[sar-uh-suh n]


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 Sar·a·cen·ic [sar-uh-sen-ik] /ˌsær əˈsɛn ɪk/, Sar·a·cen·i·cal. of or relating to the Saracens.

Origin of Saracen

before 900; Middle English, Old English < Medieval Latin Saracēnus < Late Greek Sarakēnós
Related formsSar·a·cen·ism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for saracen

Contemporary Examples of saracen

Historical Examples of saracen

  • They were not sure whether she were most Saracen, gipsy, or Jew.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • Richard forgot his purpose, forgot that Blake waited for him at the Saracen's Head.

    Mistress Wilding

    Rafael Sabatini

  • The Saracen's Head, which had welcomed Paoli before now, received the travellers.

    James Boswell

    William Keith Leask

  • But to be accurate, it was a Moorish invasion and a Saracen conquest!

    A Short History of Spain

    Mary Platt Parmele

  • The German, the Saracen, the Norman made their appearance on the scene.

    Theodoric the Goth

    Thomas Hodgkin

British Dictionary definitions for saracen



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 FormsSaracenic (ˌsærəˈsɛnɪk) or Saracenical, adjective

Word Origin for Saracen

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

Word Origin and History for saracen



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