1847, "Jew, Arab, Assyrian, Aramæan," from Mod.L. Semita, from L.L. Sem "Shem," one of the three sons of Noah (Gen. x:21-30), regarded as the ancestor of the Semites (in the days when anthropology was still bound by the Bible), from Heb. Shem.Semitic (1813 of languages, 1826 of persons) is probably from Ger. semitisch (first used by Ger. historian August Schlözer, 1781), denoting the language group that includes Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, Assyrian, etc. In recent use often with the specific sense "Jewish," but not historically so limited.