Top 10 English Words Derived From Arabic:
is a list of English words whose origins can be traced back to Arabic.
Some will be immediately recognizable, as they refer to phenomena and
concepts directly associated with the Middle East. Other words will be
so familiar in their contemporary sense that you may be surprised to
find that they came to English from such a distant language. While some
of the words in this list have more or less direct transfer from the
source language to the target, others took a more circuitous route,
arriving in various permutations after passing through third languages
such as Spanish, Persian and Turkish. To the best of my knowledge the
information here is correct, however I’d appreciate any insight and/or
A brief note on Arabic: the Arabic language is based
on a trilateral root system, in which (most) words can be broken down
into a three letter base. This root takes the form of the third person
singular past tense. For this reason you will see these roots rendered
in English as “he (performed action)”.
begin the list with one of the terms most known to western audiences,
as well as one the most semantically debated and controversial. The
origin of the word is جهد (ja-ha-da) meaning “he made an effort.” In the
religious context this type of effort can run the gamut from helping
your neighbor, achieving an inner Zen-like devotion to God and, yes,
violent struggle in defense of the faith. Due to Arabic’s position as
the liturgical language of Islam we will see that many words which have
transferred solely to other languages in a religious context can have a
more mundane, day-to-day meaning in the original Arabic. For example,
the word جهود (jahood), from the same root as ‘jihad” simply means
“efforts” and is not necessarily religious in tone.
may be able to discern that مجهدين (mujahedeen) comes from the same
root as the previous entry. A mujahid is someone who takes up arms in
defense of the faith. The label was applied to Afghan warriors resisting
the Soviet occupation of their country. It generally was viewed in a
positive light during the 1980s when the West, especially the US, was
supporting these fighters against the communist enemy. Since that time,
however, the term mujahedeen has since fallen into ill repute, largely
due to the actions of Islamist fighters who battled in Afghanistan and
then spread to the corner’s of the earth committing acts of terror in
the name of their faith.
all words deal with fiery topics like religious zeal. Ream refers to a
bundle of paper consisting of 480, 500, or 516 sheets. The original
Arabic word is رزمة, which means package or bundle.