"belonging to Arabia," early 14c., from Old French arabique (13c.) and directly from Latin Arabicus "Arabic" (see Arab). Old English used Arabisc "Arabish." Originally in reference to gum arabic. The noun meaning "Arabic language" (a Semitic tongue, the language of the Arabs and the Quran) is from late 14c.
Arabic numerals (actually Indian) first attested 1727; they were introduced in Europe by Gerbert of Aurillac (later Pope Sylvester II) after a visit to Islamic Spain in 967-970. A prominent man of science, he taught in the diocesan school at Reims, but the numbers made little headway against conservative opposition in the Church until after the Crusades. The earliest depiction of them in English, in "The Crafte of Nombrynge" (c. 1350) correctly identifies them as "teen figurys of Inde."
updated on September 24, 2022