A highly interesting blog post about the history of 2 words originating from Ancient Egypt that were passed down and transferred to modern languages such as Spanish and English.

DIANABUJA'S BLOG: Africa, The Middle East, Agriculture, History and Culture

Above are but two of a series of words that originated in the Nile Valley.  The reasons for these survivals is perhaps not such a surprise, as discussed below. 


‘Ebony’ as named and used in ancient Egypt, was the species Dalbergia melanoxylon (African Blackwood, Grenadilla, or Mpingo).  This is a slow-growing leguminous hardwood, originally found in southern Ethiopia and areas south and west, but now endangered and no longer  found in many regions.

Ebony was – and continues to be – an elite wood, used in the past by pharaoh and perhaps also by the very wealthy.  In fact, one of the earliest discovered artifacts made of this wood is a piece on which is inscribed, in pictures, key events of the life of Den, the third pharaoh of ancient Egypt, approximately mid-thirty-first century BC.

 Evidence of ebony at this early period attests to what must have been an…

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  1. A few words of Coptic origin are found in the Greek language ; some of these later were lent to various European languages (e.g., barge , from Coptic ⲃⲁⲁⲣⲉ bari, “small boat”). However, most words of Egyptian origin that entered into Greek, and subsequently into other European languages, came directly from ancient Egyptian (often Demotic ). An example of this is the Greek ὄασις oasis, which comes directly from Egyptian wḥ3.t or demotic wḥỉ. Yet Coptic reborrowed some words of ancient Egyptian origin back into its lexicon via Greek. For example, both Sahidic and Bohairic use the word ebenos, which was taken directly from Greek ἔβενος “ebony”, originally from Egyptian hbny.

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