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[ar-uh b] /ˈær əb/
a member of a Semitic people inhabiting Arabia and other countries of the Middle East.
a member of any Arabic-speaking people.
Also called Arabber [ey-rab-er] /ˈeɪˌræb ər/ (Show IPA). Sometimes Offensive. a street peddler.
Archaic: Sometimes Offensive. street arab.
of or relating to Arabs.
Origin of Arab
1625-35; back formation from Latin Arabs (taken as plural) < Greek Áraps Arabian, an Arabian or Arab
Related forms
anti-Arab, adjective, noun
non-Arab, noun, adjective
pro-Arab, adjective
Usage note
The meanings “street peddler” and “vagabond” (in this second sense, also called a street arab) are sometimes perceived as insulting because of their reference to the historically nomadic peoples of the Arabian peninsula. The meaning “vagabond” has fallen into disuse. However, street vendors in Baltimore, Maryland, are called Arabs; in fact, it is a self-referential term—that is, one used by the vendors themselves.
Pronunciation note
The pronunciation of Arab as [ey-rab] /ˈeɪˌræb/ (Show IPA) with an initial [ey] /eɪ/ sound and secondary stress on the second syllable, is sometimes used facetiously or disparagingly. It is especially common in the street-peddler and street-arab senses and is usually considered offensive in any sense.


3. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Arab
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Thank you, so much," he began, but the Arab waved formality aside.

    A Night Out Edward Peple
  • The young Arab spoke to the boards as though they were partners in his iniquity.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • "He's the best looking Arab we've seen yet," remarked Mrs. East.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • You'll know it for certain by a red camellia on the Arab driver's European coat.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • He let me have my fortune told by an Arab sand diviner, who came while we were at dinner.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
British Dictionary definitions for Arab


a member of a Semitic people originally inhabiting Arabia, who spread throughout the Middle East, N Africa, and Spain during the seventh and eighth centuries ad
a lively intelligent breed of horse, mainly used for riding
(modifier) of or relating to the Arabs: the Arab nations
Word Origin
C14: from Latin Arabs, from Greek Araps, from Arabic `Arab
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Arab

late 14c. (Arabes, a plural form), from Old French Arabi, from Latin Arabs (accusative Arabem), from Greek Araps (genitive Arabos), from Arabic 'arab, indigenous name of the people, perhaps literally "inhabitant of the desert" and related to Hebrew arabha "desert." Meaning "homeless little wanderer, child of the street" is from 1848 (originally Arab of the city), in reference to nomadic ways. Arab League formed in Cairo, March 22, 1945.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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