• synonyms


[sar-uh-suh n]
  1. History/Historical. a member of any of the nomadic tribes on the Syrian borders of the Roman Empire.
  2. (in later use) an Arab.
  3. a Muslim, especially in the period of the Crusades.
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  1. Also Sar·a·cen·ic [sar-uh-sen-ik] /ˌsær əˈsɛn ɪk/, Sar·a·cen·i·cal. of or relating to the Saracens.
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Origin of Saracen

before 900; Middle English, Old English < Medieval Latin Saracēnus < Late Greek Sarakēnós
Related formsSar·a·cen·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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.

  • It would also account for the Saracenic touch in his arches and ornamentation.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for saracenic


  1. 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
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  1. of or relating to Arabs of either of these periods, regions, or types
  2. designating, characterizing, or relating to Muslim art or architecture
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Derived FormsSaracenic (ˌsærəˈsɛnɪk) or 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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper