23 Nov 2010
Historically, these great British Isles, where I live, have a habit of being invaded. (Although, thankfully, not for some time.)
But that’s not all. The Brits, of course, love to “visit” other countries – whether we’re invited or not. And during the era of British rule in India (1612 – 1947) numerous words of Indian origin entered the English language.
These Indian words came from a variety of languages including Hindi, Urdu, Punajabi, Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi, Kashmir, Sindhi, and the sacred, ancient language Sanskrit.
And today, over 700 words in the Oxford English dictionary have Indian origin. Here are just a few of them:
Bandanna: From the Hindi word Bandhana meaning to tie.
Bangle: From the Hindi word Bangri meaning glass bracelet.
Bungalow: From the Hindi word Banla meaning “house in the Bengal style” or single story house.
Chit: From the Hindi word Chitthi meaning a slip of paper (used instead of money).
Cot: From the Hindi word Khat meaning portable bed, couch or hammock.
Cummerbund: From the Urdu word Kamar-band meaning waistband.
Cushy: From: the Hindi word Khush meaning happy, easy, pleasant.
Doolally: From the town of Deolali, the location of an army base and sanatorium where soldiers leaving India in the late 19th century were sent before leaving for home. Those that became mentally deranged after contacting a fever, or Tap in Urdu, were said to have gone Doolally Tap.
Guru: A Hindi word meaning spiritual leader or guide, teacher instructor. From the Sanskrit words Guruh meaning weighty, heavy, grave.
Khaki: An Urdu word meaning dusty or dust coloured.
Pundit: From the Hindi word Pandit meaning a learned man. From the Sanskrit word Panditah meaning learned scholar.
Pukka: From the Hindi words Pakka meaning cooked, solid, substantial.
Pyjamas or Pajamas: From the Urdu word payjamah meaning leg garment.
Shampoo: From the Hindi word Champo, meaning to press and massage.
Thug: From the Hindi word Thag meaning a thief or conman and the Sanskirt word Sthaga meaning robber.
Yoga: A Sanskrit word for the union of mind, body and spirit.
Any favourite Indian words? And Chicken Tikka Massala, Tarka Dal, Sag Aloo and Bhindi Bhaji don’t count!