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



maybe Beltaji could mean

maybe Beltaji could mean woodcutter or axman, from the turkish baltacı, that means also halberdier in the army.

Baltagi is axe man, but it

Baltagi is axe man, but it means thug in arabic. I think it has something to do with gang members in the old days having an axe or balta. Also I think you meant arbagi not abagi, which means cart driver. Generally the suffix -ge to a word means "the person of". Another example would be Gazmagi which means shoe maker. The words themselves are not necessarily turkish but the suffix -ge is.

Baltagis were also used

Baltagis were also used during the Egyptian revolution of 2011.


It is usually a slang word taken from Turkish to Mean Thug or underworld boss. It is also a word that can be used for pioneer/sapper for military purpose.


Balta is a Turkish word denoting a sharp metallic tool used for digging or cutting so when you add the suffix "ji" the word becomes the person who uses that tool. Therefore, the word baltaji means someone who uses violence, physical strength or rough behaviour to settle score.

Balta is an axe

Balta is an axe, either the one used for chopping wood, or the battle axe type.

Many words here are arabic in origin

There are many Arabic words here showed as a Turkish words and borrowed to Arabic .. but they are Arabic in origin such as:
- تمام : وهي من جذر تمٌه ، أتم يتم فهو تام
- خلاص : وهي من جذر خلص أي إنتهى أو نجى ، خلص يخلص فهو خالص

And about Captain قبطان it is English word and not Turkish

tamam and khalas are

tamam and khalas are definately arabic as come from arabic 3-consonant roots.

But the other examples are really interesting, although the Turk Dil Kurumu (Turkish Language insitutue) also says Dolap is arabic origin. You can check on their online dictinatry.

I don't know for خلاص but

I don't know for خلاص but tamam with the meaning of okay was coined in Ottoman Turkish in its original Arabic form it merely meant done, finished. Kaptan in Turkish was borrowed from Venetian and not English and was used as in Kapudan-ı derya, kaptan paşa and so on. Dolab is originally dûlâb from Persian. All these words were borrowed or borrowed back in a semantically enriched form from Ottoman Turkish.