Disclaimer: This write-up may contain affiliate links. We might earn a tiny commission for purchases do through links in this post, at no extra expense to you. Where did the expression “Open Sesame” Come From?We’ve most likely all heard that the expression “open sesame” – in fact, the expression has end up being such a component of our everyday lexicon that us say that all the time without really thinking about it. However where go the phrase come from? and what go it really mean?  The phrase “open sesame” comes from the standard story Ali Baba and also the forty Thieves, indigenous the book One Thousand and also One Nights. Most human being understand the phrase to be favor a command, miscellaneous to it is in said as soon as asking for something to be opened. The true writer of Ali Baba is contested. Keep analysis for more about the expression “open sesame” – what the phrase really means, whereby it came from, and why some world insist it’s pronounced “open claims me” instead.  


Where the expression “Open Sesame” come From

Ali Baba and the fourty Thieves, one of the story from the book One Thousand and also One Nights, source the phrase “open sesame.”  Most of us are familiar with the story the the impoverished woodcutter Ali Baba and also his discovery of a cavern filled through the steal treasure of forty men. Ali Baba deserve to open the cave door by utilizing the magic expression “open sesame” and close the cavern entrance v a similar command: “close sesame”.  When Ali Baba takes some of the thieves’ treasure, they hunt him under to safeguard their secret, however Ali Baba foils the leader of the thieves’ dastardly plan with the assist of Morgiana, a very cunning slave-girl.  

Who created Ali Baba and the fourty Thieves?

Interestingly, while the collection of stories well-known to united state as One Thousand and One Nights has actually existed for numerous centuries, not all of the renowned stories we know today, such together Ali Baba and also the fourty Thieves and also Aladdin, were in the original Arabic collections.  Ali Baba and also the fourty Thieves was in reality in the collection of short stories by Antoine Galland, who interpreted the book to French in the early on 1700s (the first known translate in of the source material to one more language).  According come Galland, that heard the tale from Hanna Diyab, a Syrian seller and storyteller. That is believed that Diyab may have authored the story that Ali Baba and also the forty Thieves himself due to the fact that it had never previously showed up in any type of other versions of One Thousand and also One Nights. Diyab was also known as a creative storyteller in his very own right.  However, part scholars carry out still believe that Galland created the tale of Ali Baba himself.  

What does “Open Sesame” Mean?

In our modern understanding the the phrase, “open sesame” generally way “please deserve to you open this” or “open this now.”  However, there’s right now no main explanation that what the expression means, although there are number of theories. It’s crucial to note that the background behind the meaning of the phrase “open sesame” and the background of Ali Baba and the fourty Thieves itself is muddled, to say the least.  Maybe one day we will have a concrete explanation, however for now, below are 3 of the the strongest (and most interesting) theories.  

Some believe the phrase To be Hebrew in Origin

One possible theory about the definition of the phrase “open sesame” is the it in reality relates to words “password.” This is due to the fact that the indigenous “sesame” sounds very comparable to the Hebrew word סיסמה (sisma), i m sorry is pronounced as “sees-ma”, and way in a general sense “password.”  The theory is supported by the fact that Ali Baba supplies the phrase to open the magical door that the cavern hiding the endowment of the fourty thieves – as if he’s making use of a password to acquire inside.  However, this concept isn’t correct. Despite the words perform sound similar, they no related. Sesame is actually a word through Greek and Latin origins and has the same an interpretation that we understand today – it’s simply the seeds of the sesame plant. 

The Phrase could Literally describe Sesame Seeds

One really literal theory around the definition of the phrase “open sesame” is the the phrase is actually a direct reference come sesame seeds, albeit in a symbolic sense. As soon as Ali Baba is saying “open sesame” to the cave door, he is referring to how sesame seeds pods open to reveal their bounty.  Another way the phrase can literally be linked to sesame seeds is with the Babylonian practice of utilizing sesame particle oil ritualistically.  However, while it’s the occupational of English scholar to check out symbolic definition in literature, it appears unlikely that the expression “open sesame” in reality relates to sesame seeds. 

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A statue of the brother Grimm in Germany

The Phrase might Even be Germanic

Similiberg is a very old German story, built up as part of the brothers Grimm’s fairy tales. It speak a similar story to Ali Baba and also the fourty Thieves, however the sweetheart is surprise not in a cave; this time the in a mountain. To accessibility the treasure, the brothers speak to the mountain “Berg Semsi, Berg Semsi, tu dich auf,” which method “Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, open.” If we’re to believe some scholars, this Germanic story may have actually been Antoine Galland’s impetus for Ali Baba and the forty Thieves rather of the story told by Diyab. In this case, maybe “open sesame” yes, really relates back to “semsi” – an old Germanic term because that “mountain.” 

Why execute Some composed Versions that the Story use the expression “Open, O Simsim?”

If you have read a variation of Ali Baba and also the forty Thieves in English, girlfriend likely have been analysis the Richard Burton translation. And, many likely, that variation will have Ali Baba utter the phrase “open, O Simsim” to the door rather of anything to carry out with words “sesame.” Why is that different? Well, in the French version of the story by Galland, Ali Baba states “Sésame, ouvre toi!” This is whereby the “sesame” part of the expression came from. As soon as Burton interpreted this into English, the expression was changed to “open, O Simsim,” i beg your pardon is the English translation of the Arabic word for “sesame.”  

Isn’t the phrase Actually “Open says Me”?

If you’re among the countless people that swear the “open sesame” is really expected to it is in pronounced as “open states me,” you have Popeye the sailor to thank.  In the 1937 cartoon quick Popeye the seafarer Meets Ali Baba’s fourty Thieves, the titular sailor at one point ends increase stuck down a well, tied to a rope hanging over shark-infested waters (just a continual day because that a cartoon). Popeye, of course, depends on his spinach-fuelled stamin to acquire him out of danger, and utters the expression “open, says me!” to the have the right to of spinach he has conveniently been carrying roughly with the on his travels.  When Popeye claims “open, says me,” it’s obviously to plan to be a joke, a riff on the famed phrase indigenous the story the cartoon is parodying. However, this joke has stuck around and become something of a etymological legend – many world think it’s how the phrase is to plan to it is in said.  Watch the video clip below and see the joke in question for yourself: https://youtu.be/miw_Jw7j2sE?t=892 

Final Words 

The expression “open sesame” has transcended its resource material and found a firm place in the day-to-day language of ours world. It may never be fully clear what specifically the phrase way or whereby the initial story of Ali Baba and also the fourty Thieves come from. What we do know, however, is that the phrase is in no risk of disappearing and also that people are still making use of it in conversation every single day. 


Wisdom house Schooling: analysis 12: Ali Baba and the forty Thieves – Arabian NightsStackExchange: beginning of the phrase “Open Sesame”Wikipedia: open SesameWikipedia: SesameGrimms’ Fairy Tales: Simeli mountainWikipedia: One Thousand and also One NightsThe Paris Review: open up SesameWikipedia: Popeye the seafarer Meets Ali Baba’s forty ThievesYoutube: POPEYE THE seafarer MAN: Meets Ali Baba’s forty Thieves (1937) (Remastered)Wikipedia: Hanna DiyabWikipedia: Antoine GallandBalashon-Hebrew Language Detective: open up sesame and also sisma 

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