Friday, February 8, 2013

Arabic Word in English: Sirocco

The English word "sirocco" comes to English from Italian sirocco / scirocco. It refers specifically to a hot wind in the Mediterranean that blows from north African into southern Europe. For more information about the sirocco wind, see this fascinating Wikipedia article: Sirocco.

The Italian word in turn comes from Arabic sharqi, meaning "eastern, the east wind," from sharq, meaning "the east." The root is sharaqa, "to rise." Because the sun rises in the east, Arabic sharq means "east," just as the Latin word oriens, "rising," gives us the English words Orient and Oriental.

The image below shows a NASA satellite image of a sirocco wind out of Libya blowing dust over the Mediterranean and southern Europe.

The other easterly winds of the Mediterranean are the Levant wind and the Gregale. here is a handy graphic that shows the specialized names of these Mediterranean winds:

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