A word that seems to be borrowed from Syriac, like the greater part of the terms that form the lexical stock of the Christian Arabs, and linked by the classical dictionaries to the root “d w r,” which suggests the idea of moving around in a circle. C. Brockelmann derives the Syriac word dayra from the Akkadian. However that may be, the word in Syriac describes a habitation in general, but may designate a sheepfold. It took on the specific sense of “monastery” (of cenobites).

It seems that it was also used to describe any dwelling place of Christians. The Coptic word raoue, which means “a town quarter, a neighborhood,” was also translated into Arabic by dayr, which leads one to suppose that the word had a fairly generic sense. The term dayr thus does not necessarily describe a habitation specifically of monks.

Coquin, R. G. Le de la consécration du sanctuaire de Benjamin. d’études coptes 13. Cairo, 1975. Crum, W. E. A Coptic Dictionary. Oxford, 1939; 2nd ed., 1962.