Falafel - Etymology


The word falafel can refer to the fritters themselves or to sandwiches filled with them. Some sources trace the name to the Arabic word falāfil (فلافل), the plural of filfil (فلفل), meaning "pepper"—probably from the Sanskrit word pippalī (पिप्पली), meaning "long pepper". A Coptic origin has recently been proposed from Pha La Phel "Φα Λα Φελ" 'of many beans'. However, the locus of the word's use is in the Levant rather than Egypt (where falafel are generally known as ta'amiya (Egyptian Arabic: طعمية), and in fact an etymology from internal Levantine sources is possible. Levantine colloquial Arabic falāfil is grammatically a mass noun that must be counted with the word حبة "grain, piece" (as the English word bread must be counted with loaf or slice). It may represent a frozen plural of an earlier unattested *filfal, from Aramaic pilpāl, "small round thing, peppercorn," derived from palpēl, "to be round, roll". Thus in origin, falafel would be "rollers, little balls." It its vocabulary, grammar, and phonology, the colloquial Arabic of the Levant reflects the deep influence of Aramaic, the language from which the population of the Levant shifted after the Muslim conquest of Syria in 634-638. In this way, an Aramaic origin for the colloquial term is not problematic, although the late date of attestation of the word in Arabic renders it somewhat tentative--a problem from which the proposed Coptic etymology, also invoking an unattested Coptic phrase, suffers from in equal measure. (In connection with the proposed origin of falafel in Lenten practices of the Copts, it should be remembered that since the days of the Apostles, the Levant to this day has a very large Aramaic-speaking, and later Arabic-speaking, Christian population.) The Arabic word falāfil has been borrowed into many other languages and spread around the rest of the world as the general name for this food. In English, it is first attested in 1941.

Falafel is known as ta'amiya (Egyptian Arabic: طعمية ṭaʿmiyya, ) in Egypt, with the exception of Alexandria. The word is derived from a diminutive form of the Arabic word ṭaʻām (طعام, "food"); the particular form indicates "a unit" of the given root in this case Ṭ-ʕ-M (ط ع م, having to do with taste and food), thus meaning "a little piece of food" or "small tasty thing".

Read more about this topic:  Falafel

Other articles related to "etymology":

Zarphatic Language - Etymology
... Zarphatic was written using a variant of the Hebrew alphabet, and first appeared in the 11th century, in glosses to texts of the Hebrew Bible and Talmud written by the great rabbis Rashi and Rabbi Moshe HaDarshan ... Constant expulsions and persecutions, resulting in great waves of Jewish migration, brought about the extinction of this short-lived, but important, language by the end of the 14th century ...
Passenger Pigeon - Taxonomy and Systematics - Etymology
... In the 18th century, the Passenger Pigeon in Europe was known to the French as tourtre but, in New France, the North American bird was called tourte ... In modern French, the bird is known as the pigeon migrateur ...
Kennesaw, Georgia - History - Etymology
... The name Kennesaw is derived from the Cherokee Indian word gah-nee-sah meaning cemetery, or burial ground. ...
Prague - Etymology and Other Names
... is also related to the modern Czech word práh (threshold) and a legendary etymology connects the name of the city with princess Libuše, prophetess and a wife of mythical founder of the Přemyslid dynasty ... The same etymology is associated with the Praga district of Warsaw ...
Algae - Etymology and Study
... The etymology is obscure ... The etymology is uncertain, but a strong candidate has long been some word related to the Biblical פוך (pūk), "paint" (if not that word itself), a cosmetic eye-shadow used by the ancient Egyptians ...

Famous quotes containing the word etymology:

    Semantically, taste is rich and confusing, its etymology as odd and interesting as that of “style.” But while style—deriving from the stylus or pointed rod which Roman scribes used to make marks on wax tablets—suggests activity, taste is more passive.... Etymologically, the word we use derives from the Old French, meaning touch or feel, a sense that is preserved in the current Italian word for a keyboard, tastiera.
    Stephen Bayley, British historian, art critic. “Taste: The Story of an Idea,” Taste: The Secret Meaning of Things, Random House (1991)

    The universal principle of etymology in all languages: words are carried over from bodies and from the properties of bodies to express the things of the mind and spirit. The order of ideas must follow the order of things.
    Giambattista Vico (1688–1744)