How Other Languages Borrowed Words From Arabic

How Other Languages Borrowed Words From Arabic

Did you know that Arabic has influenced other languages like English, Spanish, and French? Of course, one could totally understand how Arabic has had a major linguistic influence on other non-Arab Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Turkey or Iran because Arabic is the only language of the Quran, so naturally  the influence of the Arabic language has had a strong influence on the language of non-Arab countries where Islam is the main religion. Let’s take Turkey, for example. You may know that, geographically speaking, Turkey covers an area that is half on the European continent and half on the Asian continent. The national language is Turkish, but because its main religion is Islam, the Arabic language has been preserved through the Quran, thereby directly influencing the Turkish language.

So, how did Arabic expand its influence so deep into the languages of the West? Many centuries ago, the main language of politics and commerce was internationally known as Arabic. When the Islamic Empire grew into the Mediterranean region sometime between the 8th and 12th centuries, Arabic became hugely influential among other cultures.

The following are the top three languages that some words from the Arabic language has seeped into, including a few borrowed words examples:

Influence Of Arabic On English


English borrowed some words from Arabic through other European languages like Spanish. Also, words and information were transmitted by soldiers returning home from the crusades. One thing needs to be noted: the Arab world was a great global contributor to the sciences of astrology, alchemy, mathematics and medicine. Therefore, it was only natural that some of the technical terms are borrowed words in English, but not limited to only those technical terms.


Sugar in Arabic: sukkar (السكر)

Cotton in Arabic: quṭn (قطن)

Algebra in Arabic: al-jabr (الجبر)

Alcohol in Arabic: al-kuhūl (الكحول)

Cave in Arabic: kahif (كهف)

Gazelle in Arabic: ghazal (غزال)

Lemon in Arabic: limun (ليمون)

Guitar in Arabic: ghytar (غيتار)


Influence Of Arabic On Spanish


Spanish has borrowed many words from the Arabic language due to 800 years of Arab dominion in the region, and Arabic seems to have had the more of an impact on the Spanish language called Catalan than on any of the Spanish dialects spoken in the other regions in Spain. The Arabs even called the Iberian Peninsula as al-andalus, a word which exists even in present-day Spain to denote a community there where the people are known as the Andalusians.


Aubergine (albergínia) in Arabic: badhanjan (باذنجان)

Bathrobe (barnús) in Arabic: barns alhamam(برنس الحمام)

Olive (aceituna) in Arabic: zaytun (زيتون)

Waterwheel (nòria) in Arabic: naeura (ناعورة)

Artichoke (cachofa) in Arabic: kharshuf (خرشوف)


Influence of Arabic in French


At some point France colonized the region known as Maghreb, a region in the north-west area of Africa mostly consisting of the countries of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania. French became the second language of these colonized regions, so it was only natural that some Arabic words permeated the language. You can see the French words below that derived from Arabic:

Apricot (abricot) in Arabic: barqūq (أَلْبَرْقُوق)

Magistrate (alcade) in Arabic: al-qāḍi (القاض)

Country (colloquial French bled) in Arabic: balad (بلد)

Tariff (tariff) in Arabic: taerifa (تعريفة)

Technically speaking, any Romance language will have Arabic influences due to conquering of the European empires within the region. You can find words of Arabic even in the Romanian, Portuguese, German and Italian languages.

We at kaleela.com believe that the study of languages can be fascinating as you learn how they came about, how they influenced other regions and how they have evolved over time. Surely, we can all agree that the Arabic language has made great contributions to many other languages, cultures and sciences.