Words you won’t believe originated from Sanskrit
Manu, khatva and sthaga are Sanskrit words that mean ‘father of mankind’, ‘couch/bed’ and ‘fraudulent’ respectively. Can you guess which are the corresponding words in English?
Well, if you guessed ‘man’, ‘cot’ and ‘thug’, then you are right! These English words trace back their origin to and are derived from Sanskrit. Although both English and Sanskrit completely differ in their alphabet, grammar and script, they belong to the same language family- the Indo-European family! Sanskrit, however, is a far older language tracing back its origin to 2000 B.C. English, on the other hand, is relatively new tracing back its origin to 5 A.D. As English language evolved, a number of words with origins in other languages such as Latin, French and German started making their way into its vocabulary. During the colonial era in India, English also picked up a few words directly or indirectly from Sanskrit. This article looks at some common English words with Sanskrit origin.
Sanskrit Words in English Language | Words with Sanskrit Origin
Sanskrit origin: Chapyati
Shampoo is derived from the Hindi word Champo, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word Chapyati, which means “to knead or massage”. The word ‘shampoo’ entered English language in 1762 during the colonial era in India.
Sanskrit origin: Manu
Man is derived from the Sanskrit word Manu, which, in early Hindu texts referred to the “father or progenitor of mankind” or the first man (similar to Adam of Adam and Eve in Christianity).
Sanskrit origin: Sthaga
Thug traces its origin to the Sanskrit word Sthaga, which means “cunning” or “fraudulent” or “to conceal”. From Sanskrit, the word was adapted in Hindi and Marathi as Thug, meaning a “thief or swindler”. In English, the word ‘thug’ was first used in 1810 during the colonial rule in India to describe members of an Indian gang of robbers and murderers known for strangling their victims.
Sanskrit origin: Simhapuram
The English name, Singapore, is derived from the native Malay name for the country, Singapura, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word Simhapuram, literally meaning “Lion City”. While there were no lions on the island, the basis of the nomenclature was either the Malayan tiger or was a metaphorical reference.
Sanskrit origin: Khatva
Cot is derived from the Hindi word khaat, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word Khatva, meaning a “couch” or “bedstead” or “hammock”. The usage of the word ‘cot’ in English began in mid-17th century.
Sanskrit origin: Juta-s
Jute is derived from Jhuto in Bengali, which is ultimately derived the Sanskrit word Juta-s, meaning “twisted or matted hair”. The usage of the word ‘jute’ in English to describe the plant fiber used for making twines and ropes began in mid-18th century around 1746.
Sanskrit origin: Makara
Mugger is derived from Hindi Magar, meaning “crocodile”, which itself is derived from the Sanskrit word Makara, the name of a crocodile-like horned water beast in Hindu mythology. First used in English to refer to the large, snouted Indian crocodile, the usage of mugger as ‘a person who attacks to rob’ came later.
Sanskrit origin: Pandita
Pundit is derived from the Sanskrit word Pandita, which means a “learned man” or “scholar”. The usage of the word in English as an expert in a subject or field was first recorded in early 19th century.