Vivek Haldar

English Words Lifted from Hindi

I bet that next to European languages, Hindi is among the those that English has borrowed the most from. I’m not talking about English words with Hindi origins, I’m talking about Hindi words lifted with little or no modification. Maybe I’m biased as a native Hindi speaker. Maybe Hindi words spoken, and sometimes mutilated, in English pop out at me. 

Here are a few examples:

(Word / Hindi meaning / English meaning)

pundit / Priest, caretaker of temples, performer of rituals / Self-proclaimed expert
guru / Learned scholar and teacher / An expert on something
loot / Stolen goods / The same. But also used as a verb.
pyjama / “pai” + “jama”, literally “clothing for legs”
almirah / Closet, cupboard / The same. More common in British English.
khaki / The color of ash / Brown. Soldiers’ pants were brown, hence the association with the clothing item.

These are just some off the top of my head. Most of these crept into usage during the Raj and came westwards with the Brits. Wikipedia has a more complete listUrbanDictionary has a longer list, though they’re mostly expletives, and not in common use.