What is the origin (etymology) of the word مسدس (pistol)?


In Arabic the word مُسَدَّس refers to pistol when an arm is meant (see here on wikipedia).

But it also refers to a hexagon (see here on wikipedia) -also سداسي أضلاع or سداسي- as it is a description of a geometrical object that has six edges.

As the number:

six سِتَّة

while anything related to this number might be:


I wonder if there's a connection between the word مُسَدَّس (pistol) and the number six and what it is?

I must guess maybe the first pistol had six bullets and that's why Arabs named it so, but I want so clarity.

Why should this post be closed?


1 answer


In English, "pistol" might primarily mean pretty much any single shot handgun, and only by extension the word my also be used to mean a revolver which can shoot several times, for example six times, before reloading.

In Arabic, it's the opposite. مُسَدَّس primarily means a "sixshooter", and only by extension, the word can refer to any revolver whatsoever, and even to a pistol which isn't a revolver.

The (historical) root of the word is S-D-S, meaning indeed six. You might enjoy seeing how an old cognate word (Akkadian for "six") was written in cuneiform, long before any handguns were available: 𒐋

The prefix مُ (this is copy and pasted from the right hand side, therefore from the beginning of مُسَدَّس) has meanings like "he who (does)", "the place which (does)", "the thing which (does)". Therefore مُسَدَّس could be loosely interpreted as "the thing which acts six times". But it means a "sixshooter" or by extension any other pistol.

Caveat: I don't speak any Arabic. I have started from here:مسدس#Etymology


Sign up to answer this question »

This site is part of the Codidact network. We have other sites too — take a look!

You can also join us in chat!

Want to advertise this site? Use our templates!