It is a well-known fact that the English language has borrowed many words from other languages. This is part of the reason for the language’s universal appeal (though colonialism is the primary reason!). A lot of these words were borrowed from Indian languages from across the country. Around 900 words of Indian origin are part of the Oxford English Dictionary!
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While you may already know that English words like curry, pyjamas or chutney were borrowed from Indian languages, we have created a list of very commonly used Indian-origin English words that might surprise you. These words definitely surprised us!
While the bottled shampoo might feel like a foreign product or a western creation, we have the Hindi word champo to thank for the word shampoo! Champo is a form of the word champna and it means to press or knead. The word entered the English lexicon during the colonial era in 1762. The first recorded instance of using the word shampoo to refer to washing the hair can be traced back to 1860.
In India, the Hindi word jangal which was derived from the Sanskrit word jangala-s meant desert land, wasteland, a land sparsely grown with trees, etc. In 1776 the word ‘jungle’ was used in the English language to refer to the exact opposite thing: a land with overgrown vegetation and dense tree cover. This meaning was extended to include other meanings like lawlessness and violence in 1906. Now, the word is also often used with racial overtones to refer to non-Europeans, especially people of African origin.
Is a mere mention of the word candy or chocolate all you need to do to capture your child’s attention? Well, you can’t blame them. Because the origin of the word candy can be traced back to their own land! The word reached English through French, it reached French through Arabic, and it reached Arabic through our very own Sanskrit. The Sanskrit word khanda meaning a piece of sugar gave birth to the word candy. It could also have originated from the Tamil words kantu or kattu.
The English word mango also has Indian roots. Unsurprising, since it’s India’s favourite fruit and extensively cultivated in the country. The word reached English through the Portuguese word manga in the 1580s. Manga was ultimately derived from the Dravidian languages which refer to the mango as maanga, maankai, etc.
Jute sarees, jute bags and jute carpets are a hit in Indian households. The word jute can also be traced back to India. This plant fibre got its name from the Bengali jhuto, which can be traced back to the Sanskrit juta-s which meant twisted hair or matted hair.