The role of metaphor in the generation of descriptive terms is a commonplace of lexicography. Agency is usually identified as analogy, and the transfer itself analysed in terms of real or imagined similarity, e.g. ‘goth’ = barbaric, ‘gypsy’ = migrant, ‘vandal’ = destructive. Strictly defined, these exemplify metonymy, a species of metaphor found particularly in toponyms and gentilics. Development of such epithets as'‘arab’, ‘deutsch’ and ‘sūdān’ may be seen as a complementary process, wherein the common attribute is given a specific referent. Thought it is no longer, since Jakobson, deemed quite proper to define metonymy as metaphor, a symbolic and often arbitrary element in the transfer might be thought to justify that interpretation, as for instance in the gentilic Iberian or the appellative Qadariyya. While ultimately of less significance than context, etymology is seldom neglected in such investigations, may, indeed, become a dominant feature, as in the perennial discussion of ḫāpirū: 'ibrī = ‘hebrew’. It is my intention in the following lines to examine the incidence and possible origins of an appellative well known from early Arabic historiography.