Arabian, Arab and Arabic are not freely applicable to the same things and are, consequently, often a source of confusion.
Arabian is used chiefly with reference to a place, the large peninsula in southwestern Asia which includes the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Thus, one speaks of the Arabian peninsula, desert, kingdoms, flora, fauna, history, intending in each case to convey a consciousness of geographic relationship.
Arab is used chiefly with reference to a people who still dwell in Arabia or their descendants who are common in northern, eastern, and central Africa, in Madagascar, India, and the Malay Archipelago, and in some parts of Syria and Persia.
The word, therefore, often implies characteristics or habits associated with Arabs (as a nomadic life, equestrian skill, or Muslim practices).
- Arab customs
- Arab descent
- Arab harems
Distinctively, an Arabian horse is a particular horse bred in or imported from Arabia whereas the Arab horse is the kind of horse bred and used by Arabs; an Arabian caravan travels in Arabia, an Arab caravan is made up of Arabs.
Arabic refers usually to a language, originally the language of the Arabs, but now used in several countries whose inhabitants are not exclusively Arab in origin (as Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and northern Africa).
- the Arabic language
Arabic is also applicable to a culture associated with the use of the Arabic language or to any manifestations of that culture.
- Arabic architecture
- Arabic numerals
Distinctively, Arab literature is the literature of Arabs whereas Arabian literature is produced specifically in Arabia and Arabic literature is written in Arabic.