- January 8, 2014
- Posted by: Madrigal Admin
- Category: Word of the Week Blog
Doolally is my favourite of all the wonderful Indian words given to the English language. Doolally is common British slang for insane, silly or eccentric. It comes from the days of the Raj when the British Army had a post at Deolali, near Bombay. It was the main staging post for British troops on their way into or out of India. While they waited for the boats to take them home, the heat, dust and boredom made some of them go a little mad. It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum, the English comedy program of the late 1970s, about a British Army concert party in India, was set in Deolali. The Australian expression “do your lolly” is thought to be a version of doolally.
There are a lot of other Indian words that have found their way into English apart from curry (Tamil kari meaning sauce, relish for rice) poppadoms, garam masala, mulligatawny, and all those other culinary Indian words.
Jungle entered English from the Hindi jangal meaning desert, forest, wasteland, or uncultivated ground.
Juggernaut is one of the names of the god Krishna (literally meaning lord of the world) but entered English as a reference to the huge wagon that carried a statue of Krishna in an annual procession through the town of Puri
Shampoo comes, from Hindi champo, meaning to press, knead the muscles, and is equivalent to the modern verb chumpi which means a head massage with oil.
Bangles are a form of traditional Indian ring-shaped bracelet from Hindi bangri meaning a colored glass bracelet or anklet.
Pariah, the social outcast, originates from a Tamil word for drummer. Drumming at Southern Indian festivals was the duty of members of one of the lower castes. It was applied by Europeans to members of any low Hindu caste and became extended to mean social outcast in about 1819.
Khaki from the Urdu word khaki meaning dusty came originally from khak the Persian word for dust. Khaki was first introduced in the uniforms of the British cavalry in India in 1846.
Pyjama comes from Persian for pai for leg and jamah for garment. They were loose fitting trousers worn by Muslims in India and adopted by Europeans there, especially for nightwear.
Catamaran from the Tamil word, kattumaram, refers to to kattu, to tie, teamed with maram, wooden log to give tied wood referring to the log tied to the side of a hull.
Loot is derived from the Hindi word, lut, meaning booty, stolen property.
Swastika was originally a religious symbol of good luck from Sanskrit, svastika, which literally meant being fortunate. The German word was Hakenkreuz, which is literally hook-cross.
Thug comes from Marathi, thag, a cheat, swindler which was given to a member of a gang of murderers and robbers in India who strangled their victims.
Verandah comes from Hindi, varanda, which probably originated from the Portuguese word varanda for a long balcony or terrace.
Pundit comes from the Hindi, Pandit, for a learned Brahman scholar or priest.
Mango comes from Tamil, mankay, from man for mango tree and kay for fruit.
Bungalow comes from Hindi bangla for a low, thatched house, but it literally means Bengalese, having been used to describe a house in the Bengal style.