Words index Vivian Cook
Words in English
the British went to India, many words from Indian languages have travelled in
the reverse direction. The changing historical relationship between the two
countries is shown in the different kinds of words that the English language
borrowed at different periods, according to the Indian expert Subba Roa.
In the 17th
century it was trade that counted. The names of Indian places were used for
particular materials, such as calico
(a city) or cashmere (Kashmir).
In the 18th
century, though trade continued to bring in words such as jute and seersucker,
influences came from Indian culture, such as hookah (alias hubble-bubble,
a kind of smoking device) and the military as in sepoy (native Indian soldier).
The 19th century
saw Indian words used with wider meanings than in their original languages: jungle
(just ‘waste ground’), toddy
(‘tree sap’) and juggernaut
(‘wagon’), while ideas from Indian philosophy began to be known, such as karma.
The 20th century
continued the military influence with the two world wars yielding blighty,
cushy and chitty.
Here are some other words that seem to have come from India, a
matter not just of recognisable imports like tikka massala, but also of bungalow
atoll, Malayalam ‘closing, uniting’
bandanna, Hindustani ‘a method of dyeing’
basmati, Hindi ‘fragrant’
bungalow, Hindustani ‘belonging to Bengal’
chintz, Sanskrit ‘variegated’
dinghy, Hindi ‘small boat’
dungaree, Hindi ‘coarse calico’
guru, Hindi/Hindustani ‘a teacher, priest’
gymkhana, Hindustani ‘ball-house’
khaki, Urdu/Persian ‘dust-coloured’
loot, Hindi ‘booty’
pundit, Hindi ‘learned man’
thug, Hindi ‘a cheat’
tom-tom, Hindustani drum’
French words English words in Japanese English words for foreign places