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[sar-uh-suh n] /ˈsær ə sən/
History/Historical. a member of any of the nomadic tribes on the Syrian borders of the Roman Empire.
(in later use) an Arab.
a Muslim, especially in the period of the Crusades.
Also, Saracenic
[sar-uh-sen-ik] /ˌsær əˈsɛn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
Saracenical. of or relating to the Saracens.
Origin of Saracen
before 900; Middle English, Old English < Medieval Latin Saracēnus < Late Greek Sarakēnós
Related forms
Saracenism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for saracenic
Historical Examples
  • Who has confined his attentions to the early saracenic literature of North Africa?

    The Book-Hunter at Home P. B. M. Allan
  • The Law College lifts its saracenic towers above him as he passes by.

    The Story of Madras Glyn Barlow
  • It would also account for the saracenic touch in his arches and ornamentation.

    The Cathedral Builders Leader Scott
  • As for the sheep's ear, it is spoken of as a saracenic fable.

  • The earliest examples remaining to us are Coptic or saracenic.

    History of the Fan George Woolliscroft Rhead
  • What concerns us chiefly is that the saracenic predominates.

    The Ceramic Art Jennie J. Young
  • The weaving of inscriptions in textiles is not a saracenic invention.

    Needlework As Art Marian Alford
  • Hence the term saracenic applied to both the workers and their handiwork.

    Of Six Medival Women Alice Kemp-Welch
  • Here is a mixture, still visible, of the Byzantine and the saracenic.

    Beatrix Honore de Balzac
  • So far we have been dealing only with the saracenic share in the European revival.

British Dictionary definitions for saracenic


(history) a member of one of the nomadic Arabic tribes, esp of the Syrian desert, that harassed the borders of the Roman Empire in that region
  1. a Muslim, esp one who opposed the crusades
  2. (in later use) any Arab
of or relating to Arabs of either of these periods, regions, or types
designating, characterizing, or relating to Muslim art or architecture
Derived Forms
Saracenic (ˌsærəˈsɛnɪk), Saracenical, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French Sarrazin, from Late Latin Saracēnus, from Late Greek Sarakēnos, perhaps from Arabic sharq sunrise, from shāraqa to rise
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 saracenic



Old English, "an Arab" (in Greek and Roman translations), also, mid-13c., generally, "non-Christian, heathen, pagan," from Old French saracin, from Late Latin saracenus, from Greek sarakenos, usually said to be from Arabic sharquiyin, accusative plural of sharqiy "eastern," from sharq "east, sunrise," but this is not certain. In medieval times the name was associated with that of Biblical Sarah (q.v.).

Peple þat cleped hem self Saracenys, as þogh þey were i-come of Sarra [John of Trevisa, translation of Higdon's Polychronicon, 1387]
The name Greeks and Romans gave to the nomads of the Syrian and Arabian deserts. Specific sense of "Middle Eastern Muslim" is from the Crusades. From c.1300 as an adjective. Related: Saracenic; and cf. sarsen.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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