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Guess Which New Indian Origin Words Have Made It to the Oxford Dictionary?

From the endearing term, ‘Anna’ to words like Abba, Achcha, Bapu, Bada Din, Bachcha and Surya Namaskar, over 70 new Indian words from Telugu, Urdu, Tamil, Hindi and Gujarati alongside 900+ Indian words that already exist in the OED have turned global.

After our beloved expression ‘Aiyo’ made inroads into the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as the exclamation in southern India and Sri Lanka, expressing distress, regret, or grief, just last year, we are proud to reveal a host of Indian origin words that have found recognition globally just last month.

From the endearing term, ‘Anna’ to words like Abba, Achcha, Bapu, Bada Din, Bachcha and Surya Namaskar, over 70 new Indian words from Telugu, Urdu, Tamil, Hindi and Gujarati alongside 900+ Indian words that already exist in the OED have turned global.

oxford dictionary indian origin words
Representational Picture only. Source: Max Pixel

While the word ‘Anna’ already existed in the dictionary as a noun, referring to the ancient monetary unit of India and Pakistan, equal to one-sixteenth of a rupee, anna too (also Annan) as a noun, has been added.

The word ‘Anna’ is defined as ‘elder brother’ in Telugu and Tamil, often used as a respectful title or form of address.

`Abba’ find mention in the dictionary as the Urdu word for father. Achha which already existed in the dictionary as ‘okay’ has a new additional meaning as an exclamation used to express an emotion of surprise, doubt and joy.

The existing trend shows most Indian words added to the dictionary revolve around relationships, culture and food, reports the Times of India.


Read more: Over 300 People Left to Die on the Streets of Hyderabad Were Saved by This Man


Some of the other Indian-origin words that you may or may not know have been recognised by the OED include:

1. Badmash: In Hindi, it refers to “a dishonest or unprincipled man.”

2. Bhelpuri: “An Indian dish of puffed rice, onions, spices, and hot chutney.”

3. Churidar: “tight trousers made with excess material at the bottom of the legs, which falls in folds around the ankles, traditionally worn by people from South Asia.”

4. Chutney: “a spicy condiment of Indian origin, made of fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar.”

5. Dhaba: “In India or Indian contexts: a roadside food stall or restaurant.”

6. Didi: “an older sister or older female cousin.”

7. Ganja: A Hindi word for cannabis, ganja is often used to mean weed or marijuana.

8. Ghee: “Clarified butter made from the milk of a buffalo or cow, used in South Asian cooking.”

9. Keema: In Indian cooking, minced meat.

10. Masala: “a mixture of ground spices used in Indian cooking.”

11. Papad: poppadom in Indian cooking (a large circular piece of thin, spiced bread made from ground lentils and fried in oil.)

12. Pukka: “genuine; excellent; of or appropriate to high or respectable society.”

It became popular as part of Chef Jamie Oliver’s show and was used as a London slang term, to refer to first-rate or excellent. The three descriptions in the dictionary aren’t consonant to any of its Indian synonyms.

13. Puri: “(in Indian cooking) a small, round piece of bread made of unleavened wheat flour, deep-fried and served with meat or vegetables”.

14. Yaar: the colloquial Indian word, yaar, has been defined as a noun to refer to a ‘familiar form of address: friend, mate’.

The Oxford dictionary regularly updates its database four times a year including March, June, September, and December.

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Written by Jovita Aranha

A lover of people, cats, food, music, books & films. In that order. Binge-watcher of The Office & several other shows. A storyteller on her journey to document extraordinary stories of ordinary people.