Turkish words borrowed in Modern Arabic

Many words in modern Arabic dialects are originally Turkish. This articles discusses why this is the case, as well as gives lots of examples for such loan words and phrases.


This may sound strange for many, but since the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire had administrative control over most of the Middle East and North Africa, from Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Hijaz, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria.

Even after the Ottomans gave up control for the colonial powers of Europe in the 19th century, the cultural influence remained. Like most societies under colonial or imperial rule, Arabs looked up to Turkey and everything Turkish. Many things were borrowed, adopted, integrated, and imitated.

My knowledge of many of these words was when I encountered them when visiting Turkey twice in the 1990s as a tourist.


Arabic Turkish Description
كوبري Kobru Brigde. The original Arabic words is جسر (Jessr) or قنطرة (Qantara). The latter was borrowed into Spansih.
كات Kat ِA story in a building. This word is used in the old part of Alexandria, and is almost unique in Egypt. The correct Arabic term is طابق (Tabiq).
أوضة Oda Room. This is used in Egypt. The original Arabic is غرفة (Ghorfa)
أفندم Afandem Affirmative answer. Used when replying to a superior, specially in the military.
أيوة Aywa Affirmative answer. In everyday use.
تمام Tamam Equivalent to "OK"
خلاص Khalas "Finished", "over", "done"
وابور Vapur The Turkish word seem to be derived from a European word (Vapour), and refers to steam engines. Nowadays it is used for ferry boats. In Arab countries, it is used for the steam engine of a train.
دولاب Dolap Cupboard/Wardrobe
بوظة Boza Ice cream
كازوزة Gazuz Any carbonated drink
ياميش Yamish Nuts and dried fruits. Commonly consumed in the fasting month of Ramadan. In Arabic it is known as نقل (Noqol)
دوغري Doghru ٍStraight
دولمة Dolma Vegetables stuffed with rice and minced meat, and cooked in oil.
طرشي Torsu Pickles
بسطرمة Bastirma Dried meat encased in a mixture of garlic and fenugreek seed and spices. Came to Egypt from Turkey
قطايف Kadaeyf The same word is used for different desserts in Turkey and Egypt. In Turkey it is the thin vermicelli like thing baked in the oven, and smothered with thick syrup, and stuffed with nuts, raisin, or saltless cheese. In Egypt, it is a sort of small pancakes that are rolled with nuts and raisins stuffing, then deep fried, and then dipped in syrup. The name is definitiely of Arabic origin, from the root قطف which means "picking of fruit from their trees".

Job Titles

Many job titles in modern Arabic are actually Turkish. It is relatively easy to detect those, since they end with the "-ji" suffix. In Egypt, the J sound becomes G (like in Garden). Many of those have become family names.

Arabic Turkish Description
شيشكلي Shishekli Flower seller. Known in Syria.
مكوجي Makwaji Clothes ironer.
سفرجي Sofraji Waiter.
شوربجي Shorbaji Soup maker
خاشقجي Khashokji Spoon maker. In Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, there is a diamond called after that name. Also, the Saudi millionnaire arms dealer Adnan Khashokji is named so.
طوبجي Tobji Gunner/Artillery
صابونجي Sabonji Soap maker
عطشجي 'Tishji Train water (from the days of steam engines)
قهوجي Qahwaji Coffee shop waiter
بلتاجي Beltaji ?
توتنجي Tutunji Tobacco seller
عبه جي Abbaji ?
كبابجي Kababji Maker of Kabab (skewered meat)
قبطان Koboudan Captain (pilot at sea)
قبودان " Variant of above
كبودان " Variant of above

Military Ranks

Many military ranks of Turkish origins were in use in Arab countries until recently. Although the formal titles are now Arabic, the Turkish ones are still in conversational use.

Arabic Turkish Description
أمباشي Umbashi
بكباشي Bekbashi
يوزباشي Yozbashi
شاويش Shawush
جاويش " Variant of above
أميرالاي Amir Alai

Proper Names

Many proper names in modern Arabic are actually Turkish names. The strange thing about those is that all of them have Arabic roots, mostly from the Quran, Islam's revealed text, or from certain ideal values and qualities. Such borrowing then reverse borrowing is a very interesting phenomenon. All of these end in the ي Arabic letter (-i or -y when romanized), which approximates the Turkish sound. Others have the -t.

Arabic Turkish Description
مجدي Mejdu From Arabic Majd: Glory
شكري Shokru From Arabic Shokr: giving thanks (to God)
صبري Sabru From Arabic Sabr: patience
يسري Yosru From Arabic Yosr: Ease
فكري Fikri From Arabic Fikr: Thought
حكمت Hikmat From Arabic Hikma: Wisdom
حشمت Hishmat From Arabic Hishma: Modesty, proper attire
عزت Izzat From Arabic 'Izza: pride (?)
عصمت Ismat From Arabic 'Isma: protection (by God)
شوكت Shawkat From Arabic Shawka: Power



Thank you ...

Thank you for the additions/corrections!


~ Fa dūlāb دولاب
is Persian in origin.

What about the name "Medhat",

What about the name "Medhat", does it also fit in the list of proper names that are originally turkish? My dad's called Medhat Shoukry, and his paternal grandfather (Mahmoud Shoukry) is from Istanbul, Turkey but was sent to Egypt as part of his duty -he was some kind of diplomat- then he remained there. I don't know if his name is just a coincidence or he was given a Turkish name on purpose. Also my aunt, she's called "Olfat" Is this also a turkish name? Now these names are common in Egypt.

It's sad we have no idea now about oyr relatives there.

Yes, all Turco-Arab

Yes, all of these are Turco-Arab (Turkish adaptations from Arabic roots).

Medhat مدحت is from مدح meaning "to praise".

Olfat ألفت is from ألفة which means "closeness, familiarity, friendship"

Both names are common in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world.

Egyptian Message to Turkey

I love Turkey
BIG KISSSSSSSSSSSSSssssssssssssssssss from Egyptian

Tamam & Khalas are 100% Arabic!

Tamam means complete its even found in Aramaic & a famous ancient tribe is called Banu Tamim which means complete in the sense of perfect

Khalas means finished from the verb خلص


You are right.

But it is an example of the interesting phenomenon of back and forth borrowing.

The Turks borrow the Arabic root and give it a special meaning, then the Arabic speakers borrow back the Turkish term.

Like the proper names I mentioned in the article, all of them Arabic roots, but did not exist as names before the Turks added the -u suffix to them, then they made their way back to Arabic speaking countries.

I find this process fascinating.

Does any one knows the Arabic

Does any one knows the Arabic transition for 'modern' (same in both Turkish & English). I was told that the word modern actually derives from Arabic roots, coming from 'Madinah' the city.

Unlikely Arabic origin

The word in Arabic for "modern" depends on the context, but the most common translation would be hadeeth حديث (masculine) or hadeetha حديثة (feminine).

According to Wiktionary, the origin of "modern" is from Latin.

I don't think there is an Arabic connection here.

Yes we use the word "modern".

Yes we use the word "modern". But we took it from probably english. There are other two words. One of them is turkish: "cagdas". the other one is from arabic: "muasır". Actually they do not mean modern exactly. There is no any concept in eastern culters which includes the meaning of modern actually. Therefore we dont have this kind of word.