Facts

32 English Words Originated From Hindi

Colonization changed the world in ways both good and bad. Cultures from all over the globe came into contact with each other and it wasn’t only the costumes or food that adopted changes from other cultures.

Even language saw a massive reconstruction in the wake of colonization. While English was made the language of administration in India, many people might not know that even the Englishmen added a few ‘desi’ words in their ‘angrezi’ vocab.

Hindi, being one of the prominent languages spoken in India, has influenced English with several words. Here are some English words that originated from Hindi.

32 English Words Originated From Hindi

1. Bungalow

  • Origin: Hindi – “Banglā”
  • Meaning: A low house, with a broad front porch, having either no upper floor or upper rooms set in the roof.

This English word was first introduced to the vocab in the 17th century when one-storied houses were being built for European settlers in Bengal.

The bungalow is derived from the Hindi word Bangla which means a cottage. Literally, it means a style belonging to Bengal. But the word was used for houses that were one story in height.

2. Shampoo

  • Origin: Hindi – “Chāmpo”
  • Meaning: A liquid preparation containing detergent or soap for washing the hair.

Derived from the word champee, which means a squeeze or a massage, this word traveled with Indians abroad in the 18th century, got its anglicized form in England as ‘shampoo’ and the rest is history.

3. Pajamas

  • Origin: Hindi – “Pāyāmā”
  • Meaning: Loose-fitting trousers worn by both sexes in some Asian countries.

In Hindi, Pajama means leg (pay) and clothing (jamah). This loose, comfortable garment made its way into England, accompanied by its original name in the 18th century and guess what, even the Brits call it Pajamas now!

4. Cummerbund

The cummerbund is a piece of cloth tied to men’s waist before they put on a coat. This helps them to appear fit and in shape (if they are not).

While it is not clear as to in which century this word entered the English vocab, it is clear that the word is derived from the word Kamarband, a piece of jewelry that women tie around their waist.

5. Chit

Again, the exact time frame when the word chit got its anglicized form from the original word chitthi is not clear.

However, chitthi in English means a note or a letter. The word ‘chit’ is a derivation from the Hindi word and it is widely used till date.

6. Avatar

  • Origin: Hindi – “Avatāra”
  • Meaning: A manifestation of a deity or released soul in bodily form on earth; an incarnation.

7. Chutney

  • Origin: Hindi – “Chatnī”
  • Meaning: A spicy condiment made from fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar, originating in India.

8. Cheetah

  • Origin: Hindi – “Cītā”
  • Meaning: A large spotted cat found in Africa and parts of Asia, known for its speed and agility.

9. Guru

  • Origin: Hindi – “Gurū”
  • Meaning: A spiritual teacher or leader in Hinduism, Buddhism, or Sikhism; an expert or influential mentor.

10. Jungle

  • Origin: Hindi – “Jangal”
  • Meaning: An area of land overgrown with dense forest and tangled vegetation, typically in a tropical or subtropical region.

11. Karma

  • Origin: Hindi – “Karma”
  • Meaning: In Hinduism and Buddhism, the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, is viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.

12. Sari/Saree

  • Origin: Hindi – “Sārī”
  • Meaning: A traditional garment worn by women in India, consisting of a long piece of cloth wrapped around the body, typically draped over one shoulder.

13. Veranda

  • Origin: Hindi – “Barandā”
  • Meaning: A roofed platform along the outside of a house, level with the ground floor.

14. Bandana

  • Origin: Hindi – “Bāṅdhnū”
  • Meaning: A large handkerchief, typically having a colorful pattern, worn tied around the head or neck.

15. Juggernaut

  • Origin: Hindi – “Jagannāth”
  • Meaning: A huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institution.

16. Thug

  • Origin: Hindi – “Ṭhag”
  • Meaning: A violent criminal, especially a member of a gang of robbers and assassins operating in India.

17. Cushy

  • Origin: Hindi – “Khushi”
  • Meaning: In British English slang, meaning easy, comfortable, or luxurious.

18. Shawl

  • Origin: Hindi – “Shāl”
  • Meaning: A piece of fabric worn by women over the shoulders or head, often draped over the upper body.

19. Jodhpurs

  • Origin: Hindi – “Jodhpur”
  • Meaning: Full-length trousers worn for horseback riding, often with reinforced knees and close-fitting calves.

20. Chapati

  • Origin: Hindi – “Chapātī”
  • Meaning: A thin, unleavened bread made from whole wheat flour and cooked on a hot griddle, commonly eaten in South Asia.

21. Pukka

  • Origin: Hindi – “Pakka”
  • Meaning: In British English slang, meaning genuine, authentic, or of excellent quality.

22. Ganja

  • Origin: Hindi – “Gāñjā”
  • Meaning: A form of marijuana, typically in the form of dried leaves or resin, originating from the Indian subcontinent.

23. Charpoy

  • Origin: Hindi – “Charpai”
  • Meaning: A traditional woven bedstead used in South Asia, consisting of a wooden frame with knotted string or rope.

24. Bidi

  • Origin: Hindi – “Bīḍī”
  • Meaning: A thin cigarette filled with tobacco flakes and wrapped in a tendu or temburni leaf, commonly smoked in South Asia.

25. Loot

  • Origin: Hindi – “Lūṭ”
  • Meaning: Goods, money, or valuables obtained illegally or through dishonest means; plunder or stolen goods.

26. Papadum

  • Origin: Hindi – “Pāpṛī”
  • Meaning: A thin, crisp disc-shaped Indian bread made from seasoned dough, typically fried or grilled and served as an appetizer or snack.

27. Pukka Sahib

  • Origin: Hindi – “Pakka Sahib”
  • Meaning: In British English, used to refer to a person of high social status, especially a European gentleman.

28. Kiosk

  • Origin: Hindi – “Kūshk”
  • Meaning: A small, freestanding structure or booth used for selling goods, providing information, or conducting transactions.

29. Bangle

  • Origin: Hindi – “Bangḷī”
  • Meaning: A rigid bracelet or anklet, typically made of metal, glass, or plastic, worn as an ornament on the wrist or arm.

30. Karma

  • Origin: Hindi – “Karma”
  • Meaning: In Hinduism and Buddhism, the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.

31. Khaki

  • Origin: Hindi – “Khākī”
  • Meaning: A dull brownish-yellow color; also used to describe a type of durable fabric of this color, commonly used in military uniforms.

32. Junglefowl

  • Origin: Hindi – “Jangli Murga”
  • Meaning: A type of wild chicken native to South Asia, known for its colorful plumage and distinctive call.

Although I have mentioned only 5 words English words originating from Hindi, the list is actually pretty long. Words such as loot, thug, cot, and much more owe to Hindi vocab at large.

Thousands of words since the existence of time have been borrowed from various places. The process goes on even today. Indeed, the world is really a small place and language, a vast treasure-house of words, ideas, and imagination.

These words highlight the linguistic and cultural connections between Hindi-speaking regions and the English language, reflecting historical interactions and exchanges between different cultures.

What are your comments about these English words originating from Hindi? Mention them below.

pooja

As a Literature student, Pooja is passionate about the world of words. Apart from spending hours snuggled up in a blanket with a book in hand, she enjoys digging up facts and theories about historical as well as mythological events. However, sharing them with the world is what keeps her going in life.

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