Rooted in India: English words with Hindi origin

english words of hindi origin

English is a funny language in many ways. And one funny way of its functioning is dwelling in such desi presences that goes beyond its sophistication. There has emerged a large number of words in English that have their origin in different Indian languages, including Hindi. Some are very obvious derivations, others present as pleasant surprise to the Indian masses. Here’s some such very common English words that are shuddh desi in their Indian Hindi stemmings-

Veranda from Baranda

Perhaps the most popular word as far as awareness about its Hindi origins goes is verandah. Also one of the most loved spots in houses, where you undergo your daily morning ritual of sipping on tea while poring deep into the newspapers or one where you while away a rainy evening, again with some chai and fritters for company, the veranda evokes quite some nostalgia in its very mention. A drawing from the Hindi baranda, the word however is itself a possible derivation from the Spanish baranda that which means balustrade.

Guru from Guru

style guru
Source: 99Designs

Success guru, fashion guru, love guru- we have them all today. But in their emergence even in the most unconventional of life spheres, gurus owe their revered nomenclature to the namesake Hindi term, which again owes its allegiance to the Sanskrit Guru. Referring to a teacher in its simplest form and expanding to encompass such other mentors and intellectual guides, the word entered the English vocabulary sometime during the 17th century and has continued to be relevant ever since.

Mantra from Mantra

success mantra
Source: Pinterest

Another Hindi word that has closely followed ‘Guru’ into English with its positioning along somewhat similar lines is mantra. Now used to mean a particular way of going about something, as in success mantra or style mantra, this is a term the Hindi meaning of which alludes to chants in meditation.

Jungle from Jangal

Very apparent in its Hindi origins, jungle is a word that sees rather wide usage in the English language. More appropriately, it has its roots traceable in the Sanskrit lexicon, in the word jangala that which ironically means uncultivated land, quite the opposite of what it refers to in its English usage as alluding to forests.

Thug from Thag

Thug means conman in English and derives from a similar sounding Hindi word thag with the same connotation as well. In referring also to “one of a former group of professional robbers and murderers in India who strangled their victims”, the Indian origins of the word are quite clear, that which has been manifesting its usage in English from the early 1800s.

Shampoo from Champo

Shampoo sounds so much like that exotic sophistication on your lips when you pronounce it. But this is a word very much desi despite its worldly prominence. Derived from the Hindustani word champo that means to rub or massage and that which itself is a form of the Hindi word cāmpnā, “to press”, shampoo entered the English lexicon sometime in the early 1760s and has become a universal bathing ritual since then.

Pajamas/ Pyjamas from Payjamas

Source: USA Today

Those super comfy nightwear that even global celebs like to lounge in style, pajamas are a derivation from similar words typical to both Hindi and Urdu. A variant of the word payjama that which itself is a combination of two Persion words pay meaning legs and jama meaning garment, pajamas supposedly began doing the rounds in the English language from sometime between 1870- 75.

Mogul from Mughal

Source: Entrepreneur

Ever wondered why epoch setting rich and powerful personalities, especially in business, are referred to as Moguls, even when that does not quite evoke the same feel in structure as tycoons or magnates that are more distinctively English? That’s because this is essentially a word rooted in the Indian context. Acknowledging the unparalleled greatness of such Mughal rulers as Akbar and Shah Jahan, the term mogul came to define what it does in the present context from purely Hindi and Urdu origins.

Cummerbund from Kamarbandh

Fashion begets fashion, as it goes. But something so elemental a part of women’s fashion to transcend into a men’s arena of style in the modern times is a definitive wonder. Kamarbands are still an occasional mainstay of fashion for Indian women, particularly with the traditional Indian dress saree even when they were widely also an encompassment of the men style in earlier times. It is from this very kamarband that the modern day cummerbund stems from. In being a broad waist sash integral to traditional events in the Western countries, the cummerbund is a derivation from India not just etymologically but also in essence.

Chit from Chitthi

A chit is but a piece of paper and in many cases also a miniature form of the letter. Remember those days of mischief at school when passing anonymous chits to your crush with sweet nothing scribblings on them was all the romance you though you would ever need in life? No wonder then that the term chit derives from chitthi, the Hindi for letters, albeit not of the alphabet.

Jodhpurs from Jodhpur

Not only is this one evidently Indian, it is also as evidently Jodhpuri! A fashion endowment from the Blue City of India, Jodhpurs happen to be trousers that happen to be tight fitting from the knee to the ankle. A traditional attire at Jodhpuri weddings even now, these Jodhpurs, also popular as breeches (English riding pants) in their modern form are now primarily find wear in such sporting pursuits as horse riding.

Bungalow from Bangla

Like veranda, bungalow also is another term that is popular in its Hindi origins. A one storey, cottage like house that were a common sight in Bengal during the 17th century, bangla then used to imply houses built in the Bengal style. Usually surrounded by wide verandas, bungalows today are pretty, sprawling houses that signify quite a dream to live in.

Chutney from Chaṭnī

This one’ snot even a bit surprising since chutneys are condiments exclusive to cuisine in the Indian subcontinent, of which Hindi is by and large the official language. Derived actually from ‘chatna’ which means to lick, the lip smacking deliciousness of these beloved sides in the Indian gastronomic parlance justifies every reason that led them to be etymologised as such.

Punch from Panch

With the word ‘punch’ being harbouring of a host of meanings, it is important to clarify which allusion of the word finds its origin in Hindi. That distinction goes to the punch drink, that which is a beverage you often raise a toast to. Originally named paantsch, this is generally a fruity preparation, the name of which supposedly derives from panch, meaning five in Hindi, referring to its five key ingredients of alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices.

Raita from Rayta

Much like chutney, raita is an essential encompassment in Indian, or more broadly in south Asian cuisine. A yogurt based dish to which certain salad veggies are added and that which serves as a side, raita is not an English word per se. But nevertheless, its prevalent usage in the English language make it another of the words of Hindi or Urdu origin that have gone truly global.

Toddy from Tārī

People world over relishes the classic hot toddy as a potion to relieve the symptoms of the cold and flu. And while the recipe and its variations might not be Indian, the country boasts of being the forerunner of at least its etymology that which also refers to a popular traditional drink. Toddy is a derivation from Tārī, the juice of the palmyrapalm tree that is what makes up the beverage here.

Bandana from Bandhna


Those large colorful kerchiefs that very often occupy place around the head, bandanas are very Indian in origin as well as in etymology. A medley of the Hindi words ‘bāndhnū,’ or “tie-dyeing,” and ‘bāndhnā,’ “to tie, bandana has its origins in a style of tie dyed textile called Bandhani that is native to India.

Typhoon from Toofaan

A word quite ambiguous in its origin, with references to numerous languages, typhoon still probably is, to some extent, a derivant of the Hindi toofan that itself again stems from quite a few identities.

Yaar from Yaar

Source: Zedge

This one’s as obvious of its Hindi roots as could be. Yaar, often used informally to mean a friend is a very extensive usage in Indian English. Originally a loanword from Persian in its Hindi as well as Urdu usage, yaar reportedly entered the ambits of the English vocabulary sometime in the early 1960s.

Juggernaut from Jagannath

It indeed can be quite flummoxing that a word as emphasising as juggernaut is in fact derived from a term of divine origins! But the Jagannath Temple in India’s Odisha from where the word stems boasts of an annual phenomenon called the Rath Yatra festival that which in its conglomeration is no less spectacular a monumental vision that what a juggernaut likely would be.

Avatar from Avatarana

It took a Hindi word for James Cameron to shake the movie world for once when he dished out the epic science fiction film Avatar. Derived from the Sanskrit word Avatarana, the Hindi avatar, particularly its manifestation in Hinduism, refers to an incarnate divine power. The eponymous English term finds usage in such references to a figure representing a person in video games or internet forums.