Science is a field that witnessed pioneering advances during the glory ages of the Islamic civilization in the Arab World, advances that left their mark in more ways than one.
Traces of these advances can still be found today in many languages, especially English, in which a surprising number of words are of Arabic origin. These 9 words show how much of chemistry is originally from Arabic.
1. Alchemy and Chemistry – Al-Kimiya
The origin of the word chemistry is the word alchemy, and the origin of the word alchemy is the Arabic word "al-kimiya" which referred to the scientific origins of chemistry at that time and now literally means chemistry in Arabic.
2. Alkaline - Al-Qali
The Arabic word "al-qali," which referred to a material obtained from the calcined ashes of the glass-wort plant that the Arabs used to make soap and glass, is the origin of the late Middle English word alkali and subsequently the word alkaline.
3. Borax (sodium borate) and Boron - Buraq
The Arabic word "buraq," which referred to a fluxing agent used in soldering gold and silver, is the origin of the word borax that refers today to the chemical compound sodium borate. It's also the origin of the word boron that refers to the chemical element.
4. Benzoin and Benzene - Luban Jawi
The Arabic words "luban jawi" refers to a natural resin Arab merchants brought to the Middle East from Indonesia before it came to Europe where it was greatly mutated to the word benzoin. Benzoin resin was the source of benzoic acid that later created the organic compound benzene.
5. Azurite - Lazaward
The Arabic word "lawazward," which referred to a vivid blue rock used in manufacturing blue inks and makeup, is the origin of the word azure that today refers to a bright blue color and is the origin of the word for the copper mineral azurite.
6. Sodium - Suwwad
The Arabic word "suwwad," which referred to the saltwort plant, is the origin of the Middle English word soda for sodium carbonate and also the origin of the word sodium that refers to the chemical element today.
7. Realgar (Ruby Sulfur) - Rahj Al-Gar
The Arabic words "rahj al-gar," which referred to a substance used as a rodent poison and a red pigment, is the origin of the English word realgar, which today refers to an arsenic sulfide mineral commonly known as ruby sulfur.
8. Aniline - Annil
The Arabic word "annil," which referred to an indigo dye, is the origin of the English term aniline for a compound used in chemistry to manufacture dyes and drugs.
9. Natron - Natroon
The Arabic word "natroon," which referred to naturally occurring sodium carbonate, is the origin of the English word natron for hydrated sodium carbonate found in dried lake beds.