Word Power Quiz: English Words of Arabic Origin

Centuries of trade between Middle Eastern and European merchants brought more than silks and spices to the West. Find out how many of these English words of Arabic origin are in your vocabulary.

1 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

1. Lapis Lazuli

A: Breed of soft-haired rabbit
B: Gem-carving technique
C: Bright blue mineral

2 / 31
Lapis lazuli rock on black backgroundPhoto: Shutterstock

Correct answer: C. Bright blue mineral

Example: Yvonne's necklace caught the eye with its lapis lazuli stones.

3 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

2. Bezoar

A: Wild boar
B: Hard mass in a stomach
C: Navigational star chart

4 / 31
Sad dog on beachPhoto: Shutterstock

Correct answer: B. Hard mass in a stomach

Example: The veterinarian found the bezoar that had been causing José's dog such pain.

5 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

3. Adobe

A: Flour-based glue
B: Sun-dried bricks
C: Political advisor

6 / 31
Adobe bricks drying in the sunPhoto: Shutterstock

Correct answer: B. Sun-dried bricks

Example: Some of the streets in Timimoun, Algeria, are lined with adobe houses.

7 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

4. Mecca

A: Place that attracts people
B: Clay cooking pot
C: Magnetic north

8 / 31
Crowd gathering around the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in FrancePhoto: lapon pinta/Shutterstock

Correct answer: A. Place that attracts people

Example: Some Muslims take an annual trip to Mecca, the city where Muhammad was born, and some culture lovers take an annual trip to New York City, a mecca for the arts.

9 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

5. Carmine

A: Woven satchel
B: Vivid red
C: Youthful prince

10 / 31
Carmine Photo: Shutterstock

Correct answer: B. Vivid red

Example: In spring, Jasmine's garden is full of carmine tulips.

11 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

6. Albatross

A: Oceanic bird of the family Diomedeidae
B: Saltwater fish species
C: Song lamenting the fall of a city

12 / 31
Albatross on rock colonyPhoto: Shutterstock

Correct answer: A. Oceanic bird of the family Diomedeidae

Example: "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" tells of a curse brought about when a sailor kills an albatross.

13 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

7. Loofah

A: Incense holder
B: Dried fruit used as a bath sponge
C: Cinnamon toothpaste

14 / 31
Loofah on health matPhoto: Shutterstock

Correct answer: B. Dried fruit used as a bath sponge

Example: Harry's bathroom was stocked with fresh towels, a silk dressing gown and a loofah.

15 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

8. Alcove

A: Footstool
B: Fragrant spice
C: Recessed area

16 / 31
Alcove in roomPhoto: Shutterstock

Correct answer: C. Recessed area

Example: A marble bust of Beethoven sat in an alcove in the living room.

17 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

9. Azimuth

A: Military officer who leads a death squad
B: Political deadlock
C: Direction of a celestial body from the observer

18 / 31
Compass on mapPhoto: Shutterstock

Correct answer: C. Direction of a celestial body from the observer

Example: To receive the most sunlight, a solar panel should take the sun's azimuth into account.

19 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

10. Cipher

A: Coded messaging
B: Gambling strategy
C: Freshwater dolphin

20 / 31
Enigma machinePhoto: Shutterstock

Correct answer: A. Coded messaging

Example: Many ciphers were created for the U.S. military during the Second World War, but the Navajo language proved one of the best methods of secret communication.

21 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

11. Julep

A: Citrus drink
B: Syrupy drink
C: Yogourt drink

22 / 31
Mint julepPhoto: Shutterstock

Correct answer: B. Syrupy drink

Example: The mint julep is the signature cocktail of the Kentucky Derby.

23 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

12. Calipers

A: Instrument with two legs that measures dimensions
B: Hereditary religious leaders in Syria
C: Proportion of precious meals in an alloy

24 / 31
CaliperPhoto: Shutterstock

Correct answer: A. Instrument with two legs that measures dimensions

Example: While renovating the kitchen, Jillian used calipers to determine the size of her tiles.

25 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

13. Alkaline

A: Dark eyeliner made from wax
B: Substance containing a low concentration of hydrogen ions
C: Pointed nose

26 / 31
Vegetable are alkalinePhoto: Shutterstock

Correct answer: B. Substance containing a low concentration of hydrogen ions

Example: A solution with a pH higher than seven is said to be alkaline, or basic.

27 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

14. Arsenal

A: Person who sets fires
B: Deadly poison
C: Store of weapons

28 / 31
Word power: Arsenal Photo: Shutterstock

Correct answer: C. Store of weapons

Example: Nine countries in the world possess known nuclear arsenals.

29 / 31
Question mark on chalk boardPhoto: Shutterstock

15. Damask

A: Twilight hour
B: Woven fabric with a reversible pattern
C: Persian Gulf sailing vessel

30 / 31
Damask fabricPhoto: Shutterstock

Correct answer: B. Woven fabric with a reversible pattern

Example: For the French doors, the decorator chose damask curtains that would photograph well from either side.

31 / 31
Woman thinkingPhoto: Shutterstock

How Did You Do?

If you got 7-10 correct answers, you have some work to do (sorry!). If you got 11-12 correct answers, then great job! And if you got 13-15 correct answers, it's time for you to think about a career in linguistics!

Related features:
10 Scandalous Biographies That Are The Perfect Beach Reads
Reporting For Duty: In Conversation With Lisa LaFlamme
Saving Syria-One Student At A Time