Arabic loanwords: 50+ French words like café borrowed from Arabic

Here are 50 surprisingly common words you thought were French but are actually borrowed Arabic loanwords.

French words that are Arabic loan words
French words that are Arabic loan words

Did you know there are many Arabic words borrowed from other languages? In the French language, many French words you think of as French such as café and aubergine (eggplant), are actually Arabic loanwords or have Arabic origins, either directly or indirectly through other languages. It’s true! The 50-plus French words borrowed from Arabic on this list are all used in everyday French conversations, but most people are unaware of their Arabic origins.

50 favourite French Words You Never Knew Were Borrowed from Arabic loanwords

French words that are borrowed from the Arabic language

If you’re a language lover like me, you may already know that there are many English words like t-shirt, shopping, and parking which have made their way into the French language.

But what you may not know is that everyday French-sounding words like “aubergine” (eggplant), “café” (coffee), and even “cafard” (cockroach) are all Arabic loanwords, meaning they were borrowed from the Arabic language.

One of the reasons for this Arabic and French connection is the fact that France was heavily influenced by Arab culture during the Middle Ages. At that time, Arab scholars were highly regarded for their knowledge of science, philosophy, and literature, and their works were translated into many languages, including French.

As a result, many Arabic words made their way into the French language, where they have remained ever since.

Pretty fascinating when you think about it!

All in all, some linguists believe there may be as many as 600 French words with Arabic origins.

But that’s nothing compared to the number of Arabic loanwords in the Spanish language.

During a period known as the Islamic Golden Age, which lasted from the 8th century to the 15th century, Arabic became the dominant language of the ruling class in the Iberian Peninsula, which included what is now modern-day Spain and Portugal.

The Islamic rule heavily influenced the local dialects, as well as the culture, food, and customs of the region. 

Did you know that roughly 8% or 4 000 words in the Spanish language were originally derived from Arabic? Portuguese has around 1,000-1,500 words with Arabic roots.

The evolution of Frenchified Arabic loanwords

Some Arabic loanwords entered the French language directly, while others took a more circuitous route, first going through other languages, such as Latin, Italian or Spanish, before being borrowed into French.

Borrowed Arabic words were changed to sound more French

Over time, many of the Arabic loanwords evolved to sound more French than their Arabic origins. Take “café” for instance, which comes from the Arabic word “qahwa.” Most French speakers are not even aware that they are using Arabic loanwords in their daily conversations.

Different meaning than the original Arabic loanword

The meaning of certain Arabic loanwords has strayed from their original definitions. Take the French word for alcohol “Alcool” from the Arabic word “al-kuhl” which originally referred to a type of eyeliner.

What is a loanword (loan word?)

Now before we move onto the list of Arabic loanwords hiding in your favourite French words, let’s briefly go over what a loanword is and the hidden secrets they can reveal if you know their etymology.

what is a loanword?

A loanword is simply a word borrowed from one language and used in another, left untranslated. This sometimes happens because it doesn’t exist in the borrower’s language or because it expresses a concept that can’t be easily expressed with existing words. 

You probably already know a few untranslated loanwords taken from other languages, such as sushi, tapas, and pizza.

Each of these words has a meaning in its original language, which is sometimes forgotten or not known in its adopted language. 

By understanding where a word comes from (its etymology), we can often get clues about its original meaning and how it evolved over time. We can also see how different languages and cultures influenced one another and how words have travelled from one language to another.


The Japanese word sushi (すし) needs no explanation. Although most people think that the word “sushi” has to do with raw fish, it actually means “vinegared rice” or “sour rice” in ancient Japanese due to the fact that the rice is usually moistened with rice vinegar. 


Then there’s the Italian word Pizza whose origins are debated. Some believe it may have originated from the Greek word “pitta” (bran bread.) Another theory suggests that it could have come from an ancient German language spoken in northern Italy called Langobardic, specifically from the word “bizzo” (bite).


Another thing to keep in mind is that when we borrow foreign words and use them as loan words, we usually don’t change them.

However, we might say and pronounce them differently with different inflections.

For instance, here is how pizza is phonetically pronounced in three languages.

  • Pizza in Italian:  /ˈpid dza/ with an emphasis on the “pid” making it sound more like /peeeeeed- dza/
  • Pizza in French:  /ˈpid dza/ sounds like the Italian pronunciation but without the stretched-out “eeeee” sound. 
  • Pizza in English  /ˈpit. tsa/ has a definite “T” sound.

List of Arabic loanwords borrowed into the French language:

I’ve grouped these borrowed Arabic words into logical groups, such as food, spices, animals etc.

(Many of the Arabic words in this list have the prefix Al, which just means “the”)

So, what are some of these common French words that are actually Arabic loanwords?


5 French drink-related Arabic loanwords

the French word café is an Arabic loan word borrowed into the French language

Alcool – (Alcohol) – الكحول (al-kuhul):

 The word alcohol in English and French which we know as an alcoholic beverage, was borrowed into Latin and then borrowed by the French and other European languages.  

The term comes from “al-kuhul,” the Arabic word for antimony sulphide.

Antimony sulphide or al-kuhul  originally referred to a fine metallic cosmetic powder middle eastern women used as eye makeup in ancient times.

The term evolved and broadened to include any substance  made similarly by vaporizing a solid and then allowing the vapour to condense, such as alcohol (distilled spirits.)

Today, “alcool” refers to any substance containing ethanol, produced through fermenting sugars with yeast to create alcoholic beverages.

Café – (Coffee) – قهوة (qahwa):

The French word for “coffee” may have been borrowed from the Arabic “qahwa,” or Turkish “kahevh”. In Arabic,  “qahwa” initially referred to a type of fermented wine made from coffee berries which were roasted and brewed with water. When the word was adopted into French café, it was no longer a fermented wine.

However, some people disagree over the origins of the word because of its original origins, which is the Kaffa Province of southwestern Ethiopia, considered the birthplace of coffee. Ethiopians are said to have been the first to realize the energizing effect of coffee. 

It quickly spread throughout the Arab world, where it became a popular beverage and was traded extensively. So  it’s possible that the word café, coffee and even the Arabic word Qawa is derived from Kaffa, the 

Carafe – (Carafe/ jug / pitcher )- غرافة (gharafa):

When you ask the server to bring a pitcher of water to the table in France, you ask them to bring you “Une carafe d’eau.”

The French, word “carafe” was borrowed from the Italian “caraffa,” or Spanish “garrafa,” which most likely came from the Arabic “gharafa” a large ladle-like drinking cup,” or Persian “qarabah,” a large flagon.

Limonade – (Lemonade) – ليمون (laymūn):

The word “lemonade” comes from the Arabic laymūn, which means “lemon.”

Sirop – (Syrup) – شراب (sharāb or sarab):

The French word for “syrup” comes from the medieval Latin sirōpus, which came from the Arabic word for a beverage.  

7 French Food words of Arabic origins

Abricot – (Apricot) – البرقوق (al-barqūq):

Interesting peach of a fact: Did you know that the 16th-century word for apricot in English used to be” abrecock” from middle French “aubercot” which became “abricot” in modern French?

The French borrowed the Spanish word “albaricoque” and Catalan word “albercoc,” which got their word from the Arabic word  (al-barqūq,) “the plums.”

But Arabic borrowed their word from the Byzantine Greeks βερικοκκίᾱ (berikokkíā, “apricot tree”), who in turn took the late Greek word πραικόκιον (praikókion, “apricot”) who in turn took it from Latin persica “peach” “praecocia. “

Phew, what a peachy history.

Artichaut – (artichoke) – الخرشوفة (al-hursufa) or (al-ḵaršūfa)

The French word for artichoke took a while to get to France.

al-kharshūfa comes from the now-extinct medieval language called Andalusian Arabic, spoken mainly in Spain and Portugal.

The word then became éalcarchofa in old Spanish. From there, it spread and became éarticioccoé and éarcicioffoé in Italian, écarxof éin Catalan, écarchofaé in Catalan, and finally, éartichauté in French. In fact, almost every language’s word for artichoke comes from Arabic.

Aubergine – (Eggplant) – الباذنجان (al-bāḏinjān):

The term “eggplant” comes from the Arabic al-bāḏinjān, which refers to the fruit.

Amande – (Almond) – اللوز (al-lūz):

The French word “Amande” comes from the Arabic word “al-lūz,” which initially referred to both the almond tree and its fruit.

The term was borrowed into Spanish as “almendra” and then into Old French as “alemande.” Over time, the “L” was omitted from the old French word, which became Amande in modern French. 

The almond has been cultivated in the Middle East for thousands of years and was introduced to Europe during the Middle Ages.

Massepain – (Marzipan) – مرصبان   (Marçabén or  marṭabān):

The origins of the French word for Marzipan (Massepain) is believed to have been borrowed from either the Italian “marzapane” or German “marzipan,” which borrowed the word from either Persian “martabān” or Arabic “marṭabān” which means spice-box in Arabic.

Marzipan is very popular in Europe, especially in Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, and France. Most western people think of Mazipan as a sweet confection made with ground almonds, powdered sugar and sometimes egg whites or almond extract that are shaped and painted to resemble fruits, animals, and even flowers. However, in the Middle East, Marzipan is also used in savoury dishes, often combined with meats, spices, and fruits to create complex dishes. 

Orange – (Orange) – النارنج (an-nāranj):

Another word that took a long circuitous journey is the word for the orange, the fruit and the colour. It entered French via Spanish and Italian, both of which got the word from the Arabic nāranj, which in turn came from the Persian “nārang.” But the Persian language actually borrowed the word from Sanskrit नारङ्ग nāraṅgaḥ “orange tree.”

Pastèque – (Watermelon) – بطيخ (baṭīkh):

The French word “Pastèque” comes from the Arabic “baṭīkh,” which means melon.

Watermelon is believed to have originated in Africa and has been cultivated for thousands of years. Documentation of watermelon has even been found in ancient Egyptian tombs and was also popular in ancient Greece and Rome. From there, the fruit was introduced to other parts of Europe and eventually made its way to the Americas by European settlers.

Riz – (Rice )- رُز” (ruzz):

The French word for rice, “riz,” was borrowed from the Italian word “riso,” which may have been borrowed from the Arabic word “رُز” (ruzz).

Arab traders and scholars brought rice back to the Middle East after travelling to China and other parts of Asia. By the 14th century, the word “riz” became part of the French language, and over time, French cuisine adapted to incorporate rice into various dishes, including pilafs, risottos, and rice puddings. A famous rice cultivated in France comes from the Camargue region of France near Montpellier. 

5 surprising French spice names that originate from Arabic

French has borrowed may Arabic words for spices including cumin

Cumin – (Cumin) – كمون (kammūn):

The word “cumin” comes from the Arabic kammūn, which refers to the seeds of the cumin plant. Cumin is a spice that has been used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine for centuries and was introduced to Europe during the Middle Ages.

Coriandre – (Coriander) – كزبرة (kuzbara):

The word “coriander” comes from the Arabic “kuzbara,” which refers to the coriander plant. The spice has been used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and South Asian cuisine for centuries and was introduced to Europe during the Middle Ages.

Miel – (Honey) – مِلّ (mil)  مَالَ‎ (māla).:

The Arabic word “mil,” originally referred to honey produced by bees.

Honey has been used as a sweetener and a medicine for thousands of years and was known to ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians and the Greeks.

Safran – (Saffron) – زعفران (za’faran):

The word “saffron” comes from the Arabic “za’faran,” which refers to a spice made from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus. The Arabic term for saffron was borrowed into Spanish as “azafrán” and then into Old French as “safran.”

Sucre – (Sugar) – سكر (sukkar):

The French word for “sugar” comes from Old Italian “zucchero,” which itself was derived from the Arabic sukkar, meaning “sugar.” “Sukkar” was borrowed from several languages, including Persian and Sanskrit, before being introduced to Europe by the Arabs during the Middle Ages.

4 Animals and wildlife words in French borrowed from Arabic:

 (Gazelle) an Arabic loanword

The French words for certain animals and bugs might sound French, but in fact, they come from the Arabic language. Here are the most surprising French words that have roots tied to the Arabic language. 

Cafard (cockroach) – كافر (kafir):

“Kafir” in Arabic, meaning “infidel” or “unbeliever,” was used as an insult by Arabs against Europeans and later adopted by the French to refer to a disgusting cockroach. 

Gazelle – (Gazelle) – غزال (ghazāl):

A gazelle is a type of antelope which Arab people traditionally hunted, but later became a symbol associated with female beauty in Arabic literature. The Arab word for this beautiful creature, “ghazāl” first entered the Old Spanish language, then Old French as “Gazel” and later became Gazelle in modern French. From there, the word travelled to the Americas in the 1600s. 

Girafe (giraffe)  زرافة (zarāfa):

The Italians borrowed the Arabic word “zarāfa” as “giraffa” and then the French as giraffe.

Interesting fact! Before the Giraffe became known as a giraffe, it was called a “camélopard” (Camel Leopard) from the Latin “camelopardus,” a contraction of “camelus” (camel) because of the long neck and “pardus” (leopard) because of the spots covering its body.

Safari – (Safari) – س (safara):

The word Safari which we now know to mean “an expedition to observe or hunt animals in their natural habitat,” became an English word before it became a French one via Swahili as “safari,” which was borrowed from the Arabic “Safara,” which means “travel.”

3 French Botany words you thought were French but are really Arabic

rFench Botany words you thought were French but are really Arabic

Jardin – (Garden) – جنة (janna):

From the Arabic janna, which means “paradise.”

This reflects the importance of gardens in Islamic culture, where they are often associated with paradise and the afterlife. The word was first borrowed into Old French as “jart” or “gardin” and later evolved into the modern French term “jardin.”

Jasmin – (Jasmine) – ياسمين (yāsmīn):

Yāsmīn refers to the fragrant flower name in Arabic. The word was first borrowed into Old French as “jasmin” and has remained essentially unchanged.

Jasmine is native to the Middle East and is widely used in perfumes and aromatherapy. It is also used in tea and cooking in some cultures.

Oranger – (Orange tree) – نارنج (nāranj):

Initially, the Arabic word “nāranj,” referred to the bitter orange tree and its fruit. The term was borrowed into Spanish as “naranja” and then into Old French as “orenge.” 

5 of the most important Mathematics & technology terms that have Arabic origins

The term algorithm comes from the name of a 9th century Persian mathematician Al-Khwārizmī

Most people are unaware of just how much  Islamic civilization contributed to science, mathematics, and technology. Nevertheless, traces of their contribution are everywhere, including hidden in the etymology of certain words we use in French, English, and many other languages.

Here are the most notable French mathematic and technology words of Arabic origins. 

Algorithme – (Algorithm – الخوارزمية (al-Khawarizmiya):

You can thank a 9th-century Persian mathematician and scientist named Muhammad for developing the concept of algorithms, which has ultimately been used in everything from Google search to the driving force behind self-learning AI technology. 

The word “algorithm” comes from Muhammad’s last name, “al-Khwarizmi.” His works were then translated into Latin and other languages, including French.

Algèbre – (Algebra – الجبر (al-jabr):

The French word “Algèbre ” comes from the Arabic “al-jabr,” which means “the reunion of broken parts.”

Mathematician al-Khwarizmi, after which the term algorithm is named, is also credited with introducing the concept of algebra to the Islamic world. Al-Jabar is the name of his landmark book, which established algebra as an independent discipline. 

Tarif – (Tariff) – تعريفة (taʿrīfah):

The word “tariff” comes from the Arabic taʿrīfah, which means “definition” or “list of prices.”

Chiffre (number) – صِفْر (sifr):

The Arabic word “sifr” meaning “zero” or “empty,” was borrowed into medieval Latin as “zephirum” or “cifra,” which gave rise to the word “chiffre” in French. 

Zéro – (Zero) – صفر (sifr):

The word “zero” has the same Arabic root as the French word “chiffre.”

Arabic sifr, which means “empty” or “nothing,” was borrowed into medieval Latin as “zephirum” or “cifra,” The Italians borrowed the Latin “zephirum,” which became “zefiro” and then by the French as zéro. The concept of zero was developed in India and passed through the Arabic numeral system. The zero concept was introduced to Europe by Arab scholars during the Middle Ages. 

7  French terms in Medicine, Science, Nature & Astronomy borrowed from Arabic

The French word for Almanac "Almanach" is a borrowed word from Arabic

Alcaline – (Alkaline) – القلوي (al-qalawī):

The word “Alcaline ” comes from the Arabic al-qalawī, which means “ashes of saltwort.”

The term refers to a basic substance with a pH value greater than 7 on the pH scale.

Alchimie – (Alchemy) – الخيمياء (al-khīmiyā’):

The word “alchemy” comes from the Arabic al-khīmiyā,’ which refers to a form of chemistry that was practiced in the Middle Ages.

The Arabic term comes from the Greek word khēmeia, which means “art of transmuting metals.” The practice of alchemy involved attempts to transform base metals into noble metals, such as gold or silver, as well as efforts to find a universal elixir of life.

Almanach (Almanac) –  المناخ  (al-manākh):

The Arabic term originally referred to an Arabic astronomical table or calendar.

The word was introduced to Europe through medieval Arabic astronomy and astrology texts and later adapted to refer to annual publications containing information like calendars, astronomical data, weather predictions, and other useful information.

Ambre (Amber) – عنبر  (‘anbar):

The Arabic word “anbar” was borrowed from Arabic into medieval Latin as “Ambra,” and then into French as “amber.”

Amber is a fossilized resin. Since ancient times, it’s been highly valued for its use in jewelry and perfumes. During the 17th century, using amber in perfumery became popular, which lead to the word being adopted into the French language to refer to a type of perfume made with amber.

Elixir – (Elixir) – الإكسير (al-iksīr):

The word “elixir” comes from the Arabic al-iksīr, which means “the philosopher’s stone.”

The concept of an elixir that could turn base metals into gold and grant eternal life was a central idea in alchemy.

Laiton – (Brass) – لاصقون (laṣquwn):

The French word “laiton” comes from the Arabic “laṣquwn,” which refers to a type of alloy made of copper and zinc.

Zénith – (Zenith) – “سَمْت الرأس” (samt al-ra’s):

The French word “zénith” comes from the Arabic term “samt al-ra’s,” which means “direction of the head” or “path above the head.”

The term was originally used in astronomy to refer to the highest point in the sky directly above an observer. It was borrowed into medieval Latin as “cenit,” From there, it entered various European languages, including French. Today, “zénith” in French refers to the highest point or culmination of something, whether a career, an event, or an achievement.

2 Arabic loanwords for mythical creatures

Ghoul and Genie are both Arabic loan words in English, French and many other languages.

Génie – (Genie) – جِنٌّ (jinnũ): 

The French word for Genie entered the French language through a 1600s French translation of “Arabian Nights,” taking the Arabic word for “tutelary spirit” Jinni or jinnũ, the plural form of Jinn and turning it into the French Génie. 

The Arabic word, Jinn refers to “someone possessed by a spirit, crazy.”

Goule – (Ghoul) – غول (ghūl ):

In Bedouin Arabic folklore, the “ghul” is said to be an evil demon-like being or monstrous humanoid being that feeds on human flesh. A male ghoul is referred to as “ghul” while a female is called “ghulah.” 

The word Goule entered the French language through the French translation by Antoine Galland of the Arabic text “The Thousand and One Nights.” In the original Arabic version, the Ghouls were nasty flesh-eating tricksters who kidnapped victims and lured lustful men by somehow transforming themselves into beautiful women. Antoine Galland’s French translation took liberties and changed the story so that the ghouls lived in cemeteries robbing graves and feeding on corpses.

3 Arabic loanwords hidden in French Military words

amiral, French for admiral is borrowed from Arab language

Amiral – (Admiral) – أمير البحر (amir-al-bahr):

The Arabic term, “amir-al-bahr, which means “commander of the sea,” was introduced to medieval Europe by Arab navigators and sailors. The Arabic word was first borrowed into Spanish as “almirante” and then into Old French as “amiral.” In modern French, the term is still used to refer to a high-ranking naval officer.

Arsenal (Arsenal) –  دار الصناعة (dār as-sināʿah):

The Arabic word originally referred to a workshop or factory and was borrowed into several European languages, including French, Italian, and Spanish, during the medieval period. In French, the word evolved to refer specifically to a military workshop or armoury where weapons and other equipment were manufactured, stored, and repaired.

The most famous Arsenal in France is the Arsenal of Paris, which was originally established in the 16th century and served as a major center of military production until the 19th century.

Assassin – (Assassin) – حشاشين (ḥashshāshīn):

The word “assassin” comes from the Arabic ḥashshāshīn, which refers to a group of people who carried out political assassinations in the medieval period.

4 French words related to Music and Arts of Arabic origins

Fanfare - (Fanfare) Arabic loanword

Fanfare – (Fanfare) – فنفار (fanfār):

The word “fanfare” which means showy activity meant to draw attention to something like a marching band, is “fanfār.” This Arabic loanword refers to a type of military trumpet and entered French via Spanish and Italian.

Guitare – (Guitar) – قيثارة (qīthārah):

Believe it or not, “guitar” is an Arabic loanword from the Arabic qīthārah, which is a stringed musical instrument.

Luth – (Lute) – العود (al-‘ūd):

The word “lute” comes from the Arabic al-‘ūd, which means “the wood.” The lute is a stringed musical instrument that originated in the Arab world.

Tambour – (Drum) – طُنْبُور‎ (ṭunbūr):

The Arabic word for drum, “ṭunbūr” which the French language borrowed may have been influenced by the Persian word for “tabir.”

3 surprising French textile words borrowed from Arabic:

Gauze is one of many Arabic loanwords borrowed into the French language

Coton – (Cotton) – قطن (qatn):

The Arabic loanword “qatn” originally referred to a type of fabric made from cotton fibres.

Cotton fabric production was widespread in ancient India, and the Arabic term was borrowed into various European languages, including French as “cotton” and Italian as “cotone.” 

Gaze – (Gauze) – قزاز (qazza):

The French word “gaze” from Arabic “qazza,” is an Arabic loanword which originally referred to a type of silk fabric.

The fabric was produced in the Middle East and was known for its fine, sheer quality. The Arabic term was then borrowed into medieval Latin as “gaza,” From there, it entered various European languages, including French. Over time, the term’s meaning evolved to include any fine, sheer fabric with a gauzy texture, regardless of its composition. Today, “gaze” in French refers to gauze, a thin, transparent fabric commonly used for medical dressings and other purposes.

2 Arabic loanwords for clothing which became part of the French language

Jaquette (jacket) Arabic loanwords

Jupe (skirt) – جوبة (juba):

The French word “jupe” is another surprising Arabic loanword from Arabic “juba” which is a long North African and Middle East robe or cloak typically made of wool worn by both men and women.

 Through trade and conquest during the medieval period, the garment was adopted by women in Europe, where it was modified to create the skirt we know today. The first recorded use of the word “jupe” in French dates back to the 14th century and has been used ever since.

Jaquette (jacket) – جكٌ (jakk):

The original Arabic word, meaning “chainmail,” was used to refer to the armour worn by Arab warriors and later adopted by the French to refer to a short coat.

2 French words for Trade & shopping of Arabic origins

Magasin, French word for store is one of many Arabic loanwords

Douane (customs) – ديوان (dīwān):

Dīwān, is an Arabic loanword that means “office” or “administration.” This Arbaic word was used to refer to the tax collectors in the Arab world and was later adopted by the French to refer to the customs office.

Magasin – (Store, Warehouse)- مخزن (makhzan):

The French word “magasin” which means store in French, entered French via the Italian “magazzino” (“storehouse”), ultimately from the Arabic “makhzan, “which also means “storehouse.”

In the English language, it became Magazine, which also initially meant a store or warehouse but eventually became the word for a magazine, the kind you read. 

2  Arabic Loanwords that became French words for popular games

Échec - (Checkmate) Arabic loanwords

Échec – (Checkmate) – شاه مات (shāh māt):

The word “Échec” comes from the Arabic shāh māt, which means “the king is dead.”

The term initially referred to the end of a chess game when the king was placed in a position where it could not escape capture. The chess game was introduced to Europe via the Islamic world during the Middle Ages, and the Arabic term for checkmate was borrowed into several European languages, including French. In modern French, the word is spelled “échec et mat.”

Hasard – (Hasard) – الزهر (az-zahr)

“The French word “hasard” is from the popular Arabic expression ‘az-zahr,’ which means “dice.” During the Middle Ages, the term referred to the game of dice itself and, by extension, a lucky roll in the game.

In 15th century France, the word took on a slightly negative meaning of  “risk,” “danger,” and chance, as in the game of chance, ” jeu de hasard.” Gambling in France is actually quite popular. 

5  Miscellaneous Arabic Loanwords that made it into the French vocabulary.

Alcôve – (Alcove) – القبة (al-qubba):

The word “Alcôve” comes from the Arabic “al-qubba,” which means “dome.” The word entered French via Spanish and Italian.

Azur – (Azure) – لازورد (lazaward):

The word “azur” comes from the Arabic word which means “blue.” The word entered French via Italian and Spanish.

Bougie – (Candle) – بوجية (bujiya):

The French word for “candle” is believed to have originated from the Arabic word “bujiya,” a type of candle that was made from a particular wax found in North Africa. The term was later adopted into French to refer to a candle or wax taper.

Divan – (Divan/Sofa/Couch)  -ديوان (diwan):

The French word Divan which means sofa or couch in English is based on the Arabic “diwan,” a type of seating furniture typically found in Middle Eastern and North African cultures.

Sofa – (Sofa) – صفة (suffa):

The French word “sofa” originally referred to a raised platform with cushions and carpets for seating in Arabic.

Wrapping up Arabic loanwords in the French language

From everyday words like “café” and “orange” to more specialized terms like “alcool” and “magasin,” these Arabic loanwords have become engrained in the French language.

Understanding the origins of these French words can help us appreciate the complex history of the French language and its connections to other cultures. As the world becomes more interconnected, it is important to recognize and celebrate the contributions that different languages and cultures make to each other.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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