If you have studied mathematics and science, you already know that many of those al words such as algebra, algorithm, alchemy, alcohol, and alkali are from Arabic. So are sine, zenith, nadir, zero, elixir, borax, and antimony.
When it comes to food and plants, we would be quite lost without sugar, syrup, albacore, alfalfa, apricot, artichoke, attar, candy, caraway, carob, coffee, lemon, lime, marzipan, orange, saffron, sherbet, sumac, tamarind, tarragon, and even spinach. All of these are words borrowed from or based on Arabic.
There are about two hundred English words that have Arabic roots. They range from the game of chess to types of cloth, including calico, cotton, mohair, muslin, satin, and even sequins. The variety of these borrowed words is surprising. They range from the names of famous stars (Betelgeuse and Deneb) to everyday items (mattress, magazine, sofa) to some animals (gerbil, gazelle, giraffe).
Few of these words came directly from the Arabic, however. Many of them hopscotched from place to place over the centuries until they arrived in France, whence they made their way to England. The French probably borrowed the words from Spain, which was part of the Arabic-speaking world for seven hundred years. The Arabs borrowed many words from the Persians (who speak Farsi) or India or China. This word transfer often took many years, sometimes centuries, and sometimes went as far back as the Greeks and Romans. For example, the Arabic word alchemy has Greek roots.
While some countries resist the invasions of foreign words in a loosing battle to keep their language “pure,” the English-speaking nations have always welcomed new words…as long as they’re useful. Today, we anglophones probably use two or three Arabic words every day.