c.1500, from O.Fr. Arabic
(13c.), from L. Arabicus
"Arabic" (see Arab
). Originally in ref. to gum arabic
. Arabic numerals
(actually Indian) first attested 1727; they were introduced in Europe by Gerbert of Aurillac (later Pope Sylvester II) after a visit to Islamic Spain in 967-970. A prominent man of science, he taught in the diocesan school at Reims, but the numbers made little headway against conservative opposition in the Church until after the Crusades. The earliest depiction of them in Eng., in "The Crafte of Nombrynge" (c.1350) correctly identifies them as "teen figurys of Inde."