Wordsmith – Indian wordpower

The British Empire spread the English language across the world, turning it into today’s global language of commerce and communication. However it wasn’t all one way lots of other word from different languages, particularly Indian words, have been absorbed into English. See how many Indian words you know by matching each of the words below to one of the multiple possible definitions.

Vocabulary Ratings
14-15 correct ………………….. excellent
12-13 correct ………………….. good
9-11 correct ………………….. fair

(1) roti {raw-tee} n A: blunt skewer. B: unleavened bread. C: wooden wheel.

B: unleavened bread. ‘The roti in the restaurant had seen better days ”

(2) jaconet {jack-er-nit} n A: cotton cloth with a stiff finish. B: barbed comment. C: table leg.

A: cotton cloth with a slightly stiff finish. From the town of Jagannath Puri in eastern India where the cloth was made.

(3) dacoit {dack-oyt} n A: ancient form of skittles. B: armed robber. C: ornate library.

B: armed robber. “Dacoits attacked in gangs.” Hindi dakait.

(4) chit n A: angry rebuke. B: bird's flight. C: slip of paper used instead of payment.

C: slip of paper. “He ordered another drink and signed yet another chit.” Hindi chitthi (letter or note).

(5) dharma {dar-ma} n A: mild spice. B: energetic dance. C: good moral behaviour.

C: good moral behaviour. “He sought dharma in all he did.” Sanskrit dharma (decree or custom).

(6) nirvana n A: state of spiritual bliss. B: screeching noise. C: sleeping potion.

A: spiritual bliss. Sanskrit nis (out) and va (to blow). In Buddhist terms, blowing out negative feelings.

(7) avatar n A: deity's appearance on earth. B: jungle creature. C: imaginary friend.

A: deity’s appearance on earth. “He wasn’t pleased that his avatar was rude.” Sanskrit avatara (descent).

(8) ghee (pronounced with a hard 'g') n A: two-pronged fork. B: clarified butter. C: damp cave.

B: clarified butter. “The best ghee came from her cow.”

(9) cummerbund n A: shopping street. B: sash worn round the waist. C: fishing bag.

B: sash worn round the waist “Cary Grant’s cummerbund shone at the Oscars.” Urdu kamar-band (loin band).

(10) doolally adj A: focused. B: fun-loving. C: mentally unbalanced.

C: unbalanced. “He went doolally with the builders.” From the town of Deolaliand its notorious transit camp for British troops.

(11) gymkhana n A: fitness instructor. B: stone barn. C: horse-riding competition.

C: horse-riding competition. “She was a gymkhana girl, always in jodhpurs.”

(12) Brahmin {bra-minn} n A: priestly caste. B: intricate waistcoat. C: holy mountain.

A: priestly caste. “He had the grand Brahmin air about him.” Sanskrit brahman (praise, worship).

(13) rajpramukh {rarj-prer-muhk} n A: island palace. B: state governor. C: royal executioner.

B: state governor. “The rajpramukhs governed the old princely states after 1947.” Hindi rajya (state) and pramukh (chief).

(14) dhoti {doe-tee} n A: motorised bicycle. B: jewelled casket. C: cloth wound round the body.

C: cloth wound round the body.”He tucked his dhoti into his waistband.”

(15) suttee n A: a prince's mute servant. B: widow burned on husband's funeral pyre. C: brick ice-house.

B: widow burned on husband’s funeral pyre. “She was forced to go through the suttee ritual.” Hindi sati (faithful wife).

Author: Robert

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