German Words of Arabic Origin

German Language Coach; German Words of Arabic Origin

Like many languages, German has evolved to include words that originate from other languages; many of these are surprisingly derived from Arabic. Arabic words featured commonly in many Western languages and were most often introduced centuries ago.

However you prefer to drink it, ‘Kaffee’ derives from the Arabic ‘qahwa’. Coffee drinking originated in 15th century Yemen, and the word was introduced to most Western languages around 200 years later.

Developed through a few languages, ‘Aprikose’ (apricot) derives from the Arabic ‘al-barqūq’.

‘Babbaghā” is where ‘parrot’ originates from, which in German is ‘Papagei’ – not very far removed. The main difference is that the European ‘p’ replaced the Medieval ‘b’ phonic’.

Almost identical in spelling and pronunciation, ‘Al-kohl’ is the original Arabic word for ‘Alkohol’, or alcohol in English. Interestingly, the term ‘fine powder’ progressed through the centuries and became specifically a distilled spirit in the 18th century.

Both meanings of ‘Magazin’ (magazine) – the ammunition holder for a gun and the published ‘book’ – come from an Arabic word. ‘Makhāzin’ first meant ‘store’ (which is where the ammo receptacle got its name), but it didn’t have the alternative meaning until the English language introduced it in the 1600s.

There are so many derivatives of ‘Zucker’ that it is hard to pinpoint the origin. However, its earliest use was from Arabic, as ‘sukkar’, as medieval Arabs produced sugar on a vast scale.

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