bed·​ou·​in ˈbe-də-wən How to pronounce bedouin (audio)
variants or less commonly beduin
plural bedouin or bedouins also beduin or beduins
often capitalized
: a nomadic Arab of the Arabian, Syrian, or northern African deserts

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Arabic-speaking desert nomads of the Middle East are known as bedouin. Ethnically, the bedouin are identical to other Arabs. Bedouin social rank is determined by the animals they herd: camel nomads are most prestigious, followed by sheep and goat herders, and finally cattle nomads. Traditionally, bedouin migrated into the desert during the rainy season and returned to cultivated areas during the dry season, but since World War II some national governments have nationalized their range lands and conflicts over land use have arisen, and many groups have settled. Most, however, retain pride in their nomadic heritage.

Examples of bedouin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There are tons of activities here, including falconry, dune bashing, and an overnight bedouin adventure. Jim Dobson, Forbes, 9 Dec. 2021 There's a state-of-the-art DJ station and a many-cushioned bedouin tent—both of which attest to the tastes of the boat's owner, Cirque du Soleil cofounder Guy Laliberté (who has since sold Tiara). Darrell Hartman, Condé Nast Traveler, 23 Aug. 2021 What about the bedouin in the desert regions of North Africa? Rhett Allain, WIRED, 9 July 2019 In one corner, Bedouins glide on camels across a void of Sheetrock, while, in another, Sherlock Holmes grapples to the death with Professor Moriarty on the lip of a high shelf. Southern Living, 1 May 2017 Bedouins have increasingly identified with the struggles of Palestinians, including their fight against Jewish settlements in the West Bank. William Booth, Orange County Register, 18 Jan. 2017 Before the discovery of vast natural gas reserves off Qatar's coast that crowned the small Gulf peninsular country with skyscrapers, bedouin roamed the desert and depended on meat and milk from camels to survive. Author: Ibrahim Saber, Tom Finn, Alaska Dispatch News, 20 June 2017 The documentary is based on letters and communiqués — Tilda Swinton is the voice of Bell — that follow her from the aristocracy and drizzle of Yorkshire, England, to the scoured, arid expanses of tribesmen, Bedouins and sheikhs. Jeffrey Fleishman,, 8 June 2017 Previous travelers—Nabateans, bedouins—had scratched inscrutable symbols onto the stones. Saki Knafo, Smithsonian, 5 May 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bedouin.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English Bedoyne, from Middle French bedoïn, from Arabic badawī desert dweller, from badw desert, desert dwellers

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bedouin was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near bedouin

Cite this Entry

“Bedouin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


bed·​ou·​in ˈbed(-ə)-wən How to pronounce bedouin (audio)
plural bedouin or bedouins
often capitalized
: a nomadic Arab of the Arabian, Syrian, or north African deserts

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