Indo-English Vocabulary – English words taken from Indian languages

English is an expanding language and new words are added regularly. In today’s English lesson we are learning 18 English words that come from the Indian languages. You would be surprised to know that these words come from Indian languages. As British ruled India for a long time, there has been an influence of the Brits in India, but the English language also had the Indian influence. We are sure you would enjoy this English lesson.

Complete Lesson Transcript –

Jai ho, Namaskar, welcome to the lesson. today we are going back to the time when India was still rules by the British because that was the time when many words from Hindi and other Indian languages went into English and now they are a part of our common vocabulary. Trust me you’ll be surprised to find some of these words. So join me, my name is Michelle and we are gonna begin the lesson now.


So guys do you know that, Hindi and English are part of the same language group? Yeah, like we have different countries and continents, the same way we have different language groups. And Hindi and English are a part of the same language group which is the Indo European language group and therefore we so many common words and even phonemic sounds which are very similar in Hindi and English. Okay with this, we start with the first word that we have with us, which is a noun. So we are going to look at a lot of nouns today, actually all of these are nouns. These words that have gone into English, they’ve passed into English and now we use them very often.


So the first word that we have is a shampoo. So have you shampooed your hair this morning? Which means to wash your hair using a liquid, which has broth, right and you get bubbles when you wash your hair. So this is what shampoo is, a frothy liquid. A liquid to wash your hair. The fun part is that you can use shampoo to even talk about it as a verb. So you could say that I shampooed my hair this morning. But how does it come from Hindi? So this comes from a Hindi word which is champi. So champi. So champi means to press your hair and to move them, touch them, touch your head so that you feel more relaxed and easy. So that’s where we get the word, shampoo because we move the shampoo over our hair, we touch all over our hair and we feel relaxed and clean and washed after it.


Okay now with this we look at the next word that we have for the day and that is a dungaree. So Hindi has actually even passed into the languages of clothes and styling. So dungaree is a type of a dress which is a trouser essentially but it has a part that covers your chest and also it’s got two straps on the back. So this is a special type of dress which was made out of a very coarse fabric back then and that fabric was called dungaree and from there we capped the word dungaree, which is a coarse fabric to make a dress which is a trouser. So dungaree is a trouser. A trouser dress. I’m sure you would have heard this word before and many of you might even be wearing it but you don’t know that this word actually comes from Hindi.

Okay so with that, we have the third word and this is also a word related to dressing. This word is called a pajama. So pajama is a leg garment, it comes from two Sanskrit words, py and jama, py means feet and jama means garment. So the garment or the cloth that you wear on your legs is called a pajama. a leg garment and if you go out for shopping, if you ask for a dungaree or pajamas you’ll definitely find both of them even in an international store.


The next word that we have with us is a bungalow. So bungalow is a type of a house. Now we’ve moved forward from clothing to housing and bungalow means a Bengal style house. Yes that’s why this word is spelt like that because it comes from the Hindi word, Bengal. Now Bengal is a place okay it’s a place in the east of India. So Bungalow is a one storey house, which is a Bengal style house, which means that it has only, one floor and we find a cot in a Bungalow. So a cot is a portable bed that can be moved from one room to the other. A portable bed or a movable bed.


The next one word we have is, thug and with this we enter the criminal branch. So thug means a person who is a thief. So a Britishers would call it thug but an Indian would call it thug because Britishers do not have phonemic sound Th, so they often call it thug. Thug is a person who is a thief and a higher level thug who is a part of an organized criminal group is called a dacoit. So dacoit is the criminal who is a part of an organized group. And what do dacoits do, they loot people which means that they steal from them forcefully.


Now we look at the next word that we have and if you’re very fond of drinking then know this word, toddy. It’s a special kind of wine that you find in the south of India and it’s called the palm wine. It’s not very high on the alcoholic content. So you don’t have to worry. So toddy is palm wine. Are you afraid of typhoons or cyclones? Well then this word actually comes from a Hindi word toofan which means a strong storm. A cyclonic storm. So it’s a storm which is almost like a cyclone.

Okay now enter the realm of food and relishing tasty Indian food. The first one that we have is tandoori. so tandoori is a kind of food that is made on a tandoor and a tandoor is actually a clay oven, which is usually used in North India and Pakistan as well and other you know Asian countries. So tandoor, it’s an Indian style of cooking. So whenever you have meat which is cooked in yoghurt and it’s heated on a tandoor, it’s called the tandoori chicken or a tandoori meat.


The next word we have is chutney. So like you have Mexican dip and other sorts of dips, Italian dips, we have the Indian dip, which is called chutney. It’s made of spices. Indian dip. It’s usually a side dish along with tandoori chicken and it adds more flavour to the food.

Okay with that we look at the next very popular word for Indian food and that is curry. So curry is like a hot spicy liquid in which you have either meat or vegetables and this is a very important Indian dish. Curry, an important Indian dish. It’s made up of spices and other ingredients.

Okay now with this we are looking at some words from the religion. The Hindu religion, Hinduism you know. So the word that we have is a guru. Guru means someone who is a teacher and you often call someone your guru, if they teach you or if they are your mentor. So guru is either a teacher or a mentor and you can use it in English to say that, you are my mentor or you are my guru.


Okay the next one we have is karma. Karma means the deeds that a person does. So a person’s deeds affect their future which means an action has equal and opposite reaction. So if John is having bad luck then karma is paying back on him, which means that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So karma is actually deeds and this is a common Hindu belief that you know your karma affects your future, which means your deeds affect your future.

The next one we have, this word is a Hindi word, although it comes from Buddhism and this word is Nirvana. So nirvana is a state of peace and happiness where there is no suffering. We all wanna achieve that for sure. A state of peace, where this no suffering. So you could say that, the painkillers helped John reach a state of Nirvana because he couldn’t feel the pain anymore.

Now we look at the next word that we have and that is juggernaut. So juggernaut comes from the word jagannath which is the name of an Indian deity or a Hindu deity and this deity is known for destruction, jagannath and anything that is capable of destroying is, called juggernaut in English. So let’s say there’s a warship or a lorry and if there’s anything ahead of it, you know and the warship passes over it, it will destroy whatever is under it. So anything which has the capacity to destroy is called juggernaut. So a destroying object. Sometimes you can also use it for a statement that somebody made, so you could say that his statement came across as juggernaut which means it was a destructive statement.


Okay now we look at the last word that we have for the word and that is, avatar. So if you’re very fond of gaming, computer gaming, then you would surely come across this word avatar. Avatar means a form or an incarnation of a Hindu deity on earth, right? But in gaming, it represents you. So if you have an avatar in gaming, it represents who you are and you can see that avatar moving on the screen. So you can use it in English also to say that my avatar has long hair. So avatar is a gaming representation.

Okay, so with this, we complete the lesson where we have learnt some very interesting words from Indian languages that are now a part of English. So use them fluently without the fear of thinking that oh! They are Indian because now they are international. So thank you so much for having me with you, this is Michelle signing off, bye.

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