Arabic Words in English

  • ALCHEMY and CHEMISTRY (الكيميـــــــــاء.)
  • ALCOHOL (الكُحُـــــــــول.) 
  • ALGEBRA (الجبــر: More on the eponymous founder of Algebra as an independent mathematical discipline here.)
  • ALGORITHM (خوارزم: More on the eponymous founder of algorthimics here.)
  • ALKALINE (القلوي: Meaning “non-acid, basic.”) 
  • ALMANAC (المنــــــاخ: Literally meaning “climate”)
  • CIPHER (صِفـــــــــــــــــــــــــــر: The term “cipher” is now mostly applied in cryptography—see الكَندي/Al-Kindi’s work.)
  • ELIXIR (الإكسيــــــــــــــر: Something like a “syrup”—also an Arabic term, possibly borrowed from Persian.) 
  • NADIR (نظيـــــــــــــر: It is the opposite of the zenith.)
  • SODA (صـــــــــودا.)
  • ZERO (same as “cipher.”)

 (Altair: الطَّائـــــــــر meaning “the bird”; Betelgeuse: بيت الجــــــوزاء, meaning “the House of the Gemini”; Deneb: ذنب meaning “tail”; Fomalhaut: فم الحوت which means “the mouth of the Pisces”, Rigel: رِجـــــــل meaning “foot”, it stands for رجل الجبَّار, or the “foot of the Titan”, Vega: الواقع meaning “the Falling”, refers to النسر الواقع، meaning “the falling eagle”, etc.)


  • ADMIRAL (أميــــــــر الرحلة, meaning commander of the fleet, or literally “of the trip”) 
  • ADOBE (الطوب: meaning a “brick.” originally Arabic!)
  • ALCOVE (القبة: meaning “the vault”, or “the dome”)
  • AMBER (عنبر: Anbar, “ambergris.”)
  • ARSENAL (Do fans ofC. Arsenaltoday, including those living in the Arab world, know where the name of their favorite team came from? دار الصناعــــــــــــــــة : “manufacturing house”)
  • ASSASSIN (Just like the word MAFIA, it is of Arabic origin: It either comes from “حشَّــــــــــــــاشين”, referring to the medieval sect of the same name famous for the heavy hashish consumption by its knife-wielding members, or “العسَّاسيــــــــــــــــن”, meaning “the watchmen.”)
  • CALIBER (قـــــــالب: meaning “mold”) 
  • CANDY (from قندي, itself from Persian for “hard candy made by boiling cane sugar”)
  • CHECK (from صکّ, also from Persian meaning “letter of credit.” It would give the Chess expression “Checkmate”, from “الشيخ مات”, or “the Shaikh is dead.”)
  • COFFEE (قهوة: For long snubbed by Europeans as the “wine of the infidels”—that is, many centuries before the age of Starbucks and instant coffee!)
  • COTTON (قُطْـــــــــن)
  • GUITAR (just as LUTE, العود, a musical instrument known to Europeans through the Arabic قيثارة, itself possibly borrowed from a word of Ancient Greek.)
  • MASCARA (Just as with the English “masquerade” and the French “mascarade“, mascara comes from the Arabic word مسخرة, an event during which people wear masks, such as carnivals.) 
  • SAFARI (سفـــــــر: “travel”—As in Apple’s Safari web browser)
  • SASH (شــــــــاش.)
  • SOFA (الصُوفــــــــة)

SWAHILI (Comes from سواحــــــــــل: Plural of ساحــــــــــل, meaning a “coast.”)

  • TARIFF(تعاريـــــــــــــــف, plural of تعريـــــــــــــــفة, meaning a “fee”, or simply تعريـــــــــــــــف, as in “بطاقــــــــة التعريـــــــــــــــف“, meaning an “identity card.”)
  • Algebra is a widely used system in mathematics. It uses symbols, instead of numbers, to solve problems.
  • Alcohol comes from the Arabic word al kohlAlis the definite article in Arabic
  • Sherbet Sherbet was originally a Middle Eastern beverage made from fruit juice and sweetened water

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