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Spanish Words with Arabic Origin

Did you know there are approximately 4,000 Spanish words with Arabic origins?


The influence of Arabic on the Spanish language is due to the Arab rule in the Iberian Peninsula between 711 & 1492 AD, notably in Al-Andalus (الأَنْدَلُس)


Here are 20 Spanish words with Arabic etymology…

Image credit exploredbymarta on IG


1/ Ojalá (Hopefully/Let’s hope so) –

from the Arabic word inshālla (ان شاء الله), meaning ‘God-willing’ or ‘if God wills’


2/ Naranja (Orange) –

from the Arabic word nāranja (نارنج), derived from the Persian word nārang (نارنگ) referring to the bitter orange fruit


3/ Hasta (Until) -

The Spanish word for “until” is the result of the convergence of an Arabic preposition with a Latin expression. Andalusian Arabic used the preposition “hattá,” from classical Arabic “ḥattà” (حتّى), meaning “up to this point.” This merged with Latin “ad ista,” meaning “up to that,” to form “hasta.”


4/ Jirafa (Giraffe) –

from zarāfah (زرافة)


5/ Sandía (Watermelon) -

The word “sandía” comes from the Arabic “sindíyya” (سندية), which means “from Sind.” Sind is a region in Pakistan from where this fruit was introduced to the eastern Arabs.


6/ Mezquino (Poor, Petty, Stingy) -

“Mezquino,” which translates to “petty,” “poor,” or “stingy” in English, comes from Andalusian Arabic “miskín,” and this from classical Arabic “miskīn” (مِسْكِين). The sense of “stingy” developed in the early modern period.


7/ Limón (Lemon) –

from the Arabic word limun (ليمون), derived from Persian limu (لیمو)


8/ Aceituna (Olive) –

from az-zaytūn (الزَّيْتُون)


9/ Jarabe (Syrup) -

“Jarabe” comes from Classical Arabic “šarāb” (شَرَاب), pronounced in Andalusian Arabic as “šaráb,” both meaning “drink.” Initially, this word was written in Spanish as “xarabe” and pronounced as “sharabe.”


10/ Algodón (Cotton) –

from al-quton (القطن)


11/ Almohada (Pillow) –

from the Arabic word al-mikhaddah (المخدة), meaning cushion or pillow


12/ Barrio (Neighborhood) –

derived from the Arabic word barri (بَرِّيّ)‎ which originally meant ‘outside [of the city]’


13/ Berenjena (eggplant) –

from badenjān (باذنجان)


14/ Guitarra (Guitar) –

from gitara (غيتارة)


15/ Albaricoque (Apricot) –

Derived from the Arabic word for ‘plum’, al-barquq (اَلْبَرْقُوق‎)


16/ Albahaca, Albaca (Basil) -

The word for basil in Spanish comes from the Andalusian Arabic alḥabáqa, which comes from Classical Arabic “ḥabaqah.” (احبق), the name given by Arabs to aromatic plants used in cooking and medicine.


17/ Momia (Mummy) -

The word “momia” comes from Arabic “mūmiya” (مُومِيَاء), which was a type of wax used by ancient Egyptians to preserve bodies during the mummification process.


18/ Aldea (Village) -

The Spanish word “aldea” comes from Andalusian Arabic “aḍḍáy‘a,” which in turn comes from Classical Arabic “ḍay‘ah” (ضَيْعَة), meaning “farm.”

19/ Tabaco (Tobacco) -

The Spanish word “tabaco” stems from the Classical Arabic “ṭub[b]āq” (طُبَّاق), a term that was originally used, before the discovery of the Americas, for medicinal herbs like the olive herb and eupatorium that caused dizziness or numbness.


20/ Bellota (Acorn) -

The word for the name of this oak tree nut, beloved by squirrels, entered Spanish through Andalusian Arabic as “ballúṭa,” which came from Classical Arabic “ballūṭa” (بَلُّوط).


Sources of Information


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