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Gerald Erichsen

Arabic Words Abundant in Spanish

By November 12, 2012

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Most Spanish words come from Latin. But thousands of them come from Arabic as a legacy of the Moorish invasion of 711 CE. This infusion of Arabic is one of the more interesting features of Spanish etymology.

I've made some corrections and additions to a list of the most common Arabic words in Spanish, among them the many al- words such as algodón (cotton) and álgebra.

It's not unusual when a language imports words for them to include words for food (such as espinaca, spinach), animals (such as alcatraz, pelican) and things specific to the culture of a language (such as jaque mate, checkmate). But Arabic words in Spanish also include ones for everyday concepts and things such as loco (crazy), hasta (until) and rubio (blond). Other common words from Arabic are as varied as café (coffee) and sorbete (sherbet), which also have made their way into English.

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