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plural -s
: a Coptic dialect formerly spoken in the northwestern Nile delta region including Alexandria and surviving in Coptic Christian liturgical use and as the language of the official Bible version of the Coptic Church


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: of, relating to, being, or composed in Bohairic

Word History



after German bohairisch, from Bohairah, vocalization of a medieval Arabic name for the western part of the Nile delta (from Arabic buḥaira, literally, "lake") + -ic entry 1; replacing earlier Bahiric, borrowed from French Bahirique, from Bahirah, alternate vocalization of Arabic buhaira

Note: German bohairisch was probably introduced by the Egyptologist Ludwig Stern (see his article "Sahidische Inschriften," Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altherthumskunde, 16. Jahrgang [1878], p. 23), further promulgated by its use in his Koptische Grammatik (Leipzig, 1880). Earlier French Bahirique may have been introduced by the French Orientalist Étienne Quatremère, in Recherches critiques et historiques sur la langue et la littérature de l'Égypte (Paris, 1808), p. 20 and following. Both Stern and Quatremère adopted the usage from the dialect divisions proposed by the medieval Coptic grammarian Athanasius of Quṣ. For details see the articles "Bashmuric" and "Athanasius" in the on-line Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia, based on the multi-author Coptic Encyclopedia (1991) edited by Aziz Atiya.

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Cite this Entry

“Bohairic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2024.

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