April - June 2007, Spain

From Arabic to Spanish (Surnames and Places)

By Juan Alvarado

Spanish surnames (and place names) that come from Arabic surnames and origins.
Do you have Arab lineage?

This list originally began just for fun. The list soon took a life of its own. It became a bit of an obsession. As I learned more Arabic, I saw and heard the same words I grew up with in Spanish. Some people of Hispanic descent, who first learn about the history of Moorish Spain, look upon the bearer of this history with incredulity. Apart from showing pictures, what more proof could you give? This is my language — a language very much influenced by the Moors.

Toponyms are place names. Many have evolved to become surnames. The ones listed here are mostly found in the Iberian peninsula of Arabic origin.

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of toponyms of Arabic origin in Iberia. These include cities, towns, villages, provinces and regions. They even include neighborhoods (barrios) and streets. They may also include geographical features such as mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes. Arabic place names are common in all of the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) including much of the North of the country (with the exception of those regions that never came under Moorish rule or where it was for the most part short-lived. Among those regions that didn’t come under Moorish rule are Galicia, Asturias, Catalonia, and the Basque country. Most of the places where Arabic toponyms are most common are the eastern coast and the region of Andalusia (Andalucía). Within Portugal, the frequency of Arabic place names proliferate as one travels south in the country.

Those areas that retained their pre-Islamic names during the Moorish period were generally Arabized. The pronunciation of the names were markedly changed and remain noticeable in their modern names: e.g. Caesarea Augusta became (سرقسطة) Saraqustah and then Zaragoza in Spanish.

Abdala (surname)Abdullah, Abd’Allah (عبدالله)servant of God
Alamedaal-Muwattaclear path, well-trodden path
Alamar (surname)al-‘Amr 
Alangeal-Hansh HaSn (الحنش حصن)Fort of the Snake
Alarco (surname)al-Ark (الأرك)Spanish place name
Albaceteal-BasiiT (البسيط) [the plain]City and province of Castilla la Mancha
Albaicinal-Bayaaziin RibaD (البيازين ربض )Spanish place name
Albarracin???Spanish place name
Albeldaal-BayDa’a (البيضاء)the white (place in Spain)
AlburquerqueAbu al-Qurqthe place with cork (oaks)
Alcaceral-Qasr (القصر)the palace
Alcaláal-Qal’ah (قلعة)the castle
Alcala de Henaresal-Qal’at an-Nahar (قلعة النهر)the river fort
Alcantara (surname)al-QanTarah (القنطرة)the bridge
Alcasaral-Qasrthe palace, castle
AlciraJazirat Shuqr (شقر جزيرة)island of Shuqr
Alcoveal-Qubba (القبة)the dome
AledoAliiT (أليط)Spanish place name
Algarveal-Gharb (الغرب) [the west]Region of southern Portugal
Algécirasal-Jazirat al-Khudra (الجزيرة الخضراء )[the green island] City and port in Cadiz province
Alhamaal-Hama (الحمة)Spanish place name
Alhándegaal-Khanduq (الخندق)the trench
Alicanteal-Liqant (أليقنت)Spanish place name
Aljarafeal-Sharaf (الشرف)Spanish place name
Almadénal-Maydaan (الميدان)the field
Almadenal-Ma’adn (المعدن)Spanish place name
Almanzar (surname)al-Mansur???
Almansilal-Manzil (المنزل)hotel, a stopping place
Almeida (surname)al-Maa’idah (المائدة)the dining table
Almenaraal-Manarah (المنارة)the minaret, mosque tower
Almenia (surname)al-Mani (المانع)[The Preventer, The Shielder, The Defender, etc. One of the 99 divine attributes of God]
Almeria (surname & place name)al-Mirayah (المرية)[the mirror; the watchtower] City and province of Andalucía
Almodovar (surname)al-Mudoor (المدور)Spanish place name
Alomar (surname)al-Amr 
Alpujarras (originally Alpuxarras)al-Bashuraat (البشرات)[the bastion, the news] Region extending South of Granada into Almeria
Alqueriaal-Qiriyya (القرية)the village
Alquezaral-QaSr (القصر)the palace
Amezquitaal-Masjid(from North African dialect, al-Mesgid) mosque
Almunecaral-Munikab (المنكب)Spanish place name
Andalucíaal-Andaluz (الأندلس)[Land of the Vandals] Arabic name of Muslim Spain, it is now the most populated region of Spain.
AndaraxAndarash (أندرش)Spanish place name
Andujar (surname)Andujar (أندوجر)Spanish place name
AntequeraAntikira (الأنتكيرة)Spanish place name
ArchidonaArshidunah (أرشذونة)Spanish place name
Arco (de la Frontera)Arkush (أركش)Spanish place name
ArgelitaFarghaleet (فرغليط)Spanish place name
ArjonaArjunah (أرجونة)Spanish place name
ArnedoArniiT (أرنيط)Spanish place name
AstorgaAsturqah (أسترقة‏)Spanish place name
AtienzaAnisha (أنيشة)Spanish place name
Avila (surname)Abila (آبلة‏)Spanish place name
Axarquíaash-Sharqiyya (الشرقية)[The eastern/oriental region] The eastern region of Malaga province.
AznalfaracheHaSn al-Faraj (الفرج حصن)Spanish place name
BadajozBaTlayoos (بطليوس)City and province of Extremadura
Badillo (surname)Abd’illah (عبدالله)servant of God
Baez (surname)Bayaas (بياس)Spanish place name
BaezaBayaasa (بياسة)Spanish place name
BarbastroBarb Shatr (بربشتر)Spanish place name
BarcelonaBahr shaluna (برشلونة)Spanish place name
BazaBasata (بسطة)Spanish place name
BejaBaaja (باجة)Spanish place name
BenadidBani ?Spanish place name
BenalmadenaBani al-Madina (المدينة بني)sons of the city
BenanataBani ?Spanish place name
Benavides (surname)Bani ? 
BenevitesBani ?Spanish place name
BeniajarBani an-Najaar (النجار بني)sons of the carpenter
BenicalafBani Khalaf (بني خلف)Spanish place name
BenicasimBani Qasimthe sons of Qasim
BenidormBani ?Spanish place name
BenjumedaBani ?Spanish place name
BentariqueBani Tariiq (بني طريق)the sons of Tariiq
BiarBiyaara (بيارة)Spanish place name
Birzali (surname) probably from Berber meaning ‘worthy one’
BobastroBab Shatr (ببشتر)Spanish place name
BoltañaBarntaa’iiyya (بربتانية)Spanish place name
BragaAfraagha (أفراغة‏)Spanish place name
BurgosBurgash (برغش)???
CabraQabra (قبرة)goat’s young, kid
Caceres (surname)QaSirish (قصرش)???
Cadiz (surname)Qadis (قادس)Spanish place name
CalahorraQal’at al-HajaarHagar’s castle
CalatañazorQal’at an-Nasurcastle of eagles
CalatayudQal’at al-Ayyub (ايوب قلعة)Job’s castle
CalatravaQal’at RabaH (رباح قلعة)Rabah’s Castle
CalsenaQalshaana (قلشانة)Spanish place name
Carmona (surname)Qarmoona (قرمونة)Spanish place name
Cartagena (surname)QarTaajina (قرطاجنة)Spanish place name
Castellano (surname)Qashtaala (قشتالة‏)Spanish place name
Catalonia (surname)Kataaloona (كتالونة)Spanish place name
Catalonia (surname)QaTalooniyya (قطلونية)Spanish place name
CiezaSiyaasa (سياسة)Spanish place name
ChinchillaJinjaalah (جنجالة)Spanish place name
Cid (surname)Sidi or SayyidSir, Noble, Mr.
ComaresQumaarish (قمارش)Spanish place name
ConstantinaQusTanTeena (قسطنطينة)Spanish place name
Cordoba (surname)Qurtuba (قرطبة)Spanish place name
CoriaQooriyya (قورية)Spanish place name
CuencaQawinqa (قونقة)Spanish place name
Daniaad-Dani or Dunya???
DarocaDaruqa (دروقة)Spanish place name
DeniaDaniyyah (دانية)Spanish place name
DueroDu’ira (دويرة)name of river in Spain
Ebro (river)Ibrah (أبرة)name of river in Spain
ElcheAlsh (ألش)Spanish place name
ElviraIlbira (إلبيرة)Spanish place name
ÉnovaYaanuba (يانبة)Spanish place name
EvoraYabra, Yaabbura (يابرة)Spanish place name
FrigilianaFarajaala (فرجالة)Spanish place name
Fronteraal-Faranteera (الفرنتيرة)The territory between Christians and Muslims in Moorish Spain
GaliciaJaliqiyya (جليقية)Spanish place name
Galván (surname)al-Qalb[the heart]
Garcia (surname)Garsiyyahagricultural
GenilShaneel (شنيل)name of a river
GeronaJirona (جرندة)Spanish place name
GibraltarJabal Tariq (جبل طارق)[Tariq’s Mountain — named after Tariq ibn Ziyad] Currently a British Colony in Southern Spain
GranadaGharnatah (غرناطة)pomegranate
GuadalajaraWadi al-Hijarah (الحجارة وادي)[Stony River or Valley of the Stones] City and province of Castilla la Mancha
Guadalaviar (surname)Wadi al-Abyad (الأبيض وادي)White River
GuadalbacarWadi al-Baqar (البقر وادي)River of the Cow
Guadalbanar(surname)Wadi al-Fanaar (الفنار وادي)Lighthouse River
Guadalcázar (surname)Wadi al-Qasr (القصر وادي)River of the Castle
GuadalertinWadi aT-Teen (الطين وادي)River of Figs
GuadalertinWadi at-Tin (وادي التين )River of Mud
Guadalhorra (surname)Wadi al-Ghar (الغار وادي)River of the Cave
GuadalimarWadi al-Ahmar (الأحمر وادي)Red River
GuadalquitonWadi al-Qitt (وادي القط )Cat’s River
GuadalquivirWadi al-Kabir (الكبير وادي)Great River or Great Valley
GuadalviarWadi al-Abyad (الأبيض وادي)White River
Guadalupe (surname)Wadi al-Lupus (الذئب وادي)Wolf’s River
GuadarranqueWadi ar-Ramka (الرمكة وادي)Mare’s River
GuadianaWadi Ana (وادي)Anna or Hanna River
GuadixWadi Ashi (وادي آش)Spanish place name
GuarromanWadi ar-Rumaan (وادي الرمان)Pomegranate River
Guzmán (surname)Uthmaan 
HuescaWashqa (وشقة)Spanish place name
Ibiza (surname)Yaabisa (يابسة)Spanish place name
Jaén (surname)Jayyaan (جيان)crossroads of caravans City and province of Andalucía
JativaShaatiba (شاطبة)Spanish place name
Jerez (surname)Sharish (شريش)Spanish place name
La Manchaal-Mansha[land without water] The wide and arid steppes covering much of Toledo, Ciudad Real, Cuenca and Albacete provinces.
Laredo (surname)Laarida (لاردة)Spanish place name
La Sagraas-Sahra (صحراء)[the desert] an arid region between Toledo and Madrid
León (surname)Li’oon (ليون)Spanish place name
Lisbon/LisboaIshbuna (أشبونة)Capital of Portugal
LojaLusha (لوشة)Spanish place name
LorcaLoorqa (لورقة)Spanish place name
Los Pedrochesal-Baloot FaHas (فحص البلوط)Plain of oaks/acorns
LucenaLisaana (ليسانة)language
MadridMajriT (مجريط)[breeze; source of water] Capital of Spain
MalagaMalaqah (مالقة)Spanish place name
Mallorca (surname & place name)Mayoorqa (ميورقة)???
MarbellaMarbilla (مربيلة)Spanish place name
MarroquinMarrakeshfrom Morocco
Mayorca (surname & place name)Mayoorqa (ميورقة)???
Medina (surname)Madinahcity
MedinaceliMadinat as-Salim (سالم مدينة)City of Salim (peace)
MedinaSidonia ???Town and municipality in Cadiz province
MeridaMaarida (ماردة)Spanish place name
MertolaMartula (مرتلة)Spanish place name
MinorcaMinoorqa (منورقة)Spanish place name
MontanchezMoontaant Sheesh(مونتانتشيث)Spanish place name
MontleonMuntli’oon (منتلون)Spanish place name
MorónMuroor (مورور)Spanish place name
MotrilMuTreel (مطريل)Spanish place name
Mulhacén Highest mountain in Spain. Named after the 15th century Sultan of Granada, Abu al-Hasan Ali Muley Hacén.
Mosquea (surname)Masjidmosque
Mosqueda (surname)Masjidmosque
NájeraNaajira (ناجرة)Spanish place name
NavarroNabaara (نبارة)Spanish place name
NeiblaLabla (لبلة)Spanish place name
OretoAriiT (أريط)Spanish place name
Padilla (surname)Abd’illah (عبدالله)servant of God
PamplonaBanbaloona (بنبلونة)Spanish place name
PechinaBijaa’ina (بجانة)Spanish place name
PensicolaBin Shikula (بنشكلة)son of Shikula
PicoAlmanzorMountain in the Gredos Mountain range of central Spain. It is named after “Almanzor” or Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir, the defacto ruler of Al-Andalus in the late 10th and early 11th centuries.
PurchenaBurshaana (برشانة)Spanish place name
RondaRunda (رندة)Spanish place name
Rueda (de Jalón)RawiTa (روطة)Spanish place name
Sagrajasal-Zalaaqa (الزلاقة)Spanish place name
SalamancaShalamanqa (شلمنقة)Spanish place name
SalamancaTalamanka (طلمنكة)Spanish place name
Salobreña (surname)Shaloobiniyya (شلوبينية)Spanish place name
SaltesShalTeesh (شلطيش)Spanish place name
SantaremShantareen (شنترين)Spanish place name
SantaverShantabiriyya (شنتبرية)Spanish place name
Segovia (surname)Shiqoobiyya (شقوبية)Spanish place name
Segunda (surname)Shiqunda (شقندة)Spanish place name
Segura (surname)Shaqoora (شقورة)Spanish place name
SevillaIshbiliyya (أشبيلية)Spanish place name
SilvesShilb (شلب)Spanish place name
SidoniaShadoona (شذونة)Spanish place name
SimancasShaa’it Maa’ikash (شانت مانكش)Spanish place name
Tajo (river)at-Taaja (التاجة)Spanish place name
TacaronaTakarunaa (تاكرنا)Spanish place name
TalaveraTalabeera (طلبيرة)Spanish place name
TarragonaTarakoona (طراكونة)Spanish place name
TarazonaTarasoona (طرسونة)Spanish place name
TarifaTarif (طريف)Originally Jazeera Tarif or the island of Tarif, name of the first Muslim to land in Spain. He was a Berber by the name of Tarif ibn Malik. It is now a town in southern Spain.
Taveras (surname)Talabeera (طلبيرة)Spanish place name
TeruelTiru’eel (تيروال)Spanish place name
Toledo (surname)TuleeTa (طليطة)Spanish place name
TolosaTuloosha (طلوشة)Spanish place name
TortosaTurToosha (طرطوشة)Spanish place name
TrafalgarTaraf al-Gharb (الغرب طرف)cape of the cave or west
Trujillo (surname)Tirujilla (ترجلة)Spanish place name
TudelaTuTayla (تطيلة)Spanish place name
ÚbedaUbidah (أبذة)Spanish place name
UclesUqleesh (أقليش)Spanish place name
Valencia (surname)Balansiyya (بلنسية)Spanish place name
ValladolidBalad al-Walid (الوليد بلد)town of Walid
Vega (surname)Buq’ahfield
Ventura (surname)Ben Turason of Tura
Vera (surname)Beera (بيرة)Spanish place name
ZamoraSamura (سمورة)Spanish place name
Zaragoza (surname)SaraqusTa (سرقسطة)originally from Latin: Caesarea Augusta
Common Spanish First Names that come from Arabic