Etymology of Maaloula

3. Maaloula > 3.1. Etymology of Maaloula

Maˁlūlā is an ancient Aramaic name, derived from the Aramaic root ʕLL ‘to enter’.

The closest words to the name Maaloula can be found in Christian Palestinian Aramaic: MʕYWLʔ ‘entrance’ and ʕLWLʔ ‘one who enters’.
The last word ʕLWLʔ has been preserved as the name of the gate through which water flows to the waterwheel of the watermills in Maaloula. Also, the verb ʕLL and its conjugations are still used in Maaloula.

Maaloula obviously got its name from its famous narrow gorges, the eastern and western ones.
Some argue that Maˁlūlā is an Arabic name. However, this claim is highly dubious and has no evidence to support it.

Please write Maaloula’s name as follows in order to preserve its identity, make matters easier for researchers and avoid the dispersion of information:

  • معلولا in Arabic.
  • Maaloula in English and French …
  • Maalula in German and Italian …

The people of Maaloula are referred to as Maaloulians in English.

The name is also transcribed as معلولة، معلوله, Ma’loula, Ma’lula, Maloula, Malula… However, having a lot of transcriptions is not a good thing at all, and they are grammatically incorrect.

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Figure 3.1: Maaloula 2010 {© Rimon Wehbi}

Rimon Wehbi   19/05/2021

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