Amusing Stories behind the 12 Words of Indian Origin that Made it to the Oxford Dictionary

Sher D Fly By Sher D Fly, 31st Jan 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>General

The history of English language traces back thousands of years ago. The English language has brought in influences of other languages through Britain’s history of world trade, overseas exploration and expansion. One of the many languages that had spiced up the English language is Indian and in fact some of these Indian words have become so much part of the language that it is quite easy for us to forget their Indian origin.

1. Bungalow

This word actually came from a Hindi word which basically means ‘something belonging to a Bengal’. During the British ruling in India somewhere around the 17th century, bungalows were usually referred to cottages built in Bengal area for the British settlers.

2. Pyjamas

Originally, this word was from Urdu words ‘pay’ or leg and ‘jama’ or clothing. ‘Payjama’ or leg clothing was a common, loose pair of trousers made of cool cotton or silk worn by men and women in countries like India and Turkey. However, because the loose garments are pretty comfortable, the Europeans who were living in these countries at that time wore them to bed.

3. Horde

This word now refers to a large crowd of people. However, it was originally the name of a tribe of nomads who lived in tents and migrated from one place to another. This word came from the Urdu word ‘ordu’ or royal camp.

4. Jungle

This word actually came from a Hindi word which originally meant wasteland or uncultivated land. The root word was taken from Sanskrit language which means rough and arid. However, now this word refers to an area of tropical forest where trees and plants grow very thickly.

5. Chit

The word came from Hindi ‘chitthi’ or a note or a pass. Now, it refers to a short written note, signed by somebody, showing an amount of money owed.

6. Shampoo

This word was from a Hindi word ‘campoo’ or press. This word was used during the 18th century by the Europeans who were in the Turkish baths. This is basically a word to give instruction to the masseur to press and massage. Somehow or rather along the way, the word became shampoo and it refers to the liquid soap used to clean hair, furniture, carpet and so on or the act of washing hair using shampoo.

7. Thug

This word came from a Hindi word ‘thag’ or thief or swindler. The thags at that time were professional robbers who pretended to be travelers in the deep forests of India. They robbed and killed whoever came along the way. The thug now refers to similar type of violent person, usually a criminal.

8. Loot

The word came from Sanskrit ‘lut’ or to rob. During the British ruling in India, the soldiers would usually take away all the valuables from the enemy after winning a battle. Basically the meaning of the word remains and it also now refers to the act of stealing from anyone.

9. Cushy

This was originally an Urdu word ‘kushi’ or pleasure. It basically refers to easy job or pleasant situation.

10. Kedgeree

This word was from Hindi word ‘kichri’ or a dish of rice. Now, this word refers to hot dish of rice, fish and egg cooked together.

11. Juggernaut

This word came from Sanskrit ‘Jagannatha’ or Lord of the World. This word refers to the Hindu God Krishna who will be worshipped by the followers and each year there will be a procession to drag his huge image on a large chariot. The word was unconsciously borrowed by the English in the 19th century to refer to heavy vehicles like large lorry and a heavy-duty truck.

12. Jodhpurs

This word came from the word Jodhpur which is a city in west India. The men in this city wore a type of garments. In late 19th century, the English used similar type of garments, i.e. trousers that are loose above the knee and tight from the knee to ankle, worn when riding a horse.


Bungalow, Chit, Cushy, Horde, Indian, Jodhpurs, Juggernaut, Jungle, Kedgeree, Language, Loot, Origin, Oxford Dictionary, Pyjamas, Shampoo, Thug, Words

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author avatar Sher D Fly
I am a free-lance writer. I write just about everything - for fun and of course to earn some money.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
31st Jan 2013 (#)

Very interesting etymology of these words. Thanks for the share - siva

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author avatar Sher D Fly
31st Jan 2013 (#)

You are most welcome, Siva

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