a word in Arabic names meaning "family" or "the house of": Al-Saud, or the members of the house of Saud.
[ < Ar al family]

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Arabic definite article, meaning "the.

" It prefixes Arabic nouns, from which it is generally separated by a hyphen when rendered in Latin script. In Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, entries are alphabetized under the noun the article modifies (e.g., see Azhar University, al-).

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      Arabic definite article, meaning “the.” It often prefixes Arabic proper nouns, especially place-names; an example is Al-Jazīrah (Arabic: “The Island”), the name of an interfluvial region in The Sudan. The article is often used in lowercase form, hence al-Jazīrah. Reference works, including Encyclopædia Britannica, often alphabetize names beginning with al- under the main part of the name (thus, in the example, “Jazīrah, Al-”). Thirteen Arabic letters—the so-called sun letters, t, th, d, dh, r, z, s, sh, ṣ, ḍ, ṭ, ẓ, and n—assimilate the l of al- in pronunciation; thus, Ash-Shām (the colloquial Arabic name of Damascus), not Al-Shām.

      Care must be taken to avoid confusing the definite article al- meaning “the” with the form “Āl,” a different Arabic construction that is used to designate a family or tribal name. “Āl” is invariate and does not elide; thus, Āl Saʿūd, not Ās-Saʿūd. The form “Āl” is always romanized with a capital letter, irrespective of its position in an English sentence.

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Universalium. 2010.

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