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30 Arabic Words of Persian Origin Posted by on Mar 18, 2018 in History, Pronunciation, Vocabulary

Arabic fraught with hundreds of foreign words since pre-Islamic times. This is because the Arab tribes at the time led a simple life and mingling with neighboring more civilized nations/empires, such as the Persians, the Romans, the Babylonians, and the Greek was inevitable.      In the course of their contact and dealings with these peoples, they had to borrow words from their respective languages for easier communication and sometimes for having no equivalents in Arabic.

Among the languages from the Arabs borrow is the Persian. Besides being close the Arabs geographically, the Persians used to visit and trade with the Arab metropolis of the time, and used Persian words to name things, which became common among local people. During the borrowing and adoption process, some words that included similar sounds as in Arabic were adopted as they are. Words that had sounds that did not exist in Arabic were slightly altered to suit the sound system of Arabic. It is worth noting that most the Persian words cited below are no longer used in Modern Persian. Besides, Modern Persian tends to adopt words that resemble Arabic words.

Following are 30 Arabic words of Persian origin:

1)  إِبْرِيْق ‘jug / kettle

It is from the Persian word آبزيز which means to pour water. In Farsi, it is used to refer to water container السَّطْل  or الدَّلْو ‘bucket.’

2)  أُسْتَاذ ‘teacher’

It is from the Persian word أُسْتَاد which means a teacher or an expert craftsman. In Arabic, the more accurate word is مُعَلِّم; however, it has a more restricted meaning. Therefore, أُسْتَاذ is more popular.

3)  بَاذِنْجَان ‘eggplant’

It is from the Persian word بَاذِنْكَان which is composed of باد that means جِنّ jinn and نِك which means مِنْقَار beak of a bird and its plural is نِكَان, so when put together باد + نكان, it becomes بَاذِنْكَان which means the beaks of jinn. The Persians borrowed it from Syriac.

4)  بَخْت ‘luck / fortune’

It is from the Persian بَخْت, borrowed without any alteration in pronunciation, i.e. it is articulated in Arabic in the same way. It means luck.

5)  بَرِيْد ‘post / mail’

This word is said to have been taken from the Persian verb بَرْدَن ‘to transport / move.’ Some linguists argue that it is taken from the Roman word veredus ‘the animal that carries mail.’

6)  بِطَاقَة ‘card / ID card’

It is from the Persian word بِتِك which means tag or label on which information of weight or price is written. It is said that the Persians borrowed it from Aramaic.

7)  تَّخْت ‘bedstead’

It is from the Persian word تَخْت, and is pronounced in Arabic in the same way. It means plank or board of wood. It is commonly used in the Levant, i.e. Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine.

8)  جَوْز ‘walnut’

It is from the Persian word گوْز, and the first letter / sound is pronounced as ج in Arabic, i.e. جَوْز. It means walnut.

9)  خِيَار ‘the cucumber’

It is from the Persian word خِيَار, and is pronounced in Arabic in the same way.

10)  دُسْتُور ‘constitution’

It is the book of the king’s law. If a combination to two Persian words: دَسْتَ ‘the rule/law’ and ور ‘the owner of’, that is the owner of laws, the king.

11)  دِيْن / دِيَانَة ‘religion’

It is from دِيْن ‘faith / believe.’ دَيْن with fatHah on the dal دَ, which means debt, is from borrowed from Greek.

12)  رَازِقي ‘type of grapes’

رَازقي in Persian is a type of grapes. In Arabic, it is the name of the same type of grape. This type of grapes is especially common in Yemen and some Gulf State.

13)  زَنْجَبِيْل ‘ginger’

It from شَنْگبِيْل, and in the process of Arabization the شَ becomes زَ and the گ becomes جَ, hence شَنْگبِيْل à زَنْجَبِيْل.

14)  شَتْم ‘cursing / swearing’

It is from سَتْم and is used to describe a person’s shortcomings.

15)  شَهْد ‘honey’

This word is borrowed from Persian without any alterations. It is the pure honey that has not been squeezed out of the beeswax.

16)  شُهْرَة ‘fame’

It means the path/way of the grandeur. It is taken from two Persian words: شَاه ‘the sultan/king’ and رَاه ‘the path/way.’

17)  شَّاي ‘tea’

It is from چای. The Persian چ, with three dots, is always Arabized to ش.

18)  صُنْدُوق ‘case, box’

It is from the Persian word صَنْدُوق. Some linguists argue you that it is borrowed from Russian by the Persians and then borrowed by the Arabs.

19)  صِهْر ‘daughter or sister’s husband’

It is from شَوْهَر which means the woman’s husband in Farsi.

20)  صَيْف ‘summer’

It is from the Persian سَيِيْدبَرْ which is a compound word, composed of سَيِيْد which means white and بَرْ which means on/over. The first part undergoes a slight modification and becomes صَيْف in Arabic

21)  ضَنْك ‘distress’

It is from the Persian word دَنْك which means the reckless and perplexed due to pain and disorder.

22)  طَازَج ‘fresh’

It is from تَازَه which means tender/fresh.

23)  طَرْبُوش ‘fez/hat’

It is a compound word from سَرْ which means head and بُوْش which means غِطَاء.

24)  غَوْغَاء ‘riffraff’

It is from the Persian word غَوْغَاء which means too much noise and conflict.

25)  فَخّ ‘trap’

It is from فَخْ which is an instrument or a tool used for hunting.

26)  فُلّ ‘Arabian jasmine’

It is a horticultural plant of small white circular flowers that has a fragrant smell. It is Arabicized from the Persian word پـَلَة.

27)  فِنْجَان ‘cup’

It is from the Persian word پـَنْكَــان, a cup.

28)  فُوْل ‘fava beans’

It is from فُوْل which also known in Farsi as بَاقلا.

29)  قَلْعَة ‘castle’

It is from the Persian word كَلاَتَ, usually the castle that is located on top of a mountain or hill.

30)  كَأْس ‘drinking glass’

It is from the Persian word كَاسَه. Some linguist argue that it is taken from Semitic languages.

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About the Author: Ibnulyemen اِبْنُ اليَمَن

Marhaban! I am from Yemen. I am a language teacher. I teach English and Arabic. In this blog, I will be leading you through Arabic language learning in a sequential fashion. I will focus on Modern Standard Arabic. To learn more, you can also visit my website Ibnulyemen Arabic or my facebook page.


Comments:

  1. Patricia Houmdi:

    Interesting list! Don’t forget barnaamaj (Arabic) and barnameh (Farsi)

  2. William Beeman:

    The Arabic for “festival” is مهرجان which derives from the Zoroastrian/Persian مهرگان which is a festival celebrating the autumn harvest and the Zoroastrian “angel,” Mithra (Mehr) in Persian. مهر is also one of the months of the Persian solar year corresponding to September/October.

    • Ibnulyemen:

      @William Beeman thanks for explaining. to further clarify, مهرگان in Persian is a compound word composed of مهر which means passion and affection and گان mean connected or mutual, mutual affection.