Habesha is a word used to refer to both Eritreans and Ethiopians, or, more specifically, to the Semitic-speaking inhabitants of those countries. The first inscription to refer to "Habesha" is a Sabaean South Arabian inscription ca. 200 AD referring to king GDRT of Aksum (an ancient Kingdom located in modern Ethiopia and Eritrea) as king of the city of Aksum and the "clans of Habesha." As Sabaic and Ge'ez (the ancient language and alphabet of Ethiopia, still used) it was unvocalized, it is written as "h.bs't" (put the dot under the h and the apostrophe on top of the s) and later as vocalized as h.abs'aat (put the dot under the h, apostrophe over the s, and make the two a's a long "a" - meaning an a with a line over it), which evolved into today's Habesha. The term was translated by the famous Christian King Ezana of Aksum in the mid 4th century as "Ethiopia" in Greek, which previously referred to Africa south of Egypt in general, or Nubia (in modern-day Sudan) in particular. The term is not, as commonly assumed, of Arabic origin, but of local Semitic origin. Spurious Arabic etymologies tend to connect the term with the meaning "mixed," on the false assumption that the peoples of the Horn of Africa are the product of African-Arab mixes.
The term was also used by the Turks as "Habesh" or "Habeshistan" to refer to their small territory taken from Ethiopia in 1557, comprising of the port cities of Massawa and Hergigo (Habeshistan also included Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, the capital of the province, Suwakin in Sudan, and Aden in Yemen).
Shamir of Dhu-Raydan and Himyar had called in the help of the clans of Habashat for war against the kings of Saba. (ancient Sabaic inscription)
Habesha nesh? (Amharic: Are you habesha? (to a female))
Prices shown in USD.
Type your email address below to get our free Urban Word of the Day every morning!
Emails are sent from email@example.com. We'll never spam you.