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Arab

[ar-uh b]
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noun
  1. a member of a Semitic people inhabiting Arabia and other countries of the Middle East.
  2. a member of any Arabic-speaking people.
  3. Arabian horse.
  4. Also called A·rab·ber [ey-rab-er] /ˈeɪˌræb ər/. Sometimes Offensive. a street peddler.
  5. Archaic: Sometimes Offensive. street arab.
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adjective
  1. of or relating to Arabs.
  2. Arabian.
  3. Arabic.
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Origin of Arab

1625–35; back formation from Latin Arabs (taken as plural) < Greek Áraps Arabian, an Arabian or Arab
Related formsan·ti-Ar·ab, adjective, nounnon-Ar·ab, noun, adjectivepro-Ar·ab, 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/, 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.

Arab.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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

  • 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

  • "A Britisher of sorts" had come into the street, guided by an Arab.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson


British Dictionary definitions for arab

Arab

noun
  1. 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
  2. a lively intelligent breed of horse, mainly used for riding
  3. (modifier) of or relating to the Arabsthe Arab nations
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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

Word Origin and History for arab

Arab

n.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper