Spanish Words with Arabic Origins

by Vanessa Johnson on Thursday, May 02, 2019

The beginning of the holy month of Ramadan is just around the corner, and Muslims around the world will soon be fasting every day from dawn to sunset.

Although Catholicism is the most popular religion in Spain today, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, the Moors (a term used to describe the Muslim Arab and Berber conquerors of Spain) ruled parts of the Iberian Peninsula for almost 800 years. As a result, the Moorish influences in Spain are multifold and can be seen in customs, food, art, science, culture, and of course, the Spanish languages.

To celebrate this special time of the year, let’s have a look at the impact that Arabic, one of the languages spoken by the Moors, has had on Spanish. Click here to read this post in Spanish.

Here are just a few of the thousands of Spanish words with Arabic origins. Keep in mind that these words came from the Arabic spoken in Al-Andalus hundreds of years ago; Arabic, like all languages, has continued to evolve and change.  

Andalusian Arabic                            Spanish                                               English

aṭ-ṭūb                                                   adobe                                                  adobe

al-ḥabqa                                              albahaca                                              basil

al-bunduqa                                          albóndiga                                            meatball

al-jumra                                              alfombra                                              rug

al-ŷabr                                                álgebra                                                 algebra

al-mujjadda                                         almohada                                            pillow

as-sukkar                                            azúcar                                                  sugar

ar-ruzz                                                 arroz                                                    rice

bādinyana                                            berenjena                                            eggplant/aubergine

kitār                                                     guitarra                                               guitar

laymūn                                                limón                                                   lemon

nārinŷa                                                naranja                                                orange

law ša'a allah                                       ojalá                                                    hopefully

ŷarra                                                    jarra                                                     pitcher

isfinnāriyya                                         zanahoria                                             carrot

Thanks to the Arabic language for bringing these concepts to Spanish!


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