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List of English words of persian origin

English words of Persian origin

As fellow Indo-European languages, English and Persian have many words which share a common Proto-Indo-European origin, and many of these cognate words often have similar forms. However, this article will be concerned with loanwords, that is, words in English that derive from Persian, either directly, or more often, via one or more intermediary languages.

Many words of Persian origin have made their way into the English language through different, often circuitous, routes. Some of them, like "paradise" date to the cultural contacts between the Persians and Greeks in the Hellenistic culture of Antiquity, and through Greek and then Latin found their way to English. Or Mihrab from the time of Persian conflicts with Rome. Persian as the second important language of Islam has influenced many languages in the Muslim world, and its words have found their way beyond the Muslim world.

 

Persia remained largely impenetrable to English-speaking travellers, well into the 19th century. This may explain why not quite as many Persian words as one may imagine have made their way in English. Persia was protected from Europe by overland trade routes that passed through territory inhospitable to foreigners, while trade at Persian ports in the Persian Gulf was in the hands of locals. In contrast, intrepid English traders operated in Mediterranean seaports of the Levant from the 1570s, and some vocabulary describing features of Ottoman culture found their way into the English language. Thus many in the following list of English borrowings, though they were originally from Persian, arrived in English through Turkish mediaries. Compare List of English words of Etruscan origin for a similar situation.

Other words of Persian origin found their way into European languages - and eventually reached English at second-hand— through the Moorish-Christian cultural interface in the Iberian peninsula during the Middle Ages thus being transmitted through Arabic or, much later, through Hindi during the British Raj.

Contents
 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

Top of page

 
 
 

 

A

 

Ahriman

from Persian Ahriman.

Ahura Mazda 

from Old. Persian (Zoroastrian god)

Angra Mainyu 

older version of Ahriman

Armenia

from Persian Arman.

Asmodeus 

evil spirit, prince of demons, from L. Asmodaeus, from Gk. Asmodaios, from Talmudic Heb. Ashmeday, from Avestan (Old-Iranian) Aesh-ma-dæva, lit. "Aeshma the deceitful." Aeshma is the Zoroastrian daeva of wrath. This trait association was also passed on.

Arya 

from Ariya

aubergine 

from Persian ??????? baadinjaan itself maybe originally from Sanskrit.

azure (color) 

from Medieval Latin azuraa, from Persian Ajaward

 
 

 

B

babouche 

from Pers. papush, from pa "foot" + posh "covering."

Bactrian 

from Pers. baakhtar "the west."

baksheesh 

from Pers. bakhshish, lit. "gift," from verb bakhshidan "to give."

Ban (title) 

"governor of Croatia," from Serbo-Croat. ban "lord, master, ruler," from Pers. ban "prince, lord, chief, governor,"

barbican

Pers. (khaane "house").

bazaar 

from Persian baazaar (="market"), from Middle-Persian bahaa-zaar ("The Place of Prices").

bezoar 

from paad-zahr

bombast 

from pambak "cotton".

borax 

from burah

bronze 

Perhaps ultimately from Pers. birinj "an alloy of copper (mainly) and ..."

bulbul 

from bulbul (=type of migratory songbird native to Kenya)

buzkashi 

from Pers. buz "goat" + kashi "drawing."
 
 
 
 

C


calabash 

from Pers. kharabuz, Kharbuzeh

cameo 

from Pers. chumahan "agate."

carafe 

probably from Pers. qarabah "a large flagon."

caravan 

from kaarawaan =("to go")

Casper 

from Persian Jasper

cassock 

probably ult. from Pers. kazhagand "padded coat," from kazh "raw silk" + agana "stuffed."

caviar 

from Khaag-aavar ("bringer of eggs")

chador 

from chaador "tent"

check 

check (n.) from O.Fr. eschequier "a check at chess," from eschec, from V.L. *scaccus, from Pers. shah "king," the principal piece in a chess game (see shah). When the king is in check a player's choices are limited. Meaning widened from chess to general sense of "adverse event, sudden stoppage" and by c.1700 to "a token used to check against loss or theft" (surviving in hat check) and "a check against forgery or alteration," which gave the modern financial use of "bank check, money draft" (first recorded 1798), probably influenced by exchequeur. Check-up "careful examination" is 1921, Amer.Eng., on notion of a checklist of things to be examined.

checkmate 

from Middle French eschec mat, from Persian shaah maat (="the King cannot escape")

chess 

from Russian Shach, from Persian shah ("the King"), an abbreviation of Shaah-maat (Checkmate).

cinnabar 

probably from Pers. zanjifrah

Cumin 

from Kerman

cummerbund 

from Hindi kamarband, from Persian, from kamar (="waist") + band (="band")

Cyrus

from Persian Kurosh, diminutive: Cy
 

 

D

 

Darius

Daryoosh

Darya -e- noor 

See of light

demitasse 

from Fr., lit. "half-cup," from demi- + tasse, an O.Fr. borrowing from Arabic tassah, from Pers. tasht "cup, saucer".

dervish 

from Darvish

divan 

via Turkish divan but originally from Persian devaan (="place of assembly", "roster"), from Old Persian dipi (="writing, document") + vahanam (="house")


 

 

E

 

Esther

from Persian setareh, its diminutives are: Ess, Essie, Tess, Tessie.

Euphrates 

O.E. Eufrate, from Gk., from Avestan (Old-Iranian) huperethuua "good to cross over," from hu- "good" + peretu- "ford."

 

F

Fairy 

From Pers Pari (Demons)

Farsi 

the local name for Persian in Persian.

Feringhee 

from Pers. Farangi: from the word French: a person from France: the first foreigners that significantly influenced the government under the Ghajar dynasty in Iran.

firman 

from Persian farmaan ("decree", "order").

 
 

G

 

galingale 

from Persian khalanjan, a plant.

Georgia

from Persian Gurjistaan.

gherkin 

possibly ult. from Medieval Gk. angourion "a kind of cucumber," said to be from Pers. angarah

giaour 

from Pers. gaur, variant of gabr "fire-worshipper,"

guitar 

from ancient Greek kithara, perhaps from Persian sitaar "Three snares".

 
 

H

  henna 

Zie.

Hindu 

from Pers. Hindu "Indian"



 
 
 
 
 

 

I

 

India

from Persian Hind.

 
 

 

J

jackal 

from Persian shaghaal, Any of several dog like mammals of the genus Canis of Africa and southern Asia that are mainly foragers feeding on plants, small animals, and occasionally carrion.

jasmine 

from yasmin, the name of a climbing plant with fragrant flowers. Variant Jasmin.

Jasper (boy's name)

from Persian meaning "treasure master".

Jasper (stone)

from Persian Yashp

jujube 

from Pers. zayzafun meaning "soft candy with date-like flavor"

julep 

from gulab (rose-water).

 
 

  K
 

kabob 

possibly from Persian kabaab

Kaftan 

from Persian khaftaan.

Kazakhstan 

Uses Persian suffix -stan

khaki 

from khaki (="made from soil", "dusty" or "of the colour of soil"), from khak (= "soil"),

Khedive 

from Pers. khidiv "prince," derivative of khuda "master, prince," from Old-Persian khvadata- "lord,"

kiosk 

from kushk (="palace, portico, pavilion") or Middle Persian gushak "corner"

Koh-i-Noor 

from Pers. kuh "mountain"."

Kyrgyzstan 

With Persian suffix -stan

 
 

  L
 

lacquer 

through Ar. lakk, from Pers. lak from Prakrit lakkhaa

lemon 

possibly from Persian limon, also possibly from Urdu, Arabic, and Turkish

lilac 

from Pers. lilak, variant of nilak "bluish," from nil "indigo"



 
 
 
 
 

  M
  magic 

from magus from Old Persian magush "mighty one"


 
  •  

    magus 

    from Old Persian magush "mighty one"

     

    magi 

    from magus from Old Persian magush "mighty one", Priest of Zoroastrianism


     
manticore 

from O. Pers. word for "man eater," cf. martiya- "man" + root of khvar- "to eat."

Mihrab

from Persian Mihr (the God Mithra)

Mithra

from the name of the Persian God Mithra.

Mithraeum

from Persian Mithra

Mithraism

mogul 

from mughul (="Mongolian")

Mosque

through Arabic masjid Originally taken from Middle-Persian mazgat (House of worship)

mummy 

from Pers. mumiya "asphalt," from mum "wax."

musk 

ultimately from Middle Persian musk, from Sanskrit muska (="testicle") from diminutive of mus (="mouse")

Mussulman 

from Pers. musulman (adj.), from Arabic muslim (q.v.) + Persian adj. suffix -an.

must (n)

via Urdu mast "intoxicated, in rut," from Pers. mast, lit. "intoxicated"

 
 

N

 naphtha 


via L., from Gk. naphtha "bitumen," perhaps from Pers. naft "oil", "pitch,"

narcissus 

may be from Persian nargis (may also be a Pelasgian word)

 

  O
  orange  

from Milanese narans, from Arabic naaranj, from Persian naarang, from Sanskrit naaranga, from some Dravidian language, possibly Tamil or Malayalam
 

  P
  pagoda 

via Portuguese pagode, from a corruption of Pers. butkada, from but "idol" + kada "dwelling."

pajamas

from Hindi paajaama, from Persian paay jaamah, from pAy (="leg") + jAma (="garment")

Pahlavi 

from Pahlavi.

paradise 

from Greek paradeisos (=enclosed park"), from Old Persian pairidaeza (="enclosure, park"), from pairi (="around") + diz (="mold, form")

parasang 

from Old-Persian parasang

pard 

Zie

Parsee 

from Paarsi

Pasha 

from Paadeshaah

Pashmina 

from Pashmineh, made from pashm; pashm (= "wool")

peach 

a corruption of the Latin word "Persicum." Peaches are called in Latin malum Persicum (Persian apple) prunum persicum (Persian plum), or simply persicum (pl. persici). This should not be confused with the more modern Linnaean classification Prunus persica, a neologism describing the peach tree itself (from the Latin prunus, -i which signifies plum tree).

Peri 

from pari

Persepolis 

from Paarsa+ Greek polis.

Persis 

from Paars

pilaf 

from pilav (modern Persian speakers say pillaw or polo)

pistachio 

from Latin pistacium, from Persian pistah

popinjay 

from O.Fr. papegai (12c.), from Sp. papagayo, from Ar. babagha', from Pers. babgha "parrot,"

Punjab 

via Hindi Panjab, from Pers. panj "five" + ab "water."
 

  R
 

Reach 

possible from Persian "Res/Ras +idan"

roc 

from Persian rukh (name of a legendary bird)

rook 

from Middle English rok, from Middle French roc, from Arabic rukhkh, from Persian rukh (=chess piece)

Rose 

from Latin rosa, probably from ancient Greek rhodon, possibly ult. from Pers. *varda-. Zie

Roxana

from Persian: Roshanak, meaning "little star" its variants in English are meaning "dawn." Variants include, Roxane and Roxanne. Diminutives are Roxie and Roxy.Rokh-sГЎna meaning "beautiful"

 

 

S

  saffron 

Zaferoon

Sapindales 

from Persian Spand

Satrap

from Persian Shatrap and Shahrab.

scarlet 

from Pers. saqirlat "a type of red cloth"

scimitar 

from Pers. shimshir (Shamshir)

seersucker 

from Hindi sirsakar, E. Indian corruption of Pers. shir o shakkar "striped cloth," lit. "milk and sugar".

Sepoy

from Persian Sipahi via Urdu

seraglio 

from saraay "inn"

serendipity 

from the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, from Persian Sarandip (="Sri Lanka"),

shah 

from shaah, from Old Persian xshaaybiya (="king"), from an Old Persian verb meaning "to rule"

Shamshir 

from shamshir

shawl 

from shaal

Sherry 

from Jerez in Spain, from Pers Shiraz, from the time of Rustamid empire in Spain

simurgh 

from simurgh

Sipahis

from Persian Sipahi via Turkish

sitar 

via Hindi sitar, from Pers. sitar "three-stringed," from si "three" (O.Pers. thri-) + tar "string"

sowar

from Persian Savaar.

spinach 

from French espinache, from Arabic isfaanaakh, from Persian from isfaanaaj, ispaanaak, or aspanaakh

-stan 

from -istaan "place" or "where one stands"

Sugar 

Possibly from Persian Shekar

Sumac 

possibly from Persian Sumak.



 
 
 
 
 

 

T

 

tabor 

probably from Middle Pers. tambur "lute"

taffeta 

from Pers. taftah "silk or linen cloth,"

Tajikistan 

With Persian suffix -stan

Taj Mahal 

from Pers., lit. "the best of buildings;" or "the Crown's Place".

talc 

from Pers. talk "talc."

tambourine 

from Middle French tambour (="drum"), possibly from Middle Pers. tambЕ«r "lute"

tandoori 

from Pers. tannur "oven, portable furnace,"

tapestry 

from taafteh

Tartar 

from M.L. Tartarus, from Pers. Tatar

tiger 

via Greek tigris from an Iranian source

toque 

from O. Pers. taq "veil, shawl."

tulip 

from French tulipe, from Turkish tГјlbend, from Persian dulband

Turan 

from Persian turaan

turban 

via Turkish tulbend, from Persian dulband Band = To close, To tie

Turkmenistan 

With Persian suffix -stan

Turkoman 

from M.L. Turcomannus, from Pers. Turkman, lit. "Turk-like," from Turk + Persian suffix -man "like."

typhoon 

from Persian Tufaan or Greek Typhon; also affected by Cantonese taai-fung



 
 
 
 
 

 

U

 

Uzbekistan 

With Persian suffix -stan



 
 
 
 
 

 

V

 

vizier 

from persian Vizier "minister" from Middle-Persian Vichir.



 
 
 
 
 

 

X

 

Xerxes 

Gk. form of O. Pers. Kshayarshan-, lit. "male (i.e. 'hero') among kings," from Kshaya- "king" (cf. shah) + arshan "male, man."



 
 
 
 
 

 

Z

 

Zarathushtra or Zarathustra 

the Persian prophet

Zena 

feminine given name from Persian Zan (woman).

Zoroaster 

from Persian Zarathushtra

Zoroastrianism



 
 

 

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