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Etymology 1[edit]

From Arabic فَلَّاح(fallāḥ, peasant), from Classical Syriac ܦܠܚܐ(worker; peasant). Attested since 1743.


fellah (plural fellahs or fellahin or fellaheen)

  1. A peasant, farmer or agricultural laborer in the Middle East and North Africa.
    • 1920, Archibald Sayce, “Cairene and Upper Egyptian Folk-Lore” in Folk-Lore 31 p. 176
      Religion long kept the two races, Arab and Egyptian, apart, and when eventually the Christian fellaḥ in the neighbourhood of Cairo had become Mohammedan, the Mohammedan Arab had become a townsman with a townsman’s sense of superiority over the country bumpkin.
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses:
      It has the prophetic vision. Fuit Ilium! The sack of windy Troy. Kingdoms of this world. The masters of the Mediterranean are fellaheen today.
    • 1957, Lawrence Durrell, Justine:
      Before her, seated half-crouching upon a wicker chair, was a big-breasted sphinx-faced fellah girl, with her skirt drawn up above her waist to expose some choice object of my friend's study.
    • 1955, Paul Bowles, The Spider's House:
      All of them were crudely caricatured scenes of life among Moslems: a schoolmaster, ruler in hand, presiding over a class of small boys, a fellah ploughing, a drunk being ordered out of a bar.
    • 1977, Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace, New York Review Books 2006, p. 39:
      It differed from the Ulema both in a more modernistic interpretation of Islamic dogma and in its social demands, which included the redistribution of land among the fellahs.

Etymology 2[edit]

Representing an eye dialect pronunciation of fellow.


fellah (plural fellahs)

  1. Alternative spelling of fella