• Muslim •
Pronunciation: mêz-lêm • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun
Meaning: 1. (Adjective) Believing in Islam, a religion articulated by the Quran, or belonging to that religion. 2. (Noun) An adherent or believer in Islam.
Notes: The rather old-fashioned way of spelling this transliteration from Arabic is moslem. Mohammedan is a synonym that may also be spelled Muhammedan. Muslim is the preferred way to refer to this religion today. Islam is the second largest religion in the world and the fastest growing. It was established by Muhammad, who claimed to have spoken to God through the archangel Gabriel in the early 7th century.
In Play: Our use of this word is tightly restricted to its original sense: "The two largest denominations of Muslims are the Sunnis and the Shiites." It does not lend itself to figurative uses: "Dozens of Muslims gathered to celebrate Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year."
Word History: Today's Good Word is based on muslim "one who submits" a prefixed form of the root aslama "to resign". This word is related, unsurprisingly, to Islam, from Arabic 'islam "submission". These words go back to a common Semitic root šlm "to be whole, sound, which also produced Hebrew shalom and Arabic salaam "peace", common greetings in Israel and the Arabic states. It also turns up in the Hebrew names Solomon and Salome (We now thank Debbie Moggio for bringing these words to our attention to help our understanding of which form is the best Good Word.)