Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Arabic Names That Refer To Colors Or Skin Complexions

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part III of a three part post on personal names that refer to color in general and skin color names in particular. This post provides a list of Arabic names that refer to colors or skin complexions.

Click for Part I of this post.

Part I includes my remarks about the Irish name "Kieran" (meaning "little dark one" or "black") that was given to Mitt Romney's recently adopted grandson who is Black. Part I also includes an excerpt of a 2012 blog post entitled "Colonial Mentality" by Kemi Ogunniyi, a young woman of Nigerian descent who wrote about her impressions of the year (2010) that she spent in Nigeria. Part I also includes an excerpt of the comment that I wrote on that blog in response to that post, and a portion of Kemi's response to questions. Lastly, Part I also includes questions and responses about the meaning of other "skin color" names that were posted on a discussion thread of the Nigerian forum

Click for Part II of this post.

Part II presents an excerpt from a chapter of the 1966 book The Mind Of A Nation- The Yoruba Child by Fela Sowande. That excerpt gives the meaning of and explanation for another Yoruba skin color name.

The content of this post is presented for cultural and sociological purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Arabic names that refer to a color or a skin complexion. (Note: This list does not include names that mean "bright, shining, brilliant, [sun, star, lamp] light and similar words)

Masculine Arabic N names

Adham - Black or dark

Aswad – Black

Kadeer, Kadir - Green or green crop (connoting freshness and innocence)

Nu'man - Blood, red

Suhaib, Suhayb - Of reddish hair or complexion; name of the first Roman to embrace Islam

Sumrah – Brownness

Feminine Arabic names

Barakah, Baraka - Blessing; white one

Dahab – Gold

Fayruz – Turquoise

Fiddah – Silver

Humairah, Humayrah - Of reddish complexion; nickname the Prophet gave to his wife 'A'ishah

Jumanah, Jumaana - Silver pearl

Khuzama – Lavender

Lama - Darkness of lips

Lamya', Lamya - Of dark lips

Lujain, Lujayn – Silver

Mariyah - Fair complexion; name of the wife of the Prophet

Samra' - Soft, light tanned color

Sumaira, Sumayra - Diminutive of Samra'

ADDENDUM: Arabic's influence on African languages
"Arabic has had a great influence on other languages, especially in vocabulary. The influence of Arabic has been most profound in those countries dominated by Islam or Islamic power. Arabic is a major source of vocabulary for languages as diverse as Berber, Kurdish, Amharic, Tigrinya, Persian, Pashto, Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tagalog, Turkish, Spanish, Hindi, Swahili, Somali, Malay, and Indonesian, as well as other languages in countries where these languages are spoken."
One traditional West African language that isn't mentioned in that list is "Mandinka".
Here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia page about that language
"The Mandinka language (Mandi'nka kango), or Manding, is a Mandé language spoken by the Mandinka people of Mali, Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea-Bissau and Chad; it is the main language of the Gambia. It belongs to the Manding branch of Mandé, and is thus fairly similar to Bambara and Maninka or Malinké. In a majority of areas, it is tonal language with two tones: low and high, although the particular variety spoken in the Gambia and Senegal is non-tonal and uses a pitch accent."
The influence of Arabic on Mandinka personal names is quite easy to see. Here are a few Mandinka names with clear Arabic influences (Note: These names don't refer to colors or complexions).

Alieu( Ali)
Momodou (or just 'Modou')

Amie (Aminata)
Bintu, Binta
Fatoumatta (or just Fatou)

I've decided to let you find the Arabic names that are the sources for these Mandinka names.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

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Visitor comments are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. I just learned of another Arabic color name: :



    GENDER: Feminine

    USAGE: Arabic

    Meaning & History

    Means "whitish red" in Arabic.