Definition of Saracen in English:



  • 1An Arab or Muslim, especially at the time of the Crusades.

    • ‘It was only after the final expulsion of the Saracens in about 1000 C.E., that people returned to living on the coast.’
    • ‘Much was lost in the 8th and 9th centuries as both the Saracens and the Byzantines took advantage of imperial and papal weakness.’
    • ‘It is also said that he appeared to the English King Richard I (the Lionheart) during his Crusade against the Saracens, which served as a great encouragement to the troops.’
    • ‘The banner of the Knights Templar fluttered over the burning plains of the Holy Land 800 years ago as Crusaders clashed with the Saracens.’
    • ‘Eleventh-century Europe - recovering from the invasions of Northmen, Saracens, and Hungarians - also saw the revival of the struggle between the papacy and the empire, and rapid development in finance and trade.’
    • ‘Moreover, the compass of his work is not so very different from Constantine's De administrando, namely, the Christian potentates and population centres of the Mediterranean, and the Saracens and others who harassed them.’
    • ‘Supposedly erected by a Knight of Blacas, who vowed to do so after falling foul to the Saracens during the crusades, the star has remained in place for almost 500 years.’
    • ‘The Crusades and their failures made western military men attentive to the multitudes of the Saracens.’
    • ‘In Europe, evidence for the use of drums is hazy before the 13th century, when small kettledrums and tabors of Arab or Saracen origin were brought back from the Crusades.’
    • ‘The ballet's ornate narrative pits a good Crusader against a bad Saracen for the hand of the radiant but indecisive heroine - and at considerable length.’
    • ‘The Gesta Francorum and other medieval chronicles describe how starving Europeans ate dead Saracens in the absence of any other sustenance during the First Crusade.’
    • ‘The city was eventually damaged when a group of Franks set fire to a mosque in the Saracen quarter and Alexius IV refused to make the promised payment.’
    • ‘As far as the pope was concerned, the barons of England were as bad as the Moslem Saracens themselves.’
    • ‘In 1016, in alliance with Pisa, Genoa drove the Saracens from Sardinia.’
    • ‘The film is set in the 12 century between the second and third Crusade when a truce exists between Saladin, the powerful ruler of the Saracens, and King Baldwin IV.’
    • ‘It went on to say that acceding to the English would be worse than being ruled by the Saracens.’
    • ‘The Crusader army was resting at Emmaus, when messengers arrived from Bethlehem requesting aid against the Saracens of the villages who were about to attack Bethlehem.’
    • ‘The origins of Gothic are obscure - the adoption of the pointed arch may well have stemmed from contact with the Saracens during the crusades - but probably lie in northern France during the late 12th and early 13th cents.’
    • ‘In the 12th century the concentric castle (one ring of defences enclosing another) was developed from the model of the castles built by the Crusaders, who themselves had copied the Saracens.’
    • ‘It is no surprise that contemporary authors usually depict the Saracens as ruthless pagans, although sometimes a more differentiated image may emerge.’
  • 2A nomad of the Syrian and Arabian desert at the time of the Roman Empire.

    • ‘Italy traded with the Saracens intensely and its southern tip was under Saracen rule.’
    • ‘Although there are references to Saracens, they are not the evil pagans of Crusade literature, but one of many groups who oppose the grail, and Wolfram does not mention the Crusades directly.’
    • ‘In Sicily, we have the Saracens, an Arab tribe from the Sinai.’
    • ‘Vikings from the north, Magyars from the east, and Saracens from the South plundered the continent.’
    • ‘When the Normans had driven the Saracens out of Sicily, Naples, along with southern Italy, came under Norman rule.’
    • ‘His narrative of storms, Saracens, and Greeks, his descriptions of sites linked with Helen and Paris as well as with Christ, vividly illustrate the wider world into which the English were now moving.’


Middle English, from Old French sarrazin, via late Latin from late Greek Sarakēnos, perhaps from Arabic šarqī eastern.