We don't often think about the origins of the words we use everyday to refer to the objects around us. That's why it might be surprising to many people that many English words for common objects are originally Arabic.
Just as many scientific and mathematical English terms have Arabic origins, so do many English words for common objects we encounter in our daily lives. Here are 9 examples.
1. Jar - Jarra
The Arabic word "jarra", which referred to a container made of pottery that is still used today, is the origin of the French jarre which entered English as jar in the 16th century.
2. Loofah - Lufa
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The Egyptian Arabic word "luffa", which referred to a tropical plant that was cultivated in Egypt at the time, entered English to also refer to the plant until it became the word loofah to refer to the bath sponge in the 19th century.
3. Magazine - Makhzan
The Arabic word "makhzan", which means storehouse, is the origin of the the Italian word magazine. It then became the French word magasin and then entered English as magazine in the 16th century.
4. Mattress - Matrah
The Arabic word "matrah", which referred to a cushion or carpet to lie on, entered Italian as matratium and various other variations. It then entered English as mattress in the 14th century, referring to a padded blanket to lie on.
5. Sofa - Suffa
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The Arabic word "suffa", which referred to a dais with rugs and cushions used at the time for dining, entered English through French as sofa in the 17th century.
6. Jumper - Jubba
The Arabic word "jubba", which referred to an outer garment, is the origin of the English word jump that referred to a short coat and later became the word jumper in the 19th century.
7. Cotton - Qutn
The Arabic word "qutn", which refers to cotton, is the origin of the old French word coton that later entered English as cotton in the 13th century. The fabric was rare in Europe until it was imported from the Arab world.
8. Sequin - Sikka
The Arabic word "sikka", which referred to a coin die used in the manufacturing of coins and also referred to the place where they were manufactured, is the origin of the Italian word zecca. It entered English as sequin in the 16th century to refer to a Venetian gold coin before it referred to the small metal pieces used now on clothing.
9. Gauze - Qazz
The Arabic word "qazz", which referred to any type of silk, is the origin of the French word gaze that referred to a high-quality and somewhat transparent fabric such as silk. That word later entered English as gauze in the 16th century to refer to the thin fabric now used in making bandages and cloths.
However, some sources claim the word originates from the Arabic word "Gaza" which refers to the Palestinian city, but "qazz" appears to make more sense given the present meaning of the word.