Egyptian Arabic colloquial words from Coptic

I thought this was pretty neat. This is from Copticworld:

Ah - from the Coptic word "Aha", meaning yes 
Shebsheb - from the Coptic "seb-sweb," which means the measurement of feet 
Kokha - Coptic for dirt
Embu - originates from the Coptic word for water 
Mumm - derived from the Coptic word "mout" and the Demotic word "ounum", meaning eat 
Bo3bo3 - originates from a Coptic name for a ghost, used to scare children 
Sett - Coptic for woman 
Tanesh - derived from the Coptic for ignore 
Ba7 - the Coptic word for finished 
Fouta - Coptic for towel 
Taboot - from the Coptic for coffin 
7antoor - derived from "han" a word referring to plural objects, and "hatoor" meaning horses 
7anafeya - the word for faucet 
Khonn - from the Coptic word "khoun", which means inside 
Rokh - the Coptic word for drop/fall 
Sahd - the Coptic word for hot 
Zarta - the Coptic word for… wind (yes, really) 
Fatafeat - Coptic for crumbs or small pieces 
Wawa - from the Coptic word used to express pain 
Nunu - the Coptic word for small/little 
'Outa - Coptic for tomato

So pretty much, we as little Egyptian babies were speaking Coptic this whole time ;)


  • Keda spelt as ke de
    Dekha spelt as de ke
    Outah is a fruit
    Kaman spelt as ke men
    Abnoudi spelt as evnoti
    Kaka means dark
    Bekh means the ghost
    Wala which is the proper pronunciation of owalow meaning kid
    La3la3 proper one of lali meaning sing with passion
     Dowsha the proper pronunciation of tievshy hous proper for hos
    Damanhour proper for timienhor meaning the valley of the god Horus
    More to follow
  • Tarabeza for the table
    Taftaf spelt as thefthef meaning spit
    Maow for mother, sorry for my transcription system..hehe..
    Embare7 for empaihoou meaning that day as the phrase object used in colloquial Egyptian Arabic as yesterday
    Boktor spelt as Victor
    More to follow
  • edited August 2014
    These are really nice!  If you're part of Copticworld, you should definitely share those in there as well :) (and here of course)
  • @minasoliman,
    I'm a member of Copticworld but I haven't used that website often. Of course if you are keen on that please copy and paste all of this over there
  • edited August 2014
    Here's another exciting one I just found out.  The English word "Chemistry" in relation to the Arabic word "Al Kimya" comes from the Coptic word "Kemi", which means "Egypt".  Chemistry pretty much means "The Egyptian science"

  • Not exactly Mina. Kima means black. Egypt is called Kemi because it is the land of black (fertile) soil. Chemistry means "Black science". 

    Some if not most of the words from Copticworld (not ophadece's list) seem to be incorrect. I don't think they are Coptic per se. They might be some sort of local sub dialect of Ancient Egyptian, but not coptic. For example, woman in Coptic is always es-himi, not sitt. Maybe it is a Copticized Greek word but I can't find anything on most of these words. Maybe ophadece can shed some light.
  • I appreciate any and all corrections :)
  • @Remenkimi,
    Thanks for believing in Me to that extent.. Kama, Kami, or Kaimi, but not actually Keemi all refer to black and to Egypt too. You're absolutely right about woman of course. Sett refers to an Egyptian god that was a female, although I have an inkling not even human but in the pharaonic language. I don't think it refers to the human lady if at all found in the Coptic vocabulary.
     Other words include:
    EdDeeny spelt as ti nee i meaning give me
    shewa or shewaya meaning few
    foota meaning towel..
    More to follow hopefully soon

  • Interesting...I could imagine at that ancient time, the term "Sett", if applied to a woman was either a blasphemous or a romantic gesture :P
  • edited August 2014

    As far as I can tell, Set (or Seth) is a male (not female) Egyptian God, the brother of Osiris. He was the god of the desertstorms, disorder, violence and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. Now Seti was (male) pharaoh of Egypt from 1290BC - 1274BC. And Seti II was (male) pharaoh from 1200BC - 1194 BC. 

    On the other hand, Setet, was the female goddess of the Nile inundation/flooding. "Her name means she who shoots forth referring to the annual flooding of the river. She was an early warhunting, and fertility deity who was seen as the mother of the goddess Anuket and a protector of southern Egypt. Later she became regarded as one of the consorts of Khnum, the god identified as the guardian of the source of the Nile, with whom she was worshipped at Elephantine (the First nome of Egypt), indeed the centre of her cult was nearby, at Sahal, another island of the Nile. Since she was most dominant at the southern end of Egypt, she became regarded as the guard of Egypt's southern border with Nubia. Satet's child was Anuket, goddess of the Nile River herself, who formed the third part of the Elephantine triad of deities when formed." 

    Likely Sett is a Copticized word for Setet found in Upper Egypt. Coincidentally, Setet is now the plural form of Sett, even though Setet (the goddess) was a singular entity. Now since that is out of the way, we should look in to possible etymological origins of these other words. 

  • @Remenkimi,
    Thank you very much for this.. very perfect analysis and to the core. Indeed I like you argue that it's more related to varying the Arabic term than the Egyptian god or goddess even.. thanks again
  • by the way, tarabeza comes from the greek trapeza, which means table.
    if you remember that it was the europeans who invented high tables and chairs (instead of low tables and couches on the floor to recline on) then it makes sense.

    holidays in greek places, greek orthodox church
  • edited August 2014
    According to the lists above these words the Coptic language have in common in Tigriniay or Amharic or both. Having anything in common with Copts makes me mabsoota :D ;)  

    Sett (Amharic)- Coptic for woman 

    Fouta (Amharic)- Coptic for towel 

    Taboot (Amharic & Tigriniya)- from the Coptic for coffin. But in Amharic & Tigriniya it means that Holy Tablet that is put on the Altar. 

    Fatafeat (Amharic) - Coptic for crumbs or small pieces. But in Amharic it means a food that is made making crumbs from injera (bread) and socking it in a sauce.  

    Tarabeza (Amharic) - for the table

    Taftaf (Tigriniya) - spelt as thefthef meaning spit

    In Christ 


  • edited August 2014
    You're absolutely right, that's an example of Greek loan words in the Coptic vocabulary also like dekha, keda, Ekhrestos, etc
    Taboot is an Arabic word not Coptic. Sett was analysed by Remenkimi as above..
  • Here are some additional words:
    Dameera used in Upper Egypt to denote the annual flood
    Taff to spit
    ward meaning flower
    tawi to hide
    7anafeya an arabized word for 7onfah  
    laklek to hurry up

    Paying attention to such words prove the authenticity of OB and the invention of GB
  • I wasn't aware that people denied the authenticity of Old pronunciation 
  • If it were not denied then it would have been accepted by the church. 99% of Copts do not even know that it exists and accordingly thewy only know of the invention of GB.
  • That is such a false presumption. The authenticity and the existence of OB is not denied. It is the assumption that OB must circumvent the established GB because of some inherit superiority that is denied. 
  • False presumption according to who? and why is it a false presumption. 

    When you have a Coptic word pronounces thaff and is propnouced taff in everyday usage then this denotes that the Coptic letter "th", as used in GB, is pronounced T rather than th. Of course this is just one example among many many others.
  • According to the Coptic Orthodox Church and common sense. It is no different than saying "Since Sahidic Coptic is older and superior than Bohairic Coptic (and one can cite many examples), then the Church must accept Sahidic Coptic (and circumvent the established "invention" called Bohairic Coptic)." Such a false presumption or claim and insult to common sense will always be justifiably denied. Notice I said "cite many examples", not prove superiority. There is a difference. Anyone may be able to do the first, no one can do the second. 
  • @Remenkimi,
    And how is gb comparable to old Bohairic in your example? I fail to see how you equal a fabricated dialect with a naturally developed one unless you can enlighten me with the similarities..
  • A fabricated dialect that takes on the same dynamic process of a natural dialect makes the two comparable. We have discussed this in many threads. Do a search and you see I had already highlighted the similarities. 
  • @Remenkimi,
    First of all I hope you are not getting upset or fed up of having to defend your position in the face of strong evidence to the contrary. Your lack of Arabic fluency is certainly going to lock you up in such a position where I am more than astonished that you once had an opposing view.
    The fact that you discussed your point in numerous threads before doesn't convince me of your position one iota. Indeed besides translating Erian Moftah's book I'm also preparing a long list of words that I will post here in this very thread soon.
    Lastly when one day all English language speakers cease to exist and someone takes it upon themselves to assign the pronunciation of the letters to the French letters, that doesn't qualify it as a dynamic and natural evolution of a language.. especially when there is someone else out there who has access to older manuscripts showing the fallacy of such an attempt..
  • @ophadece.....i am sorry, but you are not making any sense....
  • @minatasgeel,
    There is no need to apologise at all. Please let me know how I am not making any sense and I will answer asap. This thread is on my bookmarked list.. looking forward to your queries personally @minatasgeel..
  • GB is a false dialect, an invention and it would be against logic to prove the superiority of OB over GB. The church does not own a language but a nation and a people. 99.9% of the Copts know nothing about Coptic and know no difference between OB or GB even those within the Church ranks. So to say that the your (Remenkimi)presumption stands is a wrteched thought because unfortunately it stands on ignorance.
  • You can attack me all you want. You have never addressed the actual argument in a coherent manner. Continuing to say GB is built on ignorance is a proscriptive argument, not a descriptive argument. As I said before, many of your arguments on OB are also built on inconsistent hearsay. Languages develop and revolve on usage. There is science behind that. Just because people don't understand or use a language, it doesn't make it an invention. 

    I am not fed up defending my position. I am fed of repeating myself with evidence that has gone ignored. My Arabic fluency has nothing to do with social linguistics. Again, stick to the topic and respond to the argument with evidence or just don't respond. 
  • edited August 2014
    We have demonstrated on several other threads the invention of GB and because it is an invention then it is a false dialect .. not a natural one. When colloquial spoken current words are used in a way that supports the OB and in no way supports GB, then there is evidence for OB's authenticity and evidence for GB falsehood. If you want to burry your head and chose to ignore those facts then that is your choice. However, do not claim that we have not been descriptive. 
  • Here we go again with the repetition.

    There is no such thing as a false dialect. If two people can communicate with a dialect, even if it is an abruptly fabricated language like Klingon or Esperanto, then it is not false. Insisting on calling it false is proscriptive. I never said OB does not have support in colloquial usage. I have never denied or ignored OB's facts. In fact, I explicitly wrote on August 26 in this thread, "The authenticity and the existence of OB is not denied". So don't argue that I am claiming OB has no support or authenticity. I only claim your definition of authenticity is false. As long as you equate authenticity with superiority, then you are proscriptive and your definition of authenticity is skewed. The idea that OB is superior to GB or that GB is a false dialect is a political argument, not linguistic fact. 
  • Ok @Remenkimi, evidence huh? Ok what more evidence Do you want than people pronouncing the letter waida one way and others another when they both live in the same country, have the same accent and speak the same dialect? What about the letter dalda? Bei, etc? You note I am not talking about vowels that do change from dialect to dialect, I'm talking about consonants.. there's no such a thing as gb
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