Spanish Words

Spanish Words That Came From Arabic

Spanish Words carry with them a rich tapestry of influences, reflecting the diverse cultural history that has shaped the language we know today. One intriguing thread in this linguistic mosaic is the influence of Arabic. 

As we delve into the vibrant heritage of Spanish, it becomes evident that many words have their roots in the Arabic language, weaving a fascinating narrative of cultural exchange and shared history. 

Join us on a journey through the etymology of these captivating words as we uncover the hidden connections that bridge Spanish and Arabic.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

Short History of Arabic Influence on the Spanish Language

To appreciate the depth of Arabic influence on the Spanish language, we must traverse the corridors of history. The Iberian Peninsula, known as Al-Andalus during the medieval period, witnessed a remarkable cultural coexistence between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. This harmonious blend of civilizations significantly impacted the linguistic landscape, leaving an enduring imprint on Spanish vocabulary.

During the period of Islamic rule, which spanned over seven centuries, Arabic became a language of administration, science, and art. As a result, numerous Arabic words seamlessly integrated into the vernacular, influencing not only daily communication but also the realms of science, mathematics, and astronomy. The subsequent Reconquista and the expulsion of Muslims did not erase these linguistic ties; instead, they became an integral part of the Spanish language, serving as a testament to the enduring legacy of cross-cultural pollination.

This historical backdrop sets the stage for our exploration of twenty captivating words in Spanish that bear the unmistakable mark of their Arabic origins.

Read More: What Are The Differences Between Castilian Spanish And Latin American Spanish?

Spanish Words

20 Spanish Words That Came From Arabic

  1. Alcohol (Alcohol): Derived from the Arabic word “al-kuḥl,” which originally referred to a fine powder used as a cosmetic, the term evolved to denote the alcohol we know today.
  2. Azúcar (Sugar): The sweetness in our lives owes its name to the Arabic word “as-sukkar,” a testament to the Arab world’s significant contributions to sugar refinement.
  3. Ajedrez (Chess): The strategic game of kings, “ajedrez,” finds its roots in the Arabic “ash-shatranj,” reflecting the rich history of intellectual pursuits.
  4. Aceituna (Olive): Savor the Mediterranean flavor, as “aceituna” traces its origins to the Arabic “az-zaytūn.”
  5. Cifra (Cipher): The very concept of numeric representation owes its name to the Arabic “ṣifr,” a term that laid the foundation for mathematical notation.
  6. Jarra (Jar): Quench your thirst with a refreshing drink served in a “jarra,” a word inherited from the Arabic “jarra,” meaning a large earthenware vessel.
  7. Limón (Lemon): The citrus zing in “limón” hails from the Arabic “līmūn,” a testament to the culinary contributions from the Arab world.
  8. Tarifa (Tariff): This economic term has its roots in the Arabic “taʕārīf,” meaning a list of prices or tariffs.
  9. Guitarra (Guitar): The melodic charm of “guitarra” is deeply rooted in the Arabic “qīṭāra,” showcasing the enduring influence on musical expressions.
  10. Almohada (Pillow): Drift into dreams on a soft “almohada,” a word derived from the Arabic “al-makhāḍa.”
  11. Zanahoria (Carrot): The vibrant orange hue of “zanahoria” finds its linguistic roots in the Arabic “safūn.”
  12. Azulejo (Tile): Adorn your spaces with decorative “azulejos,” named after the Arabic word “az-zulayj,” referring to polished stones.
  13. Jarabe (Syrup): When sweetness meets medicine, it’s often in the form of “jarabe,” a term inherited from the Arabic “šarāb.”
  14. Arroz (Rice): The staple of countless dishes, “arroz,” has its origin in the Arabic “ar-ruzz,” reflecting the culinary legacy of Al-Andalus.
  15. Albahaca (Basil): Add flavor to your dishes with “albahaca,” a word derived from the Arabic “al-habaqa.”
  16. Naranja (Orange): The citrus delight of “naranja” is a direct homage to the Arabic “nāranj.”
  17. Azúl (Blue): The color “azúl” draws its name from the Arabic “lazaward,” reflecting the historical importance of vibrant pigments.
  18. Azafrán (Saffron): The golden spice, “azafrán,” carries the influence of the Arabic “za’faran,” a testament to the culinary sophistication of Al-Andalus.
  19. Atún (Tuna): The ocean’s bounty in your dish, “atún,” owes its name to the Arabic “attūn.”
  20. Rincón (Corner): Find a cozy nook in a “rincón,” a word that echoes the Arabic “runkun,” highlighting the importance of hidden corners in daily life.

Learn More Spanish!

From the bustling markets of Al-Andalus to the kitchens of contemporary Spain and Latin America, these words serve as bridges across time and space, connecting us to a shared heritage of knowledge, trade, and innovation. Whether it’s the soothing resonance of “alcohol” or the strategic elegance of “ajedrez,” each term carries a story, a cultural exchange that enriches the vibrancy of the Spanish language.

In the corners of our linguistic exploration, we find not just words but windows into a world where cultures converge, leaving an indelible mark on the languages we speak and the stories we tell.

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