It's clear just by looking at the word kebab that it's not of Indo-European origin. As with many foodstuffs, the etymology of the word follows a similar geographic path as the history of the product's diffusion. So here, we get kebab from Turkish kebap (from whence siskebap, the precursor of shish kebab). This may have passed through an Iranian but Indo-European language in Urdu or Persian, but ultimately traces to Arabic kabab. Here, the noun becomes a verb as we travel further back in time to Aramaic, where kabab sounded like kbb and meant "the action of roasting meat", which most of the time is done on a stick. The Aramaic word is then from a completely hypothesized Afro-Asiatic root kab, meaning "to burn", or possibly just "burnt". It's pretty cool here how kebab travels through three separate language families to get where it is right now.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.