Hardly among the most common Spanish words now, the adarme was ‘a unit of weight equal to one-sixteenth of an onza,’ which makes the adarme about 179 centigrams. Less precisely, Spanish has used the word to mean ‘a small or minimal portion of something,’ and the phrase por adarmes means ‘in small or minimal quantities; stingily.’ Spanish took adarme from the Arabic spoken in Spain, but the Classical Arabic dirham from which that developed was actually a borrowing of Greek drakhme. We’ve carried over the Greek original as the dracma/drachma that was an ancient Greek silver coin and, until the euro came to modern Greece, that country’s currency unit.

© 2010 Steven Schwartzman


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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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