32 English Words That Come From India

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Introduction

English is a constantly evolving language.

It is impossible to say that English is a ‘pure’ language like some others. Over the years, English has changed completely.

English of today and English of the Elizabethan period are practically two entirely different languages.

And as English is a world language, other countries and cultures have added new words and phrases to it.

One of these countries is India.

There are many words of Indian descent that we now use in modern-day English.

I want to show you 32 English words that come from India.

Let’s take a look…

32 English Words That Come From India blighty

Blighty

This means England or Britain.

British soldiers started using this term when they were stationed in India.

People use the word blighty in a jokey kind of way.

You could say:

You can’t rely on the weather in Blighty.

The word is taken from an old Hindi-Urdu word — vilāyatī — which means foreign.

32 English Words That Come From India dekko

Dekko

This means to take a quick look at something.

You could say:

Let’s take a dekko

— meaning let me have a look at it.

This is another word that British soldiers took from the original Hindi word, dekho, which means look.

32 English Words That Come From India bandana

Bandana

A large piece of square-shaped fabric that you can tie around your head.

People might wear a bandana around their head on a hot day.

This is borrowed directly from the Hindi word, bandhana, which means to tie.

So there it is…

32 English Words That Come From India pyjamas

Pyjamas

You might wear pyjamas at nighttime in bed. Pyjamas originated in India.

You can say:

I like to wear pyjamas in bed.

The word pyjamas is taken from the Hindi word, paijaamaa, which means leg garment.

32 English Words That Come From India dinghy

Dinghy

This is a small boat, usually used for recreation or sailing purposes.

You can say:

There are so many people sailing in a dingy in the bay.

The word originally comes from Bengali, Hindi and Urdu.

Check out these other great articles to help you learn more English vocabulary…

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32 English Words That Come From India cushy

Cushy

Cushy means that a situation or job is very undemanding or easy to do.

You might say;

My job is very cushy.

But did you know that it comes from the Hindi word, k͟hushī, which means ‘pleasure’?

Some say that the origin is from the word cushion.

Now you know!

32 English Words That Come From India pepper

Pepper

This is a green, red or orange vegetable that has a very strong spicy flavour.

These vegetables were first seen by the British in India.

You can say:

I like green peppers in a salad.

They took the Sanskrit word, pippali, and over the years it has adapted to the word pepper.

32 English Words That Come From India punch

Punch

A very popular kind of drink made with fruit juice and alcohol.

But the word punch is from the Hindi word, panch, which means five. This is because the original drink had five ingredients — lemon, water, sugar, tea or spices and finally alcohol.

This drink was called paantsch, taken from the original Hindi word for five.

Over the years, the word has adapted to the English word, punch.

You can say:

Let’s make a punch for the party.

32 English Words That Come From India dungarees

Dungarees

Dungarees are clothes that people usually wear for work. But they can be worn casually too.

They are trousers with a kind of bib on the front and two straps that go over the shoulders. The bib usually has a pocket on the front.

Dungarees are usually made of denim or a thick kind of cotton.

However, the word dungarees is from the original Hindi word, dungri.

Some people say this is the name of the village or town where dungarees were invented.

You can say:

I bought some dungarees in the market on Sunday.

32 English Words That Come From India khaki

Khaki

Khaki is a colour. It is a tan colour with a yellow tinge.

You can say:

I have some khaki shorts that I like to wear at the weekend.

But maybe you did not know that the word comes from the Hindi word, khaki, which means dust colour or dusty grey.

And now you know!

32 English Words That Come From India pukka

Pukka

This is a very common word in English slang. Often used in or around London.

It means of genuine or good quality.

You can say:

I got a new computer. It’s pukka!

But the word is originally taken from India. The original word, pakka, means cooked, ripe or solid.

Interesting origin of the word…

32 English Words That Come From India bangle

Bangle

A bangle is a band that a woman might wear around her wrist.

It is usually one solid piece that could be made of glass, jade, metal, wood or plastic.

You can say:

My girlfriend has a beautiful jade bangle.

But did you know that the word comes from the Hindi word, bangli?

Well, now you do…

32 English Words That Come From India thug

Thug

In English, this word is used to describe a violent person or criminal.

You can say:

Some parts of the city have gangs of thugs on the streets.

But the word is originally from India. In Hindi-Urdu, there is the word thagi, which means thief or con man.

32 English Words That Come From India guru

Guru

A guru is a teacher or a person of higher understanding that can help students.

In modern-day terms, if we refer to someone as a guru, it means that they have a superior knowledge of something.

You can say:

I read a book by a well-known writer on computer programming. He is considered to be something of a guru.

It may come as no surprise to know that the word guru comes from the Hindi word — also guru — which means teacher or priest.

And there it is…

32 English Words That Come From India tickety-boo

Tickety-boo

I love this phrase!

It was a phrase that my dad always used. He would say: Everything is tickety-boo!

It means that everything is good, everything is all right.

You can say:

Let’s finish all these reports and then everything is tickety-boo.

I don’t know if my dad ever knew this, but the phrase comes originally from India. The meaning in Hindi is It’s all right, sir!

How interesting!

32 English Words That Come From India mugger

Mugger

We all know what a mugger is, right?

This is a person — or a thug — that robs another person on the street. They may use a knife or even a gun.

But the original meaning of this word is crocodile.

You can say:

My brother encountered a mugger in town last Friday night. He took his wallet and phone.

In Hindi, the original word is magar, and it means a kind of crocodile usually found in Southern India.

The crocodile moves stealthily and quietly in the dark, before surprising its prey and jumping out to attack.

Just like a mugger on the street!

32 English Words That Come From India sugar

Sugar

Everyone knows what sugar is…

That sweet, sticky substance that is not good for our health — or our teeth!

This word has travelled via Old French language, Italian, Latin, Arabic and Persian…

You can say:

I am trying to cut sugar from my diet…

But the origin of the word can be found in Sanskrit — śarkara — which means ground or candied sugar.

So now you know!

32 English Words That Come From India avatar

Avatar

The modern-day definition of avatar is an icon or image that you may use on the internet forums, messenger apps or video games.

But the original meaning of avatar is more religious.

It means the human form of a god or deity or earth.

You can say:

I have a cool avatar on Facebook.

The original meaning of avatar comes from Hindi — and the Hindi religion. The original word is avatāra.

Quite a different meaning to the modern-day term in English, but that is where it comes from.

32 English Words That Come From India gymkhana

Gymkhana

A gymkhana is a sporting event that usually involves horses.

You can say:

My mum makes me and my sister go to a gymkhana on the outskirts of town every summer.

But the event — and the word — comes from India.

In English, the word is taken from the original Hindi word, gedkhana.

32 English Words That Come From India pundit

Pundit

In modern English, a pundit is an expert in a given field or subject that is asked to talk about something in a public meeting or via a TV show or internet podcast.

You can say:

I get tired of hearing these pundits talking about their opinions on chat shows.

However, did you know that the original word is pandit, taken from the Hindi language?

A pandit, in Hindi, means a priest or a learned scholar.

32 English Words That Come From India typhoon

Typhoon

You might have heard of this word used to describe a tropical storm in Asia. It usually involves heavy rain and a strong wind.

You can say:

The weather report says there will be a big typhoon next week.

The origin of this word comes from either the Indian word toofaan or ṭūfān. Or the Cantonese word tai fung.

But not an original word in English…

32 English Words That Come From India opal

Opal

An opal is a valuable gem or gemstone.

You can say:

I gave my wife an opal necklace for her birthday.

The English word comes from India, the ancient Sanskrit word upala, which means precious stone.

32 English Words That Come From India bungalow

Bungalow

This word is well-known in many western countries, particularly in England.

A bungalow in England is a simple house built on one floor.

You can say:

My grandparents live in a bungalow by the seaside.

But the word originally comes from the Urdu word bangla, which means a house built in the Bengali style.

32 English Words That Come From India nirvana

Nirvana

In modern English, we might know the word nirvana to mean a transcendental state of higher knowing. Where the person who experiences nirvana is at peace and has no suffering.

You can say:

I meditate every day. I reach my own little state of nirvana once a day.

As you may have guessed — or already know — the word nirvana comes from the Indian religions of Jainism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.

The word is practically unchanged over the years and comes from the original Sanskrit word, nirvāṇa.

How enlightening!

32 English Words That Come From India verandah

Verandah

A verandah — or veranda in American English — is a kind of platform in front of a house where people can sit and relax. Often, the veranda has a roof.

You can say:

My grandparents have a verandah in front of their bungalow. It’s a nice place to sit down and relax.

This architectural style — and the word, varanda  — comes from India. Of course.

32 English Words That Come From India shampoo

Shampoo

You probably use this every day to wash your hair.

Shampoo is a kind of soap that people use to wash and maintain their hair.

You can say:

I shampoo my hair every day.

But the word comes from the Hindi word champo, which means to massage.

32 English Words That Come From India catamaran

Catamaran

The English definition of catamaran is a yacht or boat with twin hulls in parallel.

You can say:

I went on a catamaran in Spain. It was very exciting!

Not many people know that the origin of this word lies in the word kattumaram. This means tied wood in Tamil.

So interesting…

32 English Words That Come From India karma

Karma

We know the modern-day meaning of karma to be that your actions in life may result in reactions. It is all about the cycle of cause and effect.

For example, someone may say something bad about you online and then other people turn against this person. That could be an example of karma.

You can say:

My brother got into trouble for stealing money from me. I guess that is karma.

Maybe you did not know that the word originally comes from the Sanskrit word karman, which means act.

Now you do!

32 English Words That Come From India jungle

Jungle

A jungle is an area of dense trees and undergrowth. Jungles can be found in hot parts of the world.

You can say:

Tigers live in the jungle.

India, of course, has jungles.

The word is from the Sanskrit word jaṅgala.

32 English Words That Come From India curry

Curry

Curry is a south Asian dish made with meat, fish and vegetables. It has lots of spices and seasoning added to give it a very distinctive spicy and aromatic flavour.

The British borrowed the cuisine from India, and now curry is very popular in England.

You can say:

I love curry! I eat it at least once a month…

The word curry comes from the Tamil word kaṟi, which means sauce or relish for rice.

Delicious!

32 English Words That Come From India loot

Loot

Loot means money. Usually, the money gained from stealing or some other illegal activity.

You can say:

The thieves broke into the safe and took off with the loot.

But the word is from India and means steal or robbery.

32 English Words That Come From India chit

Chit

This is quite an old term used in English a few years ago, which means note or letter.

You can say:

My teacher gave me a chit to hand to my parents.

It is taken from the Indian word chitthi.

So there you go!

Conclusion

So that’s it.

32 very popular words used in English — that originated in India.

Try to use them today!

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