List of Swahili Words of Arabic Origin

Introduction

Swahili is a language that fuses African Bantu with Arabic. Arab sailors and traders have established links and ties with East Africa for centuries, their language  strongly merged with the local language to produce a creole derivative.

The word Swahili itself is derived from Arabic Sawahili سواحلي which is plural for ساحل meaning [Language] of the Coast

This article gives  some examples of Arabic words still in today's Swahili.

Here are some words. 

Swahili Arabic Meaning
hatari خطر Danger. Also the  title of a 1962 movie starring John Wayne, set in Africa.
Safari سفر Travel. Also: trip
mahali محل Place
vitabu كتاب Book
msumari مسمار Nail
kata قطع Cut, chop
habari خبر news
huru حر free
dhamiri ضمير conscience
kamusi قاموس dictionary
baridi بارد cold
samahani سامحني forgive me, excuse me
rafiki رفيق companion, friend
tafadhali تفضل please
furahi فرح happy

Time

The terms for time are strongly influenced by Arabic.  Many of it taken by the prayer times of Islam.

Swahili Arabic Meaning
asubuhi صبح morning
dakika دقيقة minute
saa ساعة hour
wakati وقت time
alasri العصر late afternoon
magharibi المغرب sunset
alfajiri الفجر dawn
karne قرن century

The Swahili names for the first five days of the week all start with Juma, then the order of the day of the week, Saturday being the first day of the week. Jumaa is derived from the Arabic word جمعة which means Friday, as well as "week. Only two days of the week got the Arabic names:

Swahili Arabic Meaning
alkhamisi الخميس Thursday
ijumaa الجمعة Friday

Animal  Names

Animal names are all native African Bantu (e.g. simba lion). However, there are  a few exceptions.

Swahili Arabic Meaning
Tausi طاوس Peacock, being non-native to Africa, it took the Arabic name, which in turn took it from Persian.


Numbers

The number system is also heavily Arabic, although not exclusively so.

Swahili Arabic Meaning
nusu نص Half. The proper classical Arabic word  is نصف nisf. In many present day dialects it is "nus", like in Swahili.
robo ربع Quarter
sita ستة 6
saba سبعة 7
tisa تسعة 9
ishrini عشرين 20
thalathini ثلاثين 30
arubaini أربعين 40
hamsini خمسين 50
sitini ستين 60
sabini سبعين 70
thamanini ثمانين 80
tisini تسعين 90
mia مئة 100.  The middle letter in classical Arabic is Hamza, however, in present day dialects, like Swahili, it is a Y sound.
elfu ألف 1000

Resources

Here are some useful links on Swahili.

Contents: 

Comments

modernity in swahili, in arabic

Hello,

Does anyone know how would we say 'modernity' in Swahili? What would the correct Arabic form be? From Google translate and such tools, I get

hdathh
'esryh
sha'esry

or

حداثة

عصرية

شىء عصري

I'm guessing usasa? Which loosely translates to now-ness. But I am looking for something that also captures the full breadth of what we mean by modernity, i.e. encounter, transformation, and continuation. Is it sufficient to say usasa? I haven't heard anyone using it, it just seems to be the first thing that comes to mind.

More words

Dawa - Medicine
Marahaba - I'm fine
Shukran - Thankyou
Salamu - Greetings

Some More Swahili Words of Arabic Origin

According to many Swahili Linguists, the language has derived between 40% to 45% of its vocabulary from Arabic Language. Below are some of these words:

Swahili سواحل Inhabitants of the shores or coasts.
Lugha لغة Language
Nauli نوّل Bus or boat fare
Binti بنت Girl or daughter
Kadhalika كذلك Likewise, moreover
Aidha أيضاً Too.
Kitabu كتاب Book
Kalamu قلم Pen
Karatasi قرطاس Paper
Hewa هواء Air, oxygen, wind
Mahaba محبة Love, loveness
Hadithi حديث Sayings, talk, conversation
Kula كُل Eat, have a bite
Ardhi أرض Earth, soil
Maskani مسكن Home
Miskini مسكين Poor, underprivileged
Harusi عروس Pride, pridegroom
Miskiti مسجد Mosque
Kanisa كنيسة Church
Duka دكان Grocer, store
Amsha أمشى To make a move
Haraka حركة Movement
Sukari سكر Sugar, diabetes
Thabiti ثابت Constant
Kabidhi قبض Receive, receipt
Sura سورة A Chapter from the Quran
Salaama سلامة Security, peacefulness
Amani أمان Security, peacefulness
Hadhari حذر Care, caution
Zuluma ظلم Unjustice
Dhahabu ذهب Gold
Bei بيع Sell, sale, sales
Biashara بيع شراء Buying and selling (Trade)
Wizara وزارة Ministry
Haya حياء Bashfull
Rubu ربع Quarter
Thuluthi ثلث One third
Thumuni ثُمن One eighth
Thamani ثمن Price, value
Tamaduni تمدن Civilization
Maadini معادن Mines, mining
Istiwai إستواء Equality
Jumuia جمعية Community, association
Jamii جميع All, Pan-"something"
Khanga خنقة A wrapped peice of cloth
Fustani فستان A woman full dress
Bustani بستان Garden with fruits
Hakimu حكيم Doctor, wiseman or wisewoman
Hikima حكمة Wisedom
Barabara البر Street, road
Bara البر Mainland
Ananasi أناناس Pineaple
Tufaha تفاحة Apple
Mshahara شهري Monthly salary
Tratibu ترتيب Arrangement
Kamili كامل Perfect, full
Nuksi نقص Shortage
Kisa قصة Story
Riwaya رواية Novel
Madhabuti مضبوط Control
Mamlaka مملكة Dominion, kingdom
Malika ملائكة Angels
Adhabu عذاب Punishment, suffering
Shukrani شكراً Thanks, thank you
Stahili يستاهل Deserve
Stahiki يستحق Deserve, merit
Duniani الدنيا The World
Habari اخبار News
Taifa طائفة Nation
Rais رئيس President
Jamhuri جمهورية Republic
Shughuli شغل Work, works, business
Stahmili استحمل To bear with "something"
Daini دين Debt, credit
Hesabu حساب Mathematics, accountability
Mhasibu محاسب Accountant
Mudir مدير Manager, director
Dakika دقيقة A minute
Saa ساعة An hour, wrist watch, clock
Mhandisi مهندس An Engineer
Elimu علم Knowledge, science
Mualimu معلم Master, teacher
Kamata غمض To catch, arrest, pull together
Mali مال Money, treasure
Heri خير Goodness, wellness
Ruhusa رخصة Permission, clearance
Raia رعية A citizen subject "of another govt.

And so many more. Thank you.

Pages