Yo sé que los musulmanes, cuando conquistaron España, impactaron en gran medida al idioma. Hay palabras en español que son prestadas (y ahora forman parte del idioma). ¿Existe algún método para identificar estas palabras?


I know that the Muslims, when they conquered Spain, impacted the language greatly. There are words in Spanish that are borrowed (and now are a part of the language). Is there a method by which a person can identify these words?

  • 1
    So my grammar is (often) terrible. Please, please edit if there are subject/verb/gender agreement issues. :D
    – Aarthi
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 17:44
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    "un parte" should be "una parte"
    – jrdioko
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 19:15
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    @AarthiDevanathan: I've just edited your question correcting some slight problems :). Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 19:30
  • First of all, you write spanish better than i write english :P Del texto yo cambiaría el "yo sé que..." Es correcto, por supuesto, pero en español queda forzado poner el pronombre delante del verbo (no siempre) Queda más natural poner "Sé que los musulmanes..." Lo mismo con "ellos conquistaron" Además "hay un método con cual" está mejor expresado con "Hay un método por el cual" From that text i would change "yo sé.." Its correct, of course, but in spanish dont sounds good put the prenom before the verb( not allways). Its more natural put only "sé que" The same with "ellos conquistaron"
    – Aracem
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 23:56

5 Answers 5


There are some clues that help spot words that may be of Arabic origin and there are some lists on the Internet but there's no guaranteed method other than looking up the etymology of each word to know for sure.

The biggest clue is words beginning with al- (or ál-), which in Arabic is the definite article "the" / "el" / "la", but generally gets fused into the words when they become naturalized into Spanish.

But it's only a clue. Some Spanish words beginning with al- or ál- are not from Arabic such as alga and alzar from Latin, and other words from Arabic don't start with al- at all, including guitarra and toronja.

  • So, a word like el abanico is likely an Arabic word, since the word has an al- prefix? What about words like el ajedrez?
    – Aarthi
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 19:30
  • No not "likely". I chose the wording "may be of Arabic origin". I give one example of a word of Latin origin that also starts with al- and I probably should include at least one that is of Arabic origin and doesn't start with al-. I'll also bold where I say "but there's no guaranteed method other than looking up the etymology of each word". Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 19:34
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    ajedrez is a separate word and I think that you meant abanico(fan) and both words don't start with al Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 4:31
  • Just a note. First names that begin with al- are not Arabic. Instead are German names, such as Álvaro, Alejandro, etc. Although, that rule is not 100% effective, there are many Arabic words that don't begin with al- such as juez, and viceversa.
    – pferor
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 23:40
  • Thanks @pferor, hopefully I made it clear that there are plenty of false negatives and false positives. I used the examples guitarra and toronja but juez is great too. Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 8:27

There is no actual rule to know, but here is a list of the words inherited from the arabs.

Most of them are not actually used here in Mexico, and I don't know the meaning of at least 75% of those words in the list, but the most common would be:

dado (dice)
ajedrez (chess)
café (coffee)
almohada (pillow)
momia (mummy)
paraíso (paradise)
daga (dagger)
azúcar (sugar)

Also, one of the most arabic words is ojalá "hopefully" - from arabic law šá lláh (literally "if God wants").

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    I wish I could +2 just for mentioning ojalá! Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 8:27

You can look up this word in a dictionary that contains etymological information. For example, the dictionary of Real Academia Española (RAE) specifies details such as:

Del ár. hisp. assúkkar, este del ár. clás. sukkar, este del gr. σάκχαρι, y este del pelvi šakar. source

Knowing how to interpret these abbreviations, you can easily identify borrowed words.

In this example:
ár. hisp. = árabe hispano
ár. clás. = árabe clásico


You can find a lot of examples in the names of towns and villages in the South and East area of Spain.

All the names starting with Al-, Ben- or Mas- have their origins in Araba, you can see an example in the region of Valencia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_municipalities_in_Valencia


Most of the word started with "Al" came from Arab.

Almohada (Pillow) Alcohol. Almacén (Depot)

Or starts with Guada (sounds Wad.means river)

Guadalajara. Guadalquivir. Guadarrama.

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