a low platform or dais.[29] The Arabic was adopted into Turkish, and from Turkish it entered Western languages in the 16th century meaning a Middle-Eastern-style dais with rugs and cushions. The Western-style meaning —a sofa with legs— started in late-17th-century French.[29] [18]
إِسبناخ isbinākh in Andalusian Arabic, and إِسفاناخ isfānākh in medieval Arabic more generally, from Persian aspanākh, spinach.[10] "The spinach plant was unknown to the ancient Greeks and Romans. It was the Arabs who introduced the spinach into Spain, whence it spread to the rest of Europe,"[30] and the same is true of the name as well.[31] The first records in English are around year 1400.[14] [19]
sugar, sucrose, sucrase
سكّر sukkar, sugar. The word is ultimately from Sanskritic sharkara = "sugar". Cane sugar developed in ancient India originally. It was produced by the medieval Arabs on a pretty extensive scale although it always remained expensive throughout the medieval era. History of sugar. Among the earliest records in England are these entries in the account books of an Anglo-Norman abbey in Durham: year 1302 "Zuker Marok", 1309 "succre marrokes", 1310 "Couker de Marrok", 1316 "Zucar de Cypr[us]".[32] In Latin the early records are about year 1100 spelled zucharum and zucrum.[33] The Latin form sucrum or the French form sucre = "sugar" produced the modern chemistry terms sucrose and sucrase. [20]
sultan, sultana 
سلطان sultān, authority, ruler. The first ruler to use Sultan as a formal title was an Islamic Turkic-speaking ruler in Central Asia in the 11th century. He borrowed the word from Arabic.[34] In Arabic grammar سلطانة sultāna is the feminine of sultān. Caliph, emir, qadi, and vizier are other Arabic-origin words connected with rulers. Their use in English is mostly confined to discussions of Middle Eastern history. [21]
سمّاق summāq, sumac species of shrub or its fruit (Rhus coriaria). Anciently and medievally, different components of the sumac were used in leather making, in dyeing, and in medicine. The Arabic geography writer Al-Muqaddasi (died circa 1000) mentions summāq as one of the commercial crops of Syria.[35] Sumac was called rhus in Latin in the classical and early medieval periods. In the late medieval period sumac became the predominant name in Latin. The Arabic name is found in Latin starting in the 10th century[10] and as such it is one of the earliest loanwords on this list.[36] From the Latin, the word is in late medieval English medical books spelled sumac.[14] [22]
سواحل sawāhil, coasts (plural of sāhil, coast). Historically Swahili was the language used in commerce along the east coast of Africa, along 2000 kilometers of coast. Swahili is grammatically a Bantu language, with about one-third of its vocabulary taken from Arabic.[37] [23]
syrup, sherbet, sorbet 
شراب sharāb, a word with two senses in Arabic, "a drink" and "syrup". Medieval Arabic medical writers used it to mean a medicinal syrup, and this was passed into Latin in the late 11th century as siropus | siruppus | syrupus with the same meaning. Constantinus Africanus (died c. 1087), who was fluent in Arabic, is the author of the earliest known records in Latin.[38] The change from sound /sh/ to sound /s/ in going from sharāb to siroppus reflects the fact that Latin phonology did not use an /sh/ sound ever. The -us of siroppus is a carrier of Latin grammar and nothing more. In late medieval Europe a sirup was usually medicinal.[38] [24]. Separately from syrup, in the 16th century the same Arabic rootword re-entered Western European languages from Turkish. Turkish sherbet | shurbet = "a sweet lemonade" entered with that meaning into Italian and French as "sorbet" [25] and directly into English as "sherbet" [26]. The Turkish was from the Arabic word-form شربة sharba(t).

Addendum for words that may or may not be of Arabic ancestry[edit]

racquet or racket (tennis) 
Racquet with today's meaning has a late medieval start date. There are unanswered questions about its origin. French raquette (synonymous with Italian racchetta and English racquet) is widely reported as derived from medieval Latin rascete which meant the carpal bones of the wrist and the tarsal bones of the feet. The earliest records of this Latin anatomy word are in two 11th-century Latin medical texts, one of which was by the Arabic-speaking Constantinus Africanus who drew from Arabic medical sources, and surely he did take the anatomy word from Arabic. But there is no evidence to connect the anatomy word with the game word racquet. It would be a big leap in semantics to re-use the bones word as a word for a racquet. To warrant belief that this leap occurred, evidence would be necessary. Other etymology ideas try to connect racquet with other pre-existing words in late medieval Europe, but again with shortfalls in evidence.[39] [27]
This word was in all Western European languages in the late medieval centuries. It first appears in European languages in Latin about year 1100 spelled scarlata. The early meaning was a costly, dense and smooth cloth made of wool. The cloth could be any color, but was usually dyed red. In the late medieval centuries the word took on the meaning of red color, concurrently with continued meaning as a high-quality woolen cloth. The origin of the word is an unsettled issue. No candidate parent word in Latin is known of. So an Arabic origin is possible. A specific Arabic source has been proposed, but the evidence for it is not good. A Germanic source has also been proposed and has been preferred by some historians of medieval textiles.[40] [28]
soda, sodium 
Soda first appears in Western languages in late medieval Latin and Italian meaning the seaside plant Salsola soda and similar glasswort plants used to make soda ash for use in glassmaking, and simultaneously meaning soda ash itself. In medieval Catalan the name was sosa = "soda ash". Although of uncertain origin, an Arabic origin one way or another is considered likely by many reporters. It is most often said to be from Arabic سواد suwwād or سويدة suwayda, one or more species of glassworts whose ashes yielded soda ash, especially the species Suaeda vera. But that etymon suffers from a want of documentary evidence at a sufficiently early date. Also the Catalan form sosa is historically prior to the Italian form soda. A judgement that soda is "of unknown origin" is very defensible today.[41] The name "sodium" was derived from soda in early 19th century. [29]


  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 In the mid-12th century, Plato Tiburtinus did an Arabic-to-Latin translation of an astronomy book by Al-Battani (died 929). In the translation, Al-Battani's Arabic naẓīr and naẓīra was written down in Latin as nadahir. This was remarked on in a history of astronomy by Jean Delambre in 1819 – ref. The 10th century text by Al-Battani is in Arabic at (also at and, and its 12th century translation by Plato Tiburtinus is at The earliest reported secure record for the wordform nadir in the West is dated circa 1233 in the short and influential astronomy textbook De Sphaera Mundi by Johannes de Sacrobosco. Sacrobosco's book was influenced by Arabic astronomy; e.g. it quotes by name the Arabic astronomer Al-Farghani (aka Alfraganus) five times. In the context of talking about how planet Earth blocks sunlight from reaching the moon during a lunar eclipse, Sacrobosco says in Latin: "The nadir is a point in outer space directly opposite to the sun." That statement by Sacrobosco uses nadir in the sense the Arabic naẓīr was used, which in Arabic had a core meaning of "counterpart". Sacrobosco's De Sphaera is online in Latin and in English translation. Nadir in this original sense was used by Roger Bacon (died 1294) (ref) and Nicholas Oresme (died 1382) (ref), among others.
  3. ^ a b c 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.
  4. ^ Reported in An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, by Walter W. Skeat, year 1888. Downloadable.
  5. ^ a b English dictionaries saying "natron" is from Arabic include Merriam-Webster, American Heritage Dictionary, Random House Dictionary, Etymonline, Concise OED, NED, and Weekley. According to all those English dictionaries, the transfer from Arabic to the Western languages was through Spanish, at an unspecified date. But all the main Spanish dictionaries say Spanish natron is from French. That includes the official dictionary of the Spanish language, Diccionario RAE. The Spanish natron, and also the variant anatron, "are modern technical terms borrowed from French", says the Spanish and Arabic expert Federico Corriente (year 2008). The earliest known modern record of natron in Spanish is year 1817, says the Spanish etymology dictionary Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico (year 1983). The earliest French is 1653 – The earliest English is 1684 – NED. "Natron" and the closely associated "anatron" were established together in English dictionaries from 1706. Nathan Bailey's English Dictionary in 1737 defined natron as "a kind of black, greyish salt taken out of a lake of stagnant water in the territory of Terrana in Egypt" – ref; and defined "anatron" as any of several salts including one taken from Egypt – ref. The substance natron was brought to Europe from Egypt in the medieval centuries as well as in the early modern centuries. The usual word for it in medieval Latin was nitrum (etymologically from ancient Greek without Arabic intermediation). It was called nitrum in late medieval English as well – MED. One late medieval Latin dictionary defined nitrum as "a kind of salt brought from Alexandria", Egypt – ref: Alphita. In the medieval Latin literature more generally nitrum could also be a name for other alkaline salts – ref. In Arabic, a 9th-century Arabic minerals book said natrūn is a type of salt used as a washing agent – ref. That is natron. Many more examples from medieval Arabic are at under النطرون al-natrūn and نطرون natrūn. The wordform "natron" occurs in Latin in Italy in a book by Simon of Genoa in late 13th century, in which "natron" was stated to be simply "the Arabic word for nitrum" – ref: Raja Tazi, year 1998. The wordform "anatron" (formed from al-natrūn) occurs in Latin around year 1300 in a book by the influential Latin alchemist Pseudo-Geber – ref: Pseudo-Geber as published 1542. Both of those two medieval Latin writers had some knowledge of Arabic language. Natron and anatron were rare in medieval Latin. However, in the 16th century, anatron | anathron was adopted in Latin in Germany in the widely disseminated writings of Paracelsus (died 1541) – Paracelsus was influenced by Pseudo-Geber – and then by Paracelsus's followers Oswald Croll (died 1609) and Martin Ruland (died 1602) – ref: Raja Tazi, year 1998. Martin Ruland also used the spelling natron and said natron was synonymous with nitrum – ref: Martin Ruland, year 1612. Despite those precedents in Latin, today's official dictionary of the French language judges that the French natron arrived in French directly from Arabic natrūn, from Egypt, in the mid-17th century, meaning sodium carbonate – In early 17th century Europe the name nitrum had undesirable ambiguity, as can be seen in the several incompatible meanings for nitrum given in Martin Ruland's 1612 Lexicon Alchemiae. The primary meaning for nitrum was becoming potassium nitrate, aka nitre (the parent of "nitrogen"). Undoubtedly this encouraged adoption of name natron to reduce the potential for misunderstanding.
  6. ^ "Natrium" at Elementymology & Elements Multidict.
  7. ^ "Kalium" at Elementymology & Elements Multidict.
  8. ^ Origin of Cultivated Plants by Alphonse de Candolle (year 1885), pages 183–188 for 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. The geographer 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 (ref).
  9. ^ George Gallesio's history of the culture of citrus fruits (year 1811) (online) cites arangias acetoso used in Latin in a letter entitled Ad Petrum Panormitanae Ecclesiae Thesaurarium dated 1189 and attributed to a Latin author of the later 12th century named Hugo Falcandus. The same is cited in Du Cange's Glossary of Medieval Latin.
  10. ^ a b c d e f 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.
  11. ^ Parrots come from tropical or at least semi-tropical environs. Parrots were imported to Mediterranean Europe in antiquity. The ancient Greek and classical Latin name for a parrot was psittacus. In the medieval era, the imports of parrots to Europe often and probably usually came through Arabic speakers. Medieval Arabic from an early date has al-bab(a)ghāʾ | al-babbaghāʾ = "parrot" as a wellknown and commonplace word – الببغا + الببغاء @ It is taken to be the parent word of the medieval Greek papagás = "parrot" (the 's' in papagás is a grammatical affix: masculine singular nominative-case nouns end in 's' in Greek grammar), and the medieval French papegai, medieval Spanish papagayo, and similar forms in other medieval European languages – popinjay @ NED. In Arabic it is not known how the word babaghā originated. The same word babaghā is in Persian. An origin in a tropical locale has been suggested.
  12. ^ a b Glossaire des mots espagnols et portugais dérivés de l'arabe by R. Dozy & W.H. Engelmann. 430 pages. Published in 1869.
  13. ^ The medieval Arabs often used the substance realgar but generally not the name realgar. The name realgar has its parentage in mostly oral, non-literary, medieval Maghrebi Arabic, as demonstrated in Reinhart Dozy, year 1869, and a supplement to what Dozy says is in Henri Lammens, year 1890. Dozy cites two medieval Arabic texts with رهج الغار rahj al-ghār = "realgar", and Lammens cites one more.
  14. ^ a b c Documented in the Middle English Dictionary (the "MED").
  15. ^ Rem | Reme in the MED.
  16. ^ Some uncertainty exists about what the roots were. "Of Rukhs and Rooks, Camels and Castles", by Remke Kruk, year 2001 in ORIENS: Journal of the International Society for Oriental Research, volume 36 pages 288-298.
  17. ^ An Intro to Sabkhas. Also A Proposed Formal Definition for Sabkha. Also a different Formal Definition for Sabkha.
  18. ^ The safflower is an annual plant that is native to a truly arid climate that has an annual rainy season. The plant has poor defenses against many types of fungal diseases in damp and rainy weather. This greatly restricts the areas in which it can be grown reliably; ref. Alphonse de Candolle in his Origin of Cultivated Plants (year 1885) reports that the ancient Greeks and Romans have not left any clear written evidence that they were acquainted with the safflower plant, particularly not for its use as a dye, even though the evidence is excellent that the ancient Egyptians used safflower – ref (Carthamus tinctorius). In medieval Arabic the most-often-used name for safflower was عصفر ʿusfur. Medieval Arabic dictionaries say ʿusfur is the plant that produces a well-known dye and also means the dye itself ( A summary of the Italian evidence for the Arabic origin of the word "safflower" in late medieval Italian is in Yule & Burnell (year 1903) and much of Yule & Burnell's evidence comes from Pegolotti's Mercatura, year 1340. Italian variant spelling zaflore year 1310 is in TLIO. The Catalan alazflor = "safflower" was used by Francesc Eiximenis (died 1409) and the Catalan alasfor = "bastard saffron", meaning "safflower", was used in an ordinance of king Martin I of Aragon (died 1410), as cited in Vocabulario del comercio medieval: Colección de aranceles aduaneros de la Corona de Aragón (siglo XIII y XIV), by Miguel Gual Camarena, year 1968. (Francesc Eiximenis's usages were in his 1383 book Regiment de la cosa publica which is online). The Catalan alasfor = "safflower", although not often used nowadays, is still listed in modern Catalan dictionaries – ref, ref, ref, ref. In Portuguese, an old and near-obsolete form is açaflor = "safflower" and Portuguese also has alaçor = "safflower" and açafroa = "safflower". In Spanish the usual word for safflower was and is alazor which is from the Arabic al-ʿusfur = "the safflower". In the 13th century in Occitan Romance language in southern France there is safra = "safflower" and safran = "safflower" – Medical Synonym Lists from Medieval Provence. This Occitan form is understood as altered from Arabic ʿusfur | ʿasfar = "safflower" with the alteration clearly showing influence from Occitan safran = "saffron"; it is not understood as a simple direct re-purposing of safran = "saffron". By the way, according to Alphonse de Candolle and others, the ancient Greek cnikos and classical Latin cnicus is to be interpreted as a thistle-type plant different from the safflower.
  19. ^ Book Medieval Arab Cookery: Essays and Translations, by M. Rodinson, A.J. Arberry and C. Perry, year 2001, 527 pages.
  20. ^ Safran @ and zafarana @ Arabismi Medievali di Sicilia by Girolamo Caracausi (1983). The first known record of the name saffron in a European language is in The Cartulary of Giovanni Scriba during the years 1154-1164.
  21. ^ A Treatise on Small-Pox and Measles by Abu Becr Mohammed Ibn Zacariya Ar-Razi, Translated from the Original Arabic by William Alexander Greenhill, year 1848, translator's note on page 154 gives citations for al-sāfin = "saphenous vein" in Haly Abbas, Albucasis and Avicenna, and on page 45 has Al-Razi's usage. Albucasis's description of how to take blood from the saphenous vein is in Arabic together with English translation in the book Albucasis on Surgery and Instruments, year 1973 page 652-653. Avicenna's Canon of Medicine uses the word al-sāfin on 32 different pages in the context of bloodletting treatments – Search results for الصافن at In addition to medical books, some medieval Arabic general-purpose dictionaries have al-sāfin = "saphenous vein". One of these is the Fiqh al-Lugha of Al-Tha'alibi (died 1038) – ref. Another is the Lisan al-Arab dictionary – صافن @
  22. ^ The saphena vein is in Constantinus Africanus spelled sophena. It receives a paragraph of discussion in an article about Constantinus's terminology by Gotthard Strohmaier, year 1994 page 98. Another early record in Latin is as saphena circa 1170 in Gerard of Cremona's translation of Avicenna (ref: in Latin) and this is noted in a book about the history of anatomy terminology by Singer and Rabin, year 1946. In the Latin surgery book of Lanfranc of Milan (died 1306) the word is spelled both sophena and saphenaRef. Some more etymology references are at saphène @
  23. ^ Dictionnaire détaillé des noms des vêtements chez les Arabes by Reinhard Dozy, year 1845, on pages 235 - 243, goes into detail on the old meaning of the Arabic clothing word shāsh.
  24. ^ The quote is from "A relation of a journey begun in 1610... containing a description of the Turkish Empire, of Egypt, of the Holy Land...", by George Sandys, first published in 1615: online. In the Middle East around that time it was the custom for men to wear a turban that consisted of about seven meters of fine lightweight muslin cloth wound around the head. Another traveller's description was given by Fynes Moryson in 1617: Fynes Moryson's Itinerary, 1617. More quotations of early use of "s[h]ash" in English are in NED (year 1914).
  25. ^ John Kersey's English dictionary of 1708 and Nathan Bailey's English dictionary of 1726 have "shash" defined as "the linen of which a Turkish turbant is made; also a kind of girdle made of silk, etc. to tie about the waist" (online in Bailey's). Those dictionaries have a separate entry for "sash" which they define as "a sort of girdle" [girdle = a band around the waist] (online in Bailey's). Roman Catholic and Anglican clergy sometimes wore a sash wrapped around the waist or midriff (see fascia). In a book about the clergy by John Eachard published in 1685 the word is spelled "shash" (ref), but the spelling was changed to "sash" in the 1705 edition of the same book (ref). The change in English from earlier "shash" to later "sash" is a case of phonetic dissimilation, says Weekley (1921).
  26. ^ Medieval examples of Italian zecca are at Tesoro della Lingua Italiana delle Origini (TLIO). Its earliest record in Italian is in 1207-1208 in a trade treaty between merchants of Venice and the Sultan of Aleppo. This record is quoted at TLIO.
  27. ^ Quote from Word Origins: The Hidden Histories of English Words, by John Ayto (year 2005). Likewise reported at and NED.
  28. ^ The Arabic "Sarandib" meaning Sri Lanka also occurs in English in translations of the Sinbad the Sailor tales (which are part of the Thousand Nights and a Night tales). In a translation of these tales in 1885, the translator Richard F. Burton has a footnote that the Arabic Sarandīb | Serendīb is etymologically from Sanskritic Selan-dwipa where Selan is the same thing as the old English name "Ceylon" and dwipa is Sanskritic for "island" – ref (page 64). Further discussed at Names of Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka in year 1902 a previously unknown type of mineral was discovered and given the name Serendibite from the old Arabic name for Sri Lanka. The mineral Serendibite has since been found in North America and elsewhere, but remains very rare.
  29. ^ a b "Sofa" in NED (in English), (in French), and Lammens (in French). E. W. Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon says the medieval Arabic soffa was "an appurtenance of a house" akin to a porch. Soffa had further usages in medieval Arabic; more from E. W. Lane at Ref. However, the use of soffa in Arabic to mean a sofa (found in Bocthor's dictionary in early 19th century) was a post-medieval development and perhaps started in Turkish. The following are depictions of Turkish sofas painted in the early 18th century in Turkey: Sofa--1, Sofa--2, Sofa--3, Sofa--4. The year 1680 Turkish-Arabic-Persian-Latin Dictionary of Mesgnien-Meninski defined صفّة soffa in both Turkish and Arabic in the same way as what is depicted in those paintings, and defined it as a porch also – ref.
  30. ^ The quote is from the etymology dictionary by Lammens year 1890. The spinach plant is on record in Latin Europe from the 12th century onward (see e.g. The oldest written evidence for people eating spinach anywhere in the world comes from the 7th century AD in China; and Chinese sources indicate the plant came to China from Iran – Sino-Iranica... with special reference to the history of cultivated plants, by Berthold Laufer, year 1919, pages 392-398. A subspecies of spinach has been found growing in the wild in northern Iran and is thought to occur natively there; and the cultivation of spinach is thought to have originated in Iran not long before the Islamic conquest of Iran – Origin of Cultivated Plants, by Alphonse De Candolle, year 1885, pages 98-100.
  31. ^ A 12th-century Andalusian Arab called Ibn Hisham Al-Lakhmi called spinach isbinākh and another Andalusian Arab source spelled it asbinākhA Dictionary of Andalusi Arabic (year 1997). That Andalusian Arabic wordform is phonetically close to the medieval Catalan and Spanish form espinac | espinaca, and the medieval French forms espinache, espinage, espinoche, espinace, and similar forms –, DMF, Godefroy, MED, At Baghdad in the 10th century cookbook of Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq, the word for spinach is spelled isfanākhref. The form isfānākh is on record in Arabic from the late 9th century, which is nearly three centuries before a record of spinach in a Western language. In a Western language the first known records of the plant under any name are in the 12th century in Provençal ( and Catalan (
  32. ^ "Sugar" in the Middle English Dictionary. "Marrok" meant Morocco – that is clear from elsewhere in the same dictionary.
  33. ^ Spellings of the word for sugar in later-medieval Latin included sucrum, succarum, sucharum, sucarium, succurum, zucrum, zucara, zuccarum, zuchar, zucharum, zuccura, zucuriumDu Cange. Those are Latinizations of oral Romance speech. Of the early records in Latin, the earliest is in the Arabic-to-Latin medical translator Constantinus Africanus (died c. 1087). Constantinus has the word a dozen times in his Theorica Pantegni, which on the whole is a translation of a medical book of 'Ali ibn al-'Abbas al-Majusi (died c. 990). A manuscript of Theorica Pantegni dated 3rd quarter of 12th century as a physical manuscript spells it zucharum | zucharoCodex EÖ.II.14. Another of the early Latin records is zucra about 1125 in the Crusades chronicle Historia Hierosolymitanae expeditionis ("History of the Expedition to Jerusalem") by Albert of Aachen. The ancient Greeks & Romans knew sugar as an import from India, and they used it as a medicine, not as a food. Ancient Greek sakcharon and classical Latin saccharum meant "sugar" (examples from ancient writers). No historical continuity exists between the classical Latin saccharum and the later-medieval Latin zuccharum | sucharum, and nobody nowadays contends that saccharum (with its letter 'a') was the ancestor of zuccharum | sucharum (with its letter 'u'). Instead, etymology dictionaries are longstandingly unanimous that the Arabic sukkar was the parent of the later-medieval Latin word. On the other hand, modern English "saccharin" and "saccharide" were created as scientific terms as modern borrowings of the ancient saccharumNew English Dictionary on Historical Principles.
  34. ^ Quote: "Sultān in Arabic is an abstract noun, meaning authority and rule, and was used from early times to denote the government.... It first became official in the eleventh century, when the Seljuks adopted it as their chief regnal title." – ref. The Seljuk ruler Tughril Beg proclaimed himself al-Sultān in 1038 – ref.
  35. ^ Extracts from Al-Muqaddasi's late-10th-century Description of Syria in English translation are at Ref. Summāq is in the "Commerce" section. This was noted by Henri Lammens, year 1890, citing the Arabic text of Al-Muqaddasi. Lammens also cites a couple of other medieval Arabic geography writers who used the word. Summāq can be cited from many medieval Arabic medicine writers, as it was commonly used in medicaments.
  36. ^ Ambergris, Azure, Camphor and Galangal have 9th-century Latin records; Those are the earliest.
  37. ^ Swahili-to-English Dictionary, with etymologies for the Swahili words, compiled by Andras Rajki, year 2005, containing 2000 words.
  38. ^ a b The Arabic medical writer Ibn Sina (died 1037) called syrup sharāb and has dozens of different syrups in his Book V, Treatise 6: On potions and thickened juices. The medical writer Najm al-Din Mahmud (died 1330) has another set of dozens of recipes for viscous sharāb for medical purposes, where fruit juices are boiled to reduce water by evaporation, and sugar is added – ref (in Arabic and French). "Sharāb... is very common in [old] Arabic medical writings", says Reinhart Dozy year 1869. Some comments on the use of syrups among the medieval Arabs are in the book Food and Foodways of Medieval Cairenes, year 2011 pages 461-464. In Latin, the word is in the Arabic-to-Latin medical translator Constantinus Africanus (died c. 1087) with the early surviving copies of his work spelling it variously syrop_ | sirop_ | sirup_ref , ref. No records pre-dating Constantinus Africanus are known in Latin. In the 12th century in Latin, siropus | sirupus | syropus | syrupus is frequent in the works of the Salernitan school of medicine (ref), whose ways of doing medicine were much influenced by Constantinus Africanus. The word is frequent in the Arabic-to-Latin medical translations of the translator Gerard of Cremona (died c. 1187) (examples). In late medieval western Europe, "syrup" usually meant a medicinal syrup (sugar + liquid + medicine) – that is well documented for 15th-century English in the Middle English Dictionary and is evident in the entry for sirop in the Dictionary of late medieval French.
  39. ^ Most of today's English etymology dictionaries report that "racquet" is of Arabic ancestry, but they don't explain how. Some aspects of an origin in Arabic anatomy terminology are at More historical info about the medieval anatomy word meaning the wrist bones and tarsal bones is at English Words Of Arabic Etymological Ancestry: Note #185. A minority of English dictionaries judge that there is not enough evidence from late medieval European writings to warrant belief that the word for the wrist bones generated the word for the racquet (e.g. NED, Corriente). Alternative etymologies are discussed at length in German in "Zur Herkunft von französisch raquette", by Christian Schmitt in Romania Arabica, year 1996, pages 47-55.
  40. ^ The following is a 90-page essay in French arguing that the medieval Latin word scarlata (English scarlet) is of Germanic origin: Le Drap ESCARLATE au Moyen Age: Essai sur l'étymologie et la signification du mot écarlate et notes techniques sur la fabrication de ce drap de laine au moyen age, by J.-B. Weckerlin, year 1905. Weckerlin's argument has been endorsed by, e.g., Ref (in French) and Ref (in French). Weckerlin's argument has evidence gaps and leaves room for doubt. The following is a 7-page argument in English that scarlata came from Germanic. It agrees with Weckerlin's conclusion, and takes some of its information from Weckerlin, but mostly follows a different line of evidence: Ref (year 2015). The argument for a Germanic source has good plausibility, but again some room for doubt exists. The following is a 12-page argument that the medieval Latin word came from Arabic: "Ciclatoun Scarlet", by George Foot Moore, year 1913. In the 19th century it was often said that the medieval word scarlata had come from Persian. To the knowledge of people in the 19th century, there was no suitable parent word to be seen in Latin, Greek, Arabic, or Germanic, but there was one in Persian. However, researchers in the 20th century have rejected the idea that the European word could have come from Persian, and none of the above references lend any support to it, and the last two above go into reasons why it ought to be rejected. In continuation from the 19th century tradition, some dictionaries today still summarily say the word came from Persian (not Arabic); e.g. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary. Others of today's dictionaries say the medieval Latin word is "of unknown origin"; e.g. Collins English Dictionary. Others say the word came from Arabic (not Persian); e.g. Concise Oxford Dictionary.
  41. ^ The etymology of the word "soda" is discussed in depth in German in the article "Soda" by Arnald Steiger in journal Vox Romanica year 1937 pages 53-76 (with main conclusions on pages 73-76). A review in English that takes information from Arnald Steiger's article is English Words That Are Of Arabic Etymological Ancestry: Note #186, Soda.