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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Saracen \Sar"a*cen\, n. [L. Saracenus perhaps fr. Ar. sharqi, pl. sharqi[=i]n, Oriental, Eastern, fr. sharaqa to rise, said of the sun: cf. F. sarrasin. Cf. Sarcenet, Sarrasin, Sirocco.] Anciently, an Arab; later, a Mussulman; in the Middle Ages, the common term among Christians in Europe for a Mohammedan hostile to the crusaders.

Saracens' consound (Bot.), a kind of ragwort ( Senecio Saracenicus), anciently used to heal wounds.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

Old English, "an Arab" (in Greek and Roman translations), also, mid-13c., generally, "non-Christian, heathen, pagan," from Old French saracin, from Late Latin saracenus, from Greek sarakenos, usually said to be from Arabic sharquiyin, accusative plural of sharqiy "eastern," from sharq "east, sunrise," but this is not certain. In medieval times the name was associated with that of Biblical Sarah (q.v.).Peple þat cleped hem self Saracenys, as þogh þey were i-come of Sarra [John of Trevisa, translation of Higdon's Polychronicon, 1387]The name Greeks and Romans gave to the nomads of the Syrian and Arabian deserts. Specific sense of "Middle Eastern Muslim" is from the Crusades. From c.1300 as an adjective. Related: Saracenic; and compare sarsen.


Saracen was a term widely used among Christian writers in Europe during the Middle Ages. The term's meaning evolved during its history. In the early centuries AD, Greek and Latin writings used this term to refer to the people who lived in desert areas in and near the Roman province of Arabia, and who were specifically distinguished as a people from others known as Arabs. In Europe during the Early Medieval era, the term came to be associated with Arab tribes as well. By the 12th century, "Saracen" had become synonymous with "Muslim" in Medieval Latin literature. Such expansion in the meaning of the term had begun centuries earlier among the Byzantine Romans, as evidenced in documents from the 8th century. In the Western languages before the 16th century, "Saracen" was commonly used to refer to Muslim Arabs, and the words "Muslim" and "Islam" were generally not used (with a few isolated exceptions).

Saracen (TV series)

Saracen is a 1989 British television drama series. Made for ITV by Central Television, it starred Christian Burgess and Patrick James Clarke in the title roles. 13 episodes were made which were shown throughout the autumn of 1989.

Saracen (disambiguation)
Not to be confused with Sarsen, a sandstone block.

Saracen is a European medieval term for Muslims, adopted from Latin.

Saracen or Saracens may also refer to:

Saracen (comics)

Saracen is a fictional villain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is usually depicted as an enemy of the antihero the Punisher. He was created by Mike Baron and Erik Larsen, and first appeared in The Punisher Vol. 2, #22 (August 1989)

Usage examples of "saracen".

Saracen, Algerine, Barbary - they were all pirates and had been for centuries, whether they came from the Levant in the east or Algiers in the west.

In the armoury could be seen, between banners and the heads of wild beasts, weapons of all nations and of all ages, from the slings of the Amalekites and the javelins of the Garamantes, to the broad-swords of the Saracens and the coats of mail of the Normans.

In the course of his trade to India, he had formed very intimate connections with the Saracens and the Blemmyes, whose situation on either coast of the Red Sea gave them an easy introduction into the Upper Egypt.

But more boatloads came from the shore, and the Saracens were but few, worn also with storm and sickness, so at last Rosamund, peeping beneath her hand, saw that the poop was gained.

As we approach the seacoast, the well-known cities of Bugia and Tangier define the more certain limits of the Saracen victories.

Strangers to the name and properties of that odoriferous gum, the Saracens, mistaking it for salt, mingled the camphire in their bread, and were astonished at the bitterness of the taste.

The marshal at once ordered the cross bowmen to shoot the fellow down, but as they raised their weapons to their shoulder there was a loud explosion that almost deafened them and flame leaped from a strange thing that the Saracen held against his shoulder and pointed at them.

In the orchard, wearing his Saracen djellaba and Toledan cap, the Marquis was taking his siesta in the hammock, his entire body covered by orange blossoms.

But the friendship of Heraclius and Mahomet was of short continuance: the new religion had inflamed rather than assuaged the rapacious spirit of the Saracens, and the murder of an envoy afforded a decent pretence for invading, with three thousand soldiers, the territory of Palestine, that extends to the eastward of the Jordan.

The event of the siege revived, both in the East and West, the reputation of the Roman arms, and cast a momentary shade over the glories of the Saracens.

God only knew what over the blades of the Amazon sword plant, settling on the Madagascar lace where the recent wave of immigrants seemed to have thinned considerably since their arrival as a glittering turquoise discus passed trailing a shred of black skirt from its jaws and the sea horses, gliding past the walls of the castle with all the diminutive rectitude of the knights of King Richard the Lionhearted raising the siege at Acre, only for it to fall once again to the gleaming ranks of the Saracens a century later ending the last Crusade and, with it, the kingdom of Jerusalem, were now nowhere to be seen.

At the time of our passing through, it was an adjunct of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, or what still remained of that kingdom, which has since fallen entirely under the rule of the Mamluk Saracens.

As the single-hearted Scottishman had never for a moment doubted these gods of the ancient Gentiles to be actually devils, so he now hesitated not to believe that the blasphemous hymn of the Saracen had raised up an infernal spirit.

But now the Seljukian Turks are emerging from the depths of Asia, taking the place of the degenerate Saracens, invading the Eastern empire and conquering Jerusalem.

But in this expedition or pilgrimage, his power was exercised in the administration of justice: he reformed the licentious polygamy of the Arabs, relieved the tributaries from extortion and cruelty, and chastised the luxury of the Saracens, by despoiling them of their rich silks, and dragging them on their faces in the dirt.