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English Words Of Arabic Origin

It's common knowledge that the English language has taken some inspiration from other languages, but some of these Arabic examples may surprise you…

Many of us will have memories of our fathers or grandfathers telling us how Egypt is the cradle of civilisation, and how Arabs invented literally everything, and you’ve probably shrugged it off as simple nationalism. However, the Middle East has, in fact, had a rather large influence on Western culture, including language. Here is a list of some of our personal favourite English words that actually have Arabic origin:

Admiral - amīr, meaning military commander

Assassin - Hasashin, an Arabic nickname for the Nizari Ismaili religious sect in the Levant during the era of the Crusades

Candy -  from the Arabic word qandī, meaning sugared

Crimson - qirmizī, a class of medieval dyes used for silk and wool

Guitar - From the word kithara, a traditional stringed instrument, the predecessor to the modern guitar

Jumper - Named after jubba, a traditional robe worn in some Arab countries

Magazine - makhāzin, meaning storehouse, because magazines were considered “stores” of information

Mattress - from matrah, a large cushion or rug for lying on

Nadir - naẓīr, the point of a celestial body's orbit that is the exact opposite of another point

Silk - salka, as in thread or cable

Sofa -  from soffa, a low platform or dais

Syrup -  sharāb, the Arabic equivalent

Talisman - from the word tilsam, meaning an incantation or artifact

Tangerine - from Tanja, port city in Morocco where Westerners first encountered the fruit

Tariff - as in ta3rīf, meaning a notification or specification


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