In X-Men Apocalypse, the villain is named En Sabah Nur, which I understand they wanted to mean the first one.

His name, which is written ان صباح نور in Arabic script, literally translates to The morning Light and not The morning light, which would mean the light of the morning.

As someone who studied Arabic language, I'm disappointed by the language they used. En Sabah Nur is The morning Light in Arabic, but the Ancient Egyptians were not Arab nor did they speak Arabic. Both the people and the language were limited to the Arabian peninsula until the 600's AD.

Why did the comic writers use an Arabic name and not a Hieratic one?

Hieratic evolved into Demotic, which roughly evolved into Coptic, still spoken today. Is it a writer mistake or was there a specific reason for it?

  • 2
    Because the comic writers aren't linguists, presumably.
    – JAB
    Apr 19, 2017 at 16:33
  • 1
    "literally translating to The morning Light and not The morning light" - Did you make a mistake typing this?
    – BlueMoon93
    Apr 19, 2017 at 16:34
  • @Yukina Spoonatte Not what you're asking about, but as it's, it doesn't translate to the morning light (It's close to "The morning is light" but missing "El"). The morning light would be "Nur El-Sabah".
    – madmada
    Apr 19, 2017 at 16:50
  • 1
    @madmada that's why I said The morning Light and not The morning light as The morning and Light two words and not a sentence. Apr 19, 2017 at 17:04
  • 1
    If this question is about the comics why are you asking on Movies & TV?
    – user23604
    Apr 19, 2017 at 17:14

2 Answers 2


The reason for the wrong translation is a writer mistake. However, in some places, his name has a closer translation to reality:

Baal named the infant En Sabah Nur, literally meaning "The First Morning Holy Light", and raised him as his own son.

From the wiki,

According to Marvel, the name translates as "The First One" (although, in reality, the translation is considered grammatically incorrect).

You are correct in your translation.

According to the writers at Marvel, "En Sabah Nur" translates to "The First One" in Arabic. However, the phrase actually translates into something more akin to "Good Morning". The reason is that the term is grammatically incorrect, as it should be "Sabah an-Nur", assuming that was what the Marvel writers were shooting for. It can also mean "The Seven Lights"; with "Sabah" literally meaning "seven" and "Nur" meaning "light" in Arabic. This is interesting for Islam depicts the eternal afterlife as having seven heavens. Since Apocalypse was born thousands of years before modern Arabic existed, this must either be a translation of his true name, or it is a name in Proto-Semitic that simply coincidentally resembles Arabic words. "En Sabah Nur" can also mean "birth of light", "Awakened Light",and (in literal sense) "Dawn".

In-universe, the name is actually

from a fictional unknown language which assumes an old lost language, as it does not translate correctly in real life.

So don't bother too much about the origins of the name. Most likely, the authors didn't work too hard for historical accuracy.

Disclaimer: I don't know arabic at all! Just quoting what I found in the wikipedia by (I assume) actual translators or speakers of the language.

  • 1
    I know those "translations" are from sources but they're not accurate at all. For it to be "The First Morning Holy Light" you have to add 2 words and "El=The" and remove "In". "The First One" is not even remotely close. Sabah doesn't mean "seven", it's a different word have only 1 letter in common (and 2 can sound similar to non natives). Maybe they meant "Sabah El-nur = Good morning" or "Nur El-sabah = The morning light" or something else entirely "That morning light" (The literal meaning of the three words when you translate them individually from Arabic and rearrange them), but messed up.
    – madmada
    Apr 19, 2017 at 17:34

In the days of future past stinger, we are shown Apocalypse coming to Egypt with many powers already acquired and horsemen in tow. On apocalypse we are also told he goes by many names. And that he has to rejuvenate often.

There is no indication that En Sabah Nur is an ancient Egyptian name or given to him by them. He likely received it before those events. Notice that he learned English by observing it quickly.

The out of universe origin of the name comes from the source material, comics. Where the name changes often.

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