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What geographical eponym was evoked by the North-African corsair Khair ad-Din?

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Answer: Barbary Coast

An eponym is a word or phrase derived from someone's name. Khair ad-Din's nickname was Red-beard, which in Italian is Barbarossa; this ultimately derives from the Greek barbaros, foreign or strange.

According to "Barbarossa (c.1483-1546), having seized Algiers from the Spanish, placed [it] under Turkish suzerainty [i.e., a position of strong authority, but not quite control - sort of like Canadian comedy's relationship with the US: we have a strong authority over American comedy, but we don't as yet have complete control].

He [then] extended his conquests to the rest of the Barbary States [Tripoli, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco].

Between 1533 and 1544, as admiral of the Turkish fleet under Sulayman I [a Turk], he twice defeated Andrea Doria [an Italian] and ravaged the coasts of Greece, Spain, and Italy."

Note: A corsair is either a Barbary-Coast pirate or a Barbary-Coast pirate ship.


Probably too late to add a comment on this item and its feedback - no one seemed to pick up on HOW barba(rossa) is related to barbarian. The Romans generally went clean shaven, associating all "bearded ones" with foreigners, i.e. barbarians, the uncivilized and unkempt of the outer empire.
slundgren at

Is Barbarossa a Greek phrase? I speak Italian and I know it means "red beard" in Italian. I also know that "beard" ("barba") has Latin roots. So I am surprised it is Greek, as well. Hmmm....

[Mootguy: The word derives from the Latin barbaria, foreign country, which itself derives from the Greek barbaros, foreign or strange.]
dmgruberlanguages at

All nice and good, but Barbarossa is not Greek but latin for "red beard". Just to clear the misconception... John Dask Toronto [Mootguy: Change made. Thanks for the feedback.]
jdask at

In response to your comment about "barbaria," are you saying that "barbarossa" and "barbarian/ous" are etymologically related?

It's not clear from your comment. According to the Online Etymological Dictionary, they're not. Futhermore, "barbaria" (from which the name Barbary Coast comes) ultimately derives from the Proto-Indo-European reduplicative word "barbar," which is "echoic of unintelligible speech of foreigners (cf. Skt. barbara- "stammering," also "non-Aryan")."

Clearly nothing to do with "red beard" and light years before the sixteenth century. Nonetheless, the Barbarossa story is entertaining.
jacko at

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