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What are 10 examples of English words that have Arabic origins?

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acez123 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 12, 2012 at 12:33 AM via web

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What are 10 examples of English words that have Arabic origins?

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted November 12, 2012 at 6:26 PM (Answer #1)

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The Oxford English Dictionary lists over 900 English words that have Arabic origins.  Here are a few common examples.

1. ADMIRAL (commander of a ship): from the Arabic "Amir," meaning "commander."

2. ALCOHOL: from the Arabic "al-kohl," which originally referred to a finely ground powder.  The word later took on the meaning of something that was purified or distilled, like the alcohol that people drink today.  The "al" at the beginning of the word alcohol is really just a prefix that means "the."

3. ALGEBRA: from the Arabic "al-jabar," which means "restoring broken parts."  In algebra, we search for the value of an unknown variable, so we are "restoring broken parts."

4. APRICOT: from the Arabic "al-barquq."  

5. ARSENAL (a place for manufacturing or storing weapons): from the Arabic "dar-sina'a," a house of manufacturing.

6. ARTICHOKE: from the Arabic "al-kharshuf"

7. ASSASSIN (political murderer): from the Arabic "hashashin," a group during the Crusades era that carried out politically motivated murderers.  The hashashin ate hashish (part of the cannabis, or marijuana, plant) before carrying out their murders. 

8. CANDY: from the Arabic "qandi," meaning sugared.

9. COFFEE: from the Arabic "qahwa."  Coffee drinking originated in the Arabic-speaking country of Yemen.

10. COTTON: from the Arabic "qutun."  


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