Arts Our Debt To Arabic
posted by September 26 at 9:00 AMon
The most that we owe to the language of Arabs is for the word “zero”:
zero 1604, from It. zero, from M.L. zephirum, from Arabic sifr “cipher,” translation of Skt. sunya-m “empty place, desert, naught” (see cipher). A brief history of the invention of “zero” can be found here. Meaning “worthless person” is recorded from 1813. The verb zero in is 1944, from the noun, on the notion of instrument adjustments. Zero tolerance first recorded 1972, originally U.S. political language.