Do You Speak Hinglish? 15 Indian Words English Speakers Use Every Day
Posted by Collins Language @ Wednesday 30 April 2014
While vibrant ‘Hinglish' or Indian-English evolves every day in Indian schools, homes, offices and streets, words of Indian origin have been a part of the English language since the 17th century.
Here are fifteen common 'English' words derived from India's thirty extraordinary languages and hundreds of active dialects. These words entered English through various routes, but most arrived during the mid-19th century and the days of the British Raj. Many of these Indian words have now conquered the world and are spoken from Sydney to Scarborough to Seattle every day.
Becoming part of the English language in the 18th century, it derives from the Hindi word champo, meaning to squeeze, knead or massage.
A descendent of the Hindi word thag, meaning a thief or a cheat, it entered the English language early in the 19th century.
Used initially in 17th century Bengal to describe the single-storey homes built for early European settlers, this term derives from the Hindi word bangla which means ‘in the style of’ or ‘belonging to Bengal’.
Meaning informal or easy, this stems from kushi and khush, the Urdu and Hindi terms for ‘pleasant’. It is said to have entered the English language during the First World War.
Related to the Tamil word kāsu which refers to a type of coin and the Sanskrit term karša which describes a measure of weight, and transferred to English via the East India Company.
UK slang for ‘genuine’ or ‘good’ - and popularised by well-known TV chef Jamie Oliver - this word springs from the Hindi term pakkā: to be ‘cooked’, ‘ripe’ and ‘solid’.
Demonstrating the strong sporting connections between Britain and India, this word comes from the Hindi cakkar and is now used in polo to label a period of continuous play that lasts at least 7 ½ minutes.
A pickled condiment (and a modern British favourite) made from fruit, vinegar, spices and sugar, this word entered the English language in the 19th century and derives from the Hindi name for a similar preserve, chatni.
Born out of the Hindi word khat, meaning a bedstead or hammock, and shifting into the English language during the mid-17th century.
Used in English to describe a boundless force, or a large transportation lorry, this derives from the Sanskrit Jagannātha: a huge chariot used to transport Hindu idols during annual processions in Odisha and Bengal, and which devotees are said to have sometimes thrown themselves under.
Loose fitting sleeping clothes, as worn by early European settlers, this word was taken from the Hindi payjama, meaning leg (pay) and clothing (jamah).
Drawing from the Urdu, Hindi and Arabic word Sharbat which is used to describe a traditional Diwali drink made from fruit and flower petals, similar to the Western frozen dessert.
Fabric spun from the fine downy wool of the cashmere goat, this is a corrupted spelling of ‘Kashmir’, an Indian state in which these goats were once found in abundance.
A Sanskrit word first used in Hinduism to define the manifestation of a deity in human, superhuman, or animal form; now used in English to refer to a movable image that represents a person in a virtual reality or cyberspace.
A primitive religious ornament in the shape of a Greek cross, usually with the ends of the arms bent at right angles. Whilst a clockwise version of the cross was officially adopted in 1935 as the emblem of Nazi Germany, the symbol remains widely used by various Indian religions. The word itself has its origins in the Sanskrit svastika which literally breaks down to mean ‘it is good’: ‘su’ (‘good’),’asti’ (‘it is’).
These fifteen are just a glimpse at the rich gift India's languages have already given English. No doubt with English operating as India's 'lingua franca', many more words will be exchanged in the future.
We'd love to know what Indian-origin words you know that have already, or could find a place in English? Add them to the comments below or why not submit them to CollinsDictionary.com as new words while you're at it – they might make our next Dictionary!