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In researching Calcutta history one often comes across words, which are not immediately understood any more, or are unknown to people from outside India. For this we have set out a glossary underneath. In addition to that we also have a list of measurements and currencies in use in the 1940s as well as a calendar of the 1940s.
This is a glossary of terms and abbreviations both English and from Indian languages relevant to Calcutta.
(beng.) = Bengali; (hind.) = Hindustani/Hindi term, (mil.sl.) = military slang
(musl.) = muslim term, (orig.) = originally, (pr.) = pronunciation, (sl.)= slang
A great resource for deciphering special British-Indian terms is:
A very detailed dictionary of terms peculiar to the English language as used in India during the British Raj. Many of the terms are more or less modified version of Persian, Bengali, Hindustani, or Malay words.
The dictionary was developed in the 19th century and by the 1940s quite a few terms had died out or changed their meaning (e.g. “Anglo-Indian”). Nevertheless, a lot where still in use until independence and some time after and many have also made their way into the modern British English and even more into Indian English. A vital tool for all researchers into British Indian life and history.
New ed. edited by William Crooke, B.A.
London: J. Murray, 1903.
ONLINE Hobson Jobson at DSAL (Digital South Asia Library of the University of Chicago)
The Hobson-Jobson Dictionary at Bibliomania
420 – a term indicating some sort of illegality, after a clause in the Indian criminal code.
aam - mango
abhadra – vulgar crude
abhijata – notable
abwab – traditional unauthorised charges levied in excess of the formal rent
accha / achcha - good, all right, okay
achkan (musl.) – long men’s coat
acharan – character
adhi – half
adhiar – sharecropper who needs to pass on half his harvest as rent
adhinayak – commander
admi / aadmi – (hind.) man, men
aftaba - water pot with spout and handle
Agha Khan (musl.) – Indo-Muslim leader of the Ismaili Shiites
agarbattis - Incense sticks which are burned before the image of a deity.
ague - Any fever, such as malaria, that recurs at regular intervals (from Medieval Latin febris acuta, literally, sharp fever)
ahimsa - Gandhian doctrin of non-violence / Non-violence (a privative; hirnsa, violence). This is an ancient Hindu precept, proclaimed by Buddha, by disciples of Vishnu, and by Mahavira, founder of Jainism.
ahlmads - Indian clerk
most importnat islamic brotherhood in India (deriving fromSunni Islam)
originating in Qadian in the Punjab (Qadiani is another term for them). In
1889, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) affirmed that he was the final prophet
(mahdi) of Islam and also worshiped Jesus and
ail – landmarker between two plots of land
aimadar – intermediate tenure holder, particularly in Burdwan
AICC - All India Congress Committee
AIKS - All India Kisan Sabha
AIR – All India Radio
AITUC – All India Trade Union Congress
akhand Hindusthan (Greater Hindoustan) – Hinduist project favouring a Greater India containing Afghanistan, Nepal, Ceylon, Bhutan, Burma and British as well as princely India
akhra – gymnasium or sporting club
Allah kerim! - Allah be merciful!
All India Muslim League (AIML) (musl.) – central organisation of the Muslim League
almirah - wardrobe, chest of drawers
alpana - floor painting with symbols of fertility (fish, bangles, jewellery, footsteps of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune), drawn with a paste made of rice-powder or flour mixed with water, usually round or square like a mandala, on such occasions as weddings, the Lakshmi festival or other functions.
alu / aloo - potato
AMERY, Leo, - Secretary of State for India 1940-5.
amal – revenue collector
amin – Indian assistants in land survey duties
amla – employee of a landlord
amrood - (hind.) guava
anaras - (beng.) pineapple
ananas - (hind.) pineapple
anda - (hind.) egg
Islands south of
Anglo-Indian - or "AI" : Eurasian. Has replaced Eurasian found derogatory. First meaning before the shift: Creole, Indian born British Anglo-Indians. / between 1919 and 1947, this community re-united the Domiciled Europeans and the racially mixed population (Half-caste, Half-breed, Mixed Blood, Indo-European, Indo-Briton, East Indian, Eurasian).
Angrezi / Ingrezi- English
anjuman (musl.) – Islamic religious association recognised by the British government
anna - Coin worth 1/16th of a rupee
anushilan – practice
AP - Armour piercing (ammunition).
ap / aap – (hind.) polite form of “thou” (used to equals or superiors)
apaman – insult
Arakan (musl.) – Burmese province the northern districts of which are majority Muslim and border on the district of Chittagong.
archarji / acharyaji / acharya - teacher, priest often found in Brahmin family name (e.g. Bhattarcharya)
arhar dal - (beng.) split pigeon peas
Arjuna - hero of the Mahabharata, recipient of Krishna's teachings of the Bhagavad Gita
arrack – native spirituous liquor
arre - Oh!
ARP – Air Raid Precautions
Aryan - (lit. Sanskrit - "noble"), people who immigrated to the North of India three to four thousand years ago
Arya Samaj (Aryan Society) – moderate hinduist association created by Saraswati (1824-1883).
ashraf (musl.) – Indo-Muslim elite social group / nobility
ashram - (lit. - "hermitage") spiritual retreat; home of a religious community or school; place of discipline and service.
ashustho - untouchable
asil – (hind.) calm
asli nahin – (hind.) not real
aste - slowly
asti bat karo - speak slowly
asura / assura - demon
atrap or ajlaf (musl.) – social category amongst Indo-Muslims in between the ashrafs and the azrals / commoners
atta - whole wheat flour
atyachar – cruelty, oppression
ATTLEE, C. R. - First Earl. Opposition leader 1935-40; Lord Privy Seal 1940-2; Deputy Prime Minister 1942-5; Prime Minister 1945-51.
AUCHINLEK, Field Marshal Sir Claude - Commander-in-Chief India.1941 and 1943-7; Commander-in-Chief Middle East 1941—2; Supreme Commander in India and Pakistan 1947.auto-rickshaw - noisy, usually fume spitting three wheeled "taxi"
avataar - incarnation of a deity, such as "Buddha was the 9th incarnation of Vishnu"
ayah - lady’s personal maid , and nanny / nurse-maid for children
ayurveda - Indian herbal medicine
AZAD, M. A. K. - Congress President 1940-6
Azad Hind Fauj – Indian National Army, which fought in Burma with the Japanese against the British.
azan (musl.) – Muslim call to prayer
azral (musl.) – modest social category amongst Indo-Muslims.(see ashraf)
babu / baboo - Hindu gentleman or clerk. As an insult, an Indian who has some English education.
Babuji - term of respect and friendliness
babul - thorny mimosa with aromatic yellow flowers
bachcha / batcha / butcha - child, infant
badmash / budmaash – rascal, scoundrel, criminal
badshah / bashaw – King, lord or master
bagans - gardens
bagardar - sharecropper
bagh - garden
Baghbazar – Hindu Newspaper
Bahadur - honorific title of Mughal origin, lit. “brave” bahadur - Term of respect (Hindi for champion)
bahkshikhana - Pay Office
bahut accha / bahoot achcha – (hind.) very good
bai, behn – (hind.) A kindly way of addressing a woman.
baida / boida / vaid / vaidya - ayurvedic doctor, or someone belonging to the Bengali Doctor caste. Some common surnames of Bengali Baidas are: Gupta, Sen, Das, Dasgupta, Sengpta, Kar, Rakshit, Datta.
baidyabati – common household knife
baigan - (hind.) brinjal/aubergine/eggplant
baipari – agent, tradesman
baisakh – first month of Bengali calendar (mid April-mid May)
bait – (mil.sl.) food snack
baitoe / bhaitoh - sit, wait
baja - musical instrument
bakri - (hind.) mutton (really goatmeat)
baksheesh - gratuity, hence “buckshee"= free (mil. sl), can be a tip, a bribe or a donation to a beggar.
balushai - sweetmeat
bandar - monkey
bande mataram – ‘Hail thee Motherland’, title of a patriotic song written by Bankimchandra Chatterji, the anthem of Indian freedom movement.
bandh - general strike
bandha kopi - (beng.) cabbage
bandobast / bandabast / bundobast / bundabast - Organization, arrangement, preparation, a battalion, household management, a 'pukka bandabast' is an efficient arrangement.
Bangal - from Eastern Bengal, sometime used as derogatory term.
Bangalore Torpedo - A length of piping filled with explosive, used for blowing a gap in barbed-wire entanglements.
banja / bania / banya / bunnia - trade caste, money-lender, or corn merchant, Indian merchant
banyan - Indian fig tree
bap / baap – (hind.) father
Bapu - Familiar title for father in Gujarati. Used throughout India as a title of respect for M.K. Gandhi.
baralok – elites, lit. big people
barga – share
bargadar – sharecroppers who pay a fixed proportion of the harvest as rent
bari – home
barkandaz – mesenger
Barro Din / Borro Din / Burra Din – Christmas (the Big Day)
basha – (beng.) hut, (mil sl.) for barrack room, now also used for a local associaton of US - CBI veterans.
bass / bus - enough, finish (usually said twice)
bass / bus hogia – (hind.) finished, ended
bastra – cloth
basket pudding - fruit trifle inside a burnt sugar casing
basta - cloth wrapped around a file to keep out dust
bat / baat – (hind.) speech, talk, language, words
batak - (hind.) duck
batta - Special pay for Indian sepoys stationed outside India
batul-mal / bayt al mal (musl.) – administration towards the public good carried out by muslim religiouis authorities
baul - Bengali bard, usually itinerant
bawarchikhana – (hind.) kitchen
Bayt Allah – house of God, mosque
bazugar - acrobat, tumbler
BBC - British Broadcasting Corporation
BCS – Bengal Civil Service
bearer - head-servant, buttler, waiter
Beaufighter Mk VI - A British long-range fighter with crew of two. Armed with four 20mm cannon and six .303 in machine guns, and eight rockets.
begar – unpaid labour for landlord
begoon - (beng.) brinjal/aubergine/eggplant
behosh – delirious
Betki - Sea fish often seved fried or baked
belati – foreign goods, mainly from Britain
Belait - anywhere foreign but to British troops it meant England (hence “Blighty”)
BEM - British Empire Medal
Bengal Army - The most prestigious of the four British Indian armies.
other name for East Pakistan (Bengal and
betki / bekti - a variety of fish
ber - (hind.) Indian plum
besan - chickpea flour
bhaat - (beng.) cooked rice
bhadra – polite, cultivated
bhadralok - Bengali gentleman, educated upper classes
bhagchasi - sharecropper
Bhagavad Gita - Hindu "Song of the Divine One"; Krishna's teachings to Arjuna written as a philosophical dialogue in the form of a long poem of 700 stanzas, part of the Mahabharata.
Bhagini Sena – Sisters’ brigade
bhai / by - brother
bhaian - Hymn.
bhakti - devotion
bhang / bhung - expensive drug derived from hemp, marijuana-leaf pasted with milk. The traditional drink of all castes and classes during the Holy festival (Hindi bhag),
Bharat - Hindi name for India
bhavan - house, residence.
bherar mangsho - (beng.) mutton
bheri - (hind.) mutton
bhetki – (beng.) beckti fish
bhetki machchi – (hind.) beckti fish
bhils - marshes or ponds
bhisti - water-carrier orig. “man of Heaven”
bhoosa - hay, also sawdust
bhuda lok - the grown ups
bhut – ghost, devli
bibi / bint – (mil.sl.) girl
bidi - a tiny amount of cheap tobacco wrapped in a leaf, tied with some string; contains hardly any nicotine but hideous amounts of tar
bindi - forehead mark worn by Hindu women
bioscope - cinema
biplab - rebellion
black water fever - A type of malaria that causes anemia and brown or black urine due to the destruction of red blood cells.
BLA – Bengal Labour Association
BLA – Bengal Legislative Assembly (Lower House)
BLC – Bengal Legislative Council (Upper House)
Blighty - the U.K. (from willayet, the country in Persian)
blimey - From Gorblimey!, meaning "God blind me"
bobbajee - British name for an Indian cook.
bohin / bahen / bahain – (hind.) sister
Bohra (musl.) – Ismaili Shiite subgroup (like the khojas of the Agha Khan) of whoch the best known families are the Dawoods and the Adamjees.
boi - (hind.) mullet
boli – speech / sacrifice
Bombay Army - One of the four original British Indian armies.
boniyadi – traditional propertied, aristocratic
BOR - British Other Ranks, non-officers
Borchi Khana - Cook-house
bori - small sun-dried cones of lentil paste
BOSE, Sarat Chandra - Leader of Congress Parliamentary Party in Bengal 1937-9; fell out with Congress in 1946 when he formed the Socialist Party.
BOSE, Subhas Chandra - Congress President 1938—9; organized Indian National Army 1942.
Bottle Khana - Pantry
boudi - Wife of elder brother.
box wallahs – Europeans involved in trade i.e. not in the armed or civil services and ranked below them in status.
BPCC – Bengal Provincial Congress Committee
BPHM – Bengal Provincial Hindu Mahasabha
BPKS – Bengal Provincial Kisan Sabha
BPML – Bengal Provincial Muslim League
BPTUC – Bengal Provincial Trade Union Congress
Brahma - Hindu God, creator, source of all existence
Brahmacharya - Continence, sexual self-restraint; literally, conduct that leads one to God.
Brahman - The essence of the godhead.
brahmin - highest of the Hindu caste, caste of priests, those who have knowledge; often, though incorrectly, spelled Brahman. Some common surnames of Bengali brahmins are: Mukhopadhya/Mukherjee, Bandyopadhya/Bannerjee, Chattopadhya/Chatterjee, Gangopadhya/Ganguly, Ghosal, Lahiri, Sanyal, Maitra, Bagchi, Bhadari.
Brahmo Samaj – association of the first modernist Hindus led originally by Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833).
bratachari – traditional form of physical culture, dance
breast cutlet - braised cutlet
Bren - The British light machine-gun of the Second World War and until the late 1950s. Fired a standard .303in round from a 30-round magazine (usually loaded with 28 rounds).
brew – (mil. sl.) Tea
brevet - A temporary higher rank, for example, a captain being a brevet colonel. It was not unusual for British colonial officers on loan to another regiment to be temporarily classed as a higher rank in that regiment but to paid for the lesser rank of their actual regiment. (Old French, diminutive of brief letter)
brigade major (BM) - The senior operations officer of a brigade, de-facto chief of staff.
brittibhogi - professional
brolly - umbrella
Buddha - "Awakened One", originator of Buddhism (app. 600 BC); by Hindus considered as the 9th incarnation of Vishnu
budgerow - country river boat
bukari - wood and coal burning stove/oven
bukh - talk
bukhshi - army paymaster
bul-bul - nightingale
bund - embankment
bund gobi - (hind.) cabbage
bundook - (mil.sl.) rifle
bungalow - One-storied house with a low-pitched roof (Hindi bangla, "in the Bengal style")
bun strangler – (mil. sl.) Non-drinker
burgoo – porridge from Turkish burghal.
burkah - sac-like covering from head to foot worn by Muslim women in purdah
burra - important, great, large
burra khana - grand meal
burra muchli - big fish
BURROWS, Sir Frederick - Governor of Bengal 1946—7.
burruf / barf - ice
bursat / barsaat - rains (monsoon)
burra sahib - Anybody holding a senior or important position ('burra' = big): hence, one's boss..
bus! – fnshed!, the end!
bundook - rifle, shotgun
bustees - flimsy huts, squatter colony
buts - Buddhist images
byayam - exercise
byle - ox or bullock
caju - cashew
Calcutta Chamber of Commerce (CoC) – Chamber of commerce of Calcutta.
Calcutta University (CU) – not only a reputed university, but also an institution with over sight over education in the entire province.
caliph – Ruler of Turkey and religious leader
cantonments - Permanent British military bases usually located just outside of a town or city
caravan - Travelers on a journey through hostile regions (Italian caravana, from Persian karwan).
CASEY, Baronet. G. - Governor of Bengal 1944-6.
caster - discharged Army horse
Catla-fish - Bengali river or pond fish
CBE - Commander of the Order of the British Empire
CBI – China, Burma, India, US military term to demote the South and South East Asian theatre of operation, as opposed to the Pacific.
Cdr - Commander
CE - Church of England
Central Bureau of Information – arm of the Indian Ministry of the Interior whioch supervises the British Council, the news agencies Reuters and the Associated Press Of India.
Central National Mahommedan Association (musl.) – organisation of the end of the 19th century aiming at equal representation of Muslims and Hindus in all institutions of colonial government.
chaap - rib chop
chabuk - whip
chadar - Cloak
chagul / chaggle - A canvas water bag. Keeps water marvellously cool in hot weather through condensation.
cha / chae / chai / chah / char - tea usually sugary milky tea. The best is usually made all milk with no water.
cha wallah / chai-wallah - Hot tea seller
chakuri - service
chalak - sly, smart, untrustorthy
chaler guro - (beng.) rice flour
challan - consignment
chamar - of low caste/ from “chumra” a shoemaker
chana dal - (hind.) bengal gram
chandu - opium
chapati – (hind.) flat round unleavened bread
char - four
charka – spinning wheel, one of the symbols of Gandhi
charpoy - A bed, frame strung with tapes or light rope (Hindustani carpai)
chasha / chasi - peasant
chasha / chasi –mula – peasant-worker
chappals / chaplies - sandals
chappatti – Indian pancake, unlevend bread
chaprassie - uniformed office messenger
chash - cultivation
chashadi – cultivation et cetera
charkha - The hand spinning wheel.
charass - hash made of the resin of the buds of the female cannabis plant.
charpoi - string framed bed
chatti - earthen pot, porous to keep water cool
chaung - Burmese for watercourse or minor river, could be as narrow as a ditch or wide enough for small craft, particularly near the coast.
chawal - (hind.) cooked rice
chawal atta - (hind.) rice flour
chee-chee - Half-caste, mixed race of British and Indian. Also the sing- song accent of same, from the early influence of Welsh missionaries.
cheeny / cini - sugar
chela - young disciple, orig. household slave
chello / chollo - "Go away!" or "Let's go!"
cheroot – Cigar, ciarette
chhana - (beng.) cottage cheese
chhilke - (hind.) peels, scrapings
chholar dal - (beng.) bengal gram
chick / chik - door screen made of split bamboo, slatted blind
chil / cheel - a kite (bird)
chillum - conical upright pipe to smoke charas (and sometimes tobacco) chillam - a hookah
chine badam - (beng.) peanut
chingri - (beng.) prawns/shrimp
chirag - clay oil lamp
chirey - (beng.) flattened or beaten rice
chit / chitty - note, letter/promissory note, reference, note of hand, memo of account
chittack - 2 oz
chiton - dress
choga - loose upper garment
chokra - small boy
cholo – Let’s go!
cholera belt - A body wrapping of flannel worn to supposedly prevent cholera. Used in India until about 1920.
choola - Cooking place, clay oven
choop / chup - silent, still
chor - thief
chota - Small, opposite of barra
chota hazri - early morning tea/ breakfast
chota peg - Small drink, a gin and tonic
chota wallah - Little guy
choungri - duster for god idol (made of yak hair)
chowk - intersection or sometimes town square.
chowki - toll or police station (hence mil. sl.“chokey”)
chowkidar / chaukidar / chokidar - caretaker, watchman, guard
chubara / chubutra - garden pavilion
chudder - veil in front of a woman's face
chukka - time during a polo match
chula - oven
chummery – residential quarters shared by a number of bachelors
chunam - lime, plaster
chupkan – native Indian frock-coat
chuppar - thatch
chuprassi - messenger (pr.”chaprassi”)
chumars - low caste leather-workers (see chamar)
chur – sandbank or sandy spit of land
chura / poha - (hind.) flattened or beaten rice
churi - bangles
chhut-ti / chuti / chhuti - leave, dismissal
cicalas - cicadas
cinematrograph - Early motion pictures c. 1900. Also known as viagraph or bioscope.
class regiment - Indian Army regiment whose members were all recruited from one ethnic group such as Sikhs, Gurkhas, etc.
clobber - Uniform, clothing
Co - Company
CO - Commanding Officer
CoC (Calcutta Chamber of Commerce) – Chamber of commerce of Calcutta.
coggage – (mil.sl.) paper (fro kagoj)
college – (mil.sl.) prison (as in, "I've been to college.")
Communal Award – communalist negotiations dating to 1932 the results of which where put in place by British Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald (1866-1937).
of the Star of
Congress Nationalist Party (CNP) – group on the left of Congress
connor – (mil.sl.) food (from khana)
consumption - Pulmonary tuberculosis or any other wasting-away disease that "consumed" its victims.
coolie / cooly - hired labourer
commando - Refers to either the individual commando soldier or marine, or to the unit.
competition-wallah - someone who competes for a place in the ICS by sitting for competitive exams not by patronage
Congress - The Indian National Congress
CrPC – Indian Criminal Procedure Code
crore - 10 million
corps - A formation of at least two divisions commanded by a lieutenant general.
(Companion of the Star of
CSP – Congress Socialist Party
CP - Central Provinces and Berar
CPI – Communist Party of India
CPI(M) – Communist Party of India (Marxist)
CPI(M-L) – Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)
CPO - Chief Petty Officer
CRA - Commander Royal Artillery.
Cres - Crescent
croaker - A dying person, a corpse, or someone who has given up.
crore - 10 million in the Anlgo-Indian counting system. In numbers it is written 1,00,00,000 and not as 10,000,000 / 100 lakhs
crorepati - millionaire
CSM - Company sergeant major.
cutch / kutcha - Inferior, crude, the opposite of pukka
cutchery - building in district HQ which houses district officers, the treasury and magistrates court, landlords’ office /stores
cushy / khushi - Easy (Hindi khush pleasant, from Persian khush )
CWC - Congress Working Committee
dacoit - bandit, armed robber
dacoity - robbery
dadni - moneylending
dafadar - Indian cavalry sergeant, also village watchman
dah – heavy knife , machete (Burmese)
dahi - (hind.) yogurt
dai - midwife
daisy-roots – (mil. sl.) Boots
dak - (pronounced 'dark'). post, mail, journey / fine thin writing paper used for postal purposes
dak bungalow - resthouse for official travelers
dak-wallah - postman.
dakhil daftar - record room in government office
Dakshina - Offering to God, commonly used to refer to the fee of a priest.
dal – party, faction
dalan bari – brick built, pucca house
dalil patra – certificate, document
dandy - Himalayan hammock like litter
dar al-harb (musl.) – in Islamic thought the country of war, the battle field of djihad.
dar al-islam (musl.) – in Islamic thought the country of peace, home of Islam.
dar as-soulh (dar as-salam) (musl.) – in Islamic thought the country of ceasefire, waiting for Islam
dar-patnidar – intermediate tenure-holder
Dar-ul-Islam – Islamic state
daroga / darogah - village constable
Darshan - A form of spiritual happiness induced by being in the presence of a cherished person, place, or thing.
darzi /durzi – tailor
dastur - customs
dasturi - commission on a transaction
DBE - Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire
DC - Deputy Commissioner
DCC – District Congress Committee
DCM - Distinguished Conduct Medal. Instituted in 1854 as the equivalent of the DSO for warrant officers, NCOs and soldiers of the army (and Royal Marines when under army command). Awarded for gallantry in action. Now discontinued.
degchies - cooking utensils
dekko - To take a look (Hindi, deckna, to look)
DEMS - Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship
Deoband (musl.) – town in the United Provinces and seat of the education centres for orthodox Sunni clergy faithful to the Hanafite stream of Sunni Islam. The Deobandis considered the Shiites as apostates.
deodar - coniferous tree, Himalayan cedar, sacred to Hindus (Cedrus deodara)
deria / derii / dera – produce loan
dersi – (mil.sl.) tailor
desh – nation, native place
Deshbandhu – A friend of the country, tilte of C.R. Das
Deva - God
devanagari – alphabet of Sanskrit origin which is used to write Hindi and several languages in the north of India.
Devata - village god
Devi - Goddess
dewanee - madness
dewan - manager
dewas - Godlike image
DF - Defensive fire - mortar, artillery., or mortar gun fire by troops in defensive positions against attacking troops or patrols. Usually pre-registered on a number of key places, and numbered, so a particular DF can be called down quickly by reference to its number. Guns and mortars will be laid on the DF SOS when not engaged on other tasks. As its name implies, the DF SOS is the target deemed to be the most dangerous to the defenders.
DFC - Distinguished Flying Cross
DFM - Distinguished Flying Medal
dhaba - cheap eating place, often on the road side
dhal - shield
dharamsala - pilgrim's rest house
Dharma - Religion or religious duty; code of morals or behaviour adhered to by Hindus and Buddhists
Dharmaablamban – religious practice
dharmagola – collective grain store
dharzee / durzee - tailor
dhobi – washing , also washerman (short for dhobi wallah)
dhobi wallah - Indian who did the washing
dhodie - Indian bearers
dhoka - deceit
dhol - big drum
dhoolie / dooli - bamboo stretcher, light palanquin, medical stretcher. Also, a light litter often used for carrying the sick or wounded
dhoolie wallah - Indian dhoolie carrier
dhoop - incence, looks like charass and is sometimes sold as such to unsuspecting tourists
dhoti - cloth wrapped around the waist and pulled up between the legs, worn by Hindu men in the South/Plains, usually a long piece with ornamental borders that is tucked in at the waist.
dhyana - meditation
DIG - Deputy Inspector General
dil - heart
Dilhi Cholo – To Delhi!, the call to Arms of the INA.
dim - (beng.) egg
din - religion, also day
direct fire - Weapons that have to be aimed directly at the target as opposed to indirect fire weapons such as mortars and artillery.
Direct Contact – Movement launched by Congress between 1937 et 1939 to rally the Indo-Muslim political parties which were not members of the Muslim League.
subdivision of a province. There were 27 districts in pre-independence
grouping of districts. There were 4 divisions in pre-independence
Diwali - Hindu festival of light
diwan – chief native officer of a landlord or raja / Chief Minister / consultative assembly / type of sofa
DM – District Magistrate
DO - District Officer
do - two
doab - land between two rivers
doggo – (mil. sl.) To lie doggo, to hide. Probably from "dog" 
doi - (beng.) yogurt
dom - low caste cleaner
Europeans who permanently reside in
dongi – canoe made of sheth of plantain leaves
donkey walloper – (mil. sl.) Infantry disparaging term for cavalry
dood – (mil.sl.) milk
doolally – (mil.sl.) mad (from Deolali, Indian transt camp famous for sunstroke)
doomb - fat-tailed sheep
dosa - large crispy lentil flour pancake, served with chutney
dowry - money and presents given at marriage time by a bride's parent to their son-in-law's family (illegal, but very often practised)
Dravidistan (musl.) – term used by Muslim separatists for a non-arian state which they planned to set up in the south of India
DSC - Distinguished Service Cross
DSM - Distinguished Service Medal
DSO - Distinguished Service Order. Instituted in 1886. Until the awards system was changed in 1994, it was a dual-role decoration, recognizing gallantry at a level just below that qualifying for the VC by junior officers, and exceptional leadership in battle by senior officers. Officers of all three services were and are eligible. Since 1994, it is far less prestigious, and awarded for successful command and leadership in 'operational' circumstances. What constitutes 'operations' is open to question, since DSOs appear to 'come up with the rations' after so-called operations when hardly a shot has been fired in anger.
duftar - office
durbar – royal court audience, meeting, levee
Durga - Hindu Goddess, wife of Lord Shiva
dun - flat area in hills
dupatta - scarf for head or shoulders, worn by women
durbar - court Durbar - public audience
Durga - Goddess, "the Inaccessible", another form of Kali, riding a tiger, major goddess of the Sakti cult
durwan - gate-keeper, doorman
durwaza - door
durwaza bund - door shut (not at home)
duser – (mil.sl.) other
dushman - enemy
dustoorie - “commission” payment
dyspepsia - Indigestion (Latin, from Greek, from dys- + pepsis digestion )
DZ - dropping zone, the area chosen for landing by parachute troops, or on which supplies are to be dropped.
ek - one
ek dum - at once, immediately
ek chota – small tot of whisky
ekka / ecka - a small two wheeled one-horse carriage
elaka - area
enchor - (beng.) green jackfruit
enteric fever - Typhoid fever
European – member of the British community, born in Britain and benefiting from full British citizenship (as opposed to the Domiciled Europeans).
eve-teasing - India’s somewhat polite and fluffy term for sexual harassment, covering everything from wolf-whistling to gang rape.
fakir - religious beggars, Indian muslim holy man (equivalent of Hindu Sadhu), wonder worker (Arabic faqIr, poor man),
Fakistan – expression coined by the press opposed to the idea of Pakistan, meaning "faux Pakistan".
Faraizi (musl.) – Wahabite brotherhood who had an autonomous territory in East Bengal and were very rebellious towards colonial authority.
farash - carpet-layer
fareib - fraud / trick
fatka – speculation
fauz – forces
FB – Forward Bloc
ferao - scarlet woodpecker
ferash - date tree
fiqh (musl.) – Islamic law
Fishing Fleet - Unmarried British women sent to India each year by their parents during the cool weather to find husbands.
Flak - Slang for anti-aircraft fire, from the German for anti-aircraft gun, fliegerabwehrkanone.
Fl Sgt - Flight Sergeant
FO - Flying Officer
FOB - Forward Observer Bombardment, a Royal Artillery officer who spotted for naval guns bombarding shore targets. His party consisted of Royal Naval telegraphists (the RN name for a radio operator), to communicate with the supporting ships.
Forms of address - Forms of address vary, depending on the sex, the age, the race, the religion. Sir, Madam, Miss can be used on all occasions. Bengali gentlemen can be addressed by adding "Babu" to their first name. Mr Gangaprasad Mukherjee will be called Gangaprasad Babu. Europeans are called Mr, Madam, Miss but Sahib, Memsahib, Baba (or Master for boys. Missy for girls) are still used, even among the Indians, as a mark of humble respect that smacks in some cases of colonialism fossilised. Policemen, anybody in uniform can be called "Officer Sahib", Sikhs "Sardarji", Nepalis "Bahadur", old Muslims "Maulana", young man as "Brother, Bra or Bhai". To attract attention, say "accha" loudly.
FOO - Forward Observation Officer, an artillery officer who directs artillery fire. Normally one with each forward rifle company and provided by artillery battery supporting the infantry battalion.
Forward Block – Radical faction in the Bengal Provincial Congress, founded by Suhas Chandra Bose, which favoured an intercommunal accord in that province; later a separate party
fresh - new (fresh passport, fresh copy of newspaper)
ft - Foot or Feet
gaddi – seat, throne
gai-ka-gosht - (hind.) beef
gajar - carrot
galloper - Officer used by commanders to carry messages.
gamcha – towel used by Brahmins
Gandharva - a supernatural being
Gandhiji - A title of respect for Gandhi, the ji a common suffix of respect corresponding to sir or mister. Sometimes the suffix was used after Mahatma-Mahatmaji.
Ganesh - God of wisdom and prosperity; elephant headed son of Shiva and Parvati
Ganga / Gunga - River Ganges
Ganga Jhol - the water of the Ganges
gani – saintly Muslim
ganja - marijuana
garden - plantation (tea-garden)
garden house - house on the river for summer and weekends
gari / gharry - car, carriage
garials - long-nosed crocodiles
gariwan – driver also ghariwala
GBE - Knight of the Grand Cross of the British Empire
ghat / ghaut - slope or flight of steps down to a river - landing steps on a riverbank, also mountain pass
gherao – to surround, to besiege as a form of protest
ghee / ghi / ghii – Clarified butter; it is boiled and the watery particles and the curds are skimmed off. Used as cooking oil (Hindi ghi, from Sanskrit ghrta)
ghole - (beng.) yogurt drink
ghora - horse
GHQ - General Headquarters
ghuiyan - (hind.) taro/arum root
ghur / ghar - house
ghuzul - bath
ghuzulkhana - bathroom
Gita - Song. See Bbagavad Gita.
glasshouse – (mil.sl.) military prison (from the glass roof at Aldershot miltary prison)
GM - George Medal
GMT - Greenwich Mean Time
gnana - wisdom, perception
go korbani – cow sacrifice
goalas – caste of milkmen
gobi - (hind.) cauliflower
godown - storage shed ware house
god wallah – (mil. sl.) Priest or chaplin
goglet - cattle-driver
gomasta – landlord’s steward
gompa - Buddhist monastery
gola - grainstore
goolie – (mil.sl.) Testicle, late 19th century (Hindi gooli, a pellet)
goondas – Rowdies, gangsters, hired thugs, "antisocial", "sea-urchin" are other Calcutta equivalents
Goosle Camera - Bathroom
Goristan – expression coined by the press and meaning a "Pakistan born in blood".
Gorah – Ghari - horse drawn carriage
gorur mangsho - (beng.) beef
gosht - (hind.) meat
gothi - from Western Bengal, from a Calutta Bengali family, opposite of Bangal
GPO - General Post Office
graft - Work
Grant - See Lee-Grant.
Granth Sahib - The Sikh holy book which is also the last Sikh Guru
gram - pulse for horse feed
grass widow - A married woman at a British hill-station temporarily separated from her husband who was on assignment elsewhere.
Greater Bengal – ethnic Bengali irredentist project favouring a Greater Bengal by unifying Assam and Bengal above communal frontiers (see Bengsam and East Pakistan).
Great Game, The - British idea that Russia was secretly trying to invade India by way of Afghanistan. It created a cold-war mentality.
Greetings - "Hello" is widespread as well as "Salaam". You can also say "namaste" or "namaskar" in Hindi, or "nomoshkar" in Bangia, "as-salam alekum" in Urdu. When leaving, use "Bye-bye", "Salaam", "huda hafez" in Urdu, "namaste" in Hindustani, "ashi" or "ashbo" (I am coming back) in Bangla.
grihastha - householder
grippe - Influenza (from French, seizure)
GSO - General Staff Officer, a staff officer who dealt with General (G) Staff matters (operations, intelligence, planning, and staff duties), as opposed to personnel (A, short for Adjutant General's Staff), or logistic matters (Q, short for Quartermaster General's Staff). The grades were GSO 1 (Lieutenant Colonel), GSO 2 (Major), and GSO 3 (Captain).
Gully - lane
Gujarati - Language spoken in the province of Gujarat, India, where Gandhi was born.
gur - date-palm sugar
Gurram Chai ! - Hot Tea !
Gurdwara – Sikh place of worship
gurjali - (beng.) Indian salmon
Gurkha - Mercenary soldier in the British army, from Nepal.
guru - teacher (lit. Sanskrit: "goe": darkness, "roe": to dispel), leader, holy man
Gurudwara - Sikh temple
gurrum / gorom - hot
habous (musl.) – see. waqf.
hackney / hackney carriage – small horsedrawn carriage used as taxi, fiacre
haj - pilgrimage to Mecca
Hajii - one who has made pilgrimage to Mecca
hakim - doctor or judge
Hal Camera - Hall Sitting - room
ham – (mil.sl.) I
hanbalism (musl.) – school of Islamic legal thought, relatively minor in India and close to Wahabism .
handi - utensil
important school of Islamic legal thought in
Hanuman - Hindu monkey god; friend and helper of Rama in the Ramayana.
hansh - (beng.) duck
hara matar - (hind.) green peas
haramzada - scoundrel haramzadas - Bastards, scoundrels, a common term in India (of Arabic/ Persian origin)
Harijan - (lit. "child of God") Gandhi's term for an Untouchable (somebody from the Scheduled Caste), now usually called Dalits
hartal / hartaal - general strike, cessation of work; a form of ideally non-violent demonstration in which all work ceases, shops are closed, etc.
hat – village market
hath – hand
hath gari - hand-pulled goods cart. Pullers are called Hath Gari Walla
hathi - elephant
haveli – Large north Indian family Mansion, also temple for those of the Vaishnava faith.
havelock - Cloth cap cover that hung on the back to protect the neck from sunlight (named after Sir Henry Havelock)
havildar, havildar major - See ranks. havildar - Indian infantry sergeant, color sergeant
hazar - "Get ready."
hazrat (musl.) – term for the great prophets of monotheism.
hazri - breakfast
Hazur / Huzoor - Your Excellency huzoor - Lord (Pushtu)
HE - High explosive.
Heaven Born – nickname for members of the ICS (Indian civil service) regarded as the pinnacle of British-Indian society.
heliograph - Communication device using mirrors to flash sunlight.
henna - herbal or chemical, used for dying hair (black or red) and for producing intricate patterns on the palm of the hand and feet of a bride
HERBERT, Sir John - Governor of Bengal, 1939-43.
hijra – eunuch/transexual/transvestite
hilsa machchi (hind.) / illish mach (beng) - hilsa fish, river fish, part saltwater. Eaten smoked. A Calcutta Specialty
Hindi - The language of northern India, with Sanskrit roots.
Hindi Belt, Hindustan - Northern, Central and Western India by opposition to the former Madras and Bombay Presidencies.
Hindu Mahasabha – Hinduist political group on the right of Congress which was very powerful between 1926 and 1937. Later the political party of orthodox Hindus.
Hindutva - "Hindu-ness"; a term used by Indian political parties and politico - religious groups (such as the RSS, VHP, Sangh Parivar etc) to describe their notion of India as a Hindu State. The concept has been misused by some politicians to provoke communal violence, and is seen by many to violate the spirit of India's firmly secular constitution.
Hindusthan – name for the
Hindustani - A language based on Hindi but containing many Arabic and Persian words.
hitherao - come here!
HM - His Majesty's
HMG - His Majesty's Government
HMIS - His Majesty's Indian Ship
HMS - His Majesty's Ship
HMSO - His Majesty's Stationery Office
Holi - Hindu festival of colours, takes place at the beginning of the spring; people cover each other with coloured powder or water - dangerous time to be on the road!
hostel – communal student residence
hot or cold - Ways of attacking. By shooting (hot) or by bayonet (cold);
hooka / hookah - pipe for smoking through water/ alt: hubble-bibble
hookum - order / command
hoondi - bill of exchange
housewife – (mil.sl.) small bag for needle thread etc.
howdahs - large chairs carried on the back of elephants for ceremonial use big gam shooting or transport
Howitzer 3.7in - A mountain gun, designed for operating in country impassable for wheeled vehicles, primarily the North-West Frontier of India. Dismantled into nine parts, breech, chase, cradle, split trail, carriage and two hard-rimmed wheels, it could be carried by eight mules. It could also be modified to be towed by a Jeep, by fitting pneumatic tyres and a smaller shield. The shell weighed 20 Ib, and the gun had a maximum range of 7,000 yards. (A 25pdr's maximum range was 12,500 yards with a 25lb shell.)
hp - Horse Power
HP - Home Political (Internal) Department
HQ - Headquarters
HRH - His Royal Highness
hubble-bubble - hookah, water pipe
hubshi - Negro, woolly-head, (Hindustani, from Arabic habashi, Persian habshi), orig..Ethiopian/negro
hulwaies - confectioners
humara - my, mine
HUQ, Fazlul - KPP President in 1936; joined Muslim League 1937; Prime Minister of Bengal 1937-43.
Hurribomber - There were two fighter-bomber versions of the Hurricane Mk II, both with a l,000lb bomb load; the Mk II C had four 20mm cannon, and the tank-buster Mk II D had two 40mm cannon.
Hurricane Mk II - A British single-engine monoplane, of Battle of Britain fame. Originally equipped with eight .303 in machine-guns. Below 10,000 feet it was less manoeuvrable than the Japanese Zero, but above 20,000 feet proved superior. Also developed as a highly successful fighter bomber (see Hurribomber).
hushiar - clever, intelligent
IAF - Indian Air Force
IAR - Indian Annual Register
IB – Intelligence Branch
ICI - Imperial Chemical Industries
ICS - Indian Civil Service
idderao / idhar ao - Come here
idli - South Indian steamed rice dumpling
Id-ul-Fitr - Muslim festival at the end of Ramadan
ijaradar - leaseholder
IJMA – Indian Jute Mills’ Association
ilish – (beng.) hilsa fish
indaba - (mil.sl.) affair, concern (Swahili, cuncil)
Independent Muslim Party (musl.) – political party created by Suhrawardy in 1926 after the breakdown of the Bengal Pact.
imli - (hind.) tamarind
INA - Indian National Army, formed from Indian soldiers who were persuaded to fight for the Japanese.
INC - Indian National Congress
Indra - God of rain, thunder, lightning, war; chief of all gods.
IPP – Independent Proja Party
isker – (mil.sl.) things (from Arabic)
Islamistan (musl.) – synonym for Pakistan used by those who are unconfortable with the seperatist connotations of that term.
ISPAHANI, M. A. H. - prominent Bengal Muslim Leaguer and on its Working Committee 1936-47. Member of the famous business family.
iswasti - for this reason
itarta – lit. otherness; pop. baseness, meanness
izzut / izzat - honour
jabana – foreigner (pejorative)
jadoo - magic/sorcery/black art
Jagannath - Lord of the Universe, a form of Krishna
jaggery - date-palm sugar
jaghirdar - landowner
Jai … ! – Victory to … !
slogan of the Indian National Army, meaning "Hail
jalachal – intermediary caste from whom Brahmins may accept water without being poluted
jalebi / jalaibees - deep fried very sticky sweets, made of sugar, flour and syrup served in orange sticky loops
jaldi / juldi / juldee - “quickly”
jaldi karo - “do it quickly”
jaljeera / jholjeera / jeerapani - cumin juice
jamabandi - annual check of revenue accounts in every village in every district
Jamat (musl.) – term for an Islamist party
Jamat-e-Islami (JI) (musl.) – Islamist party opposed to the Muslim League. Formed in 1941 by Abul Ala Maududi (1903-1979), an old collaborator of Iqbal. It had a that date nothing to do with the JUI and the JUH.
Jamat-ul-Ulama-e-Hind (JUH) (musl.) – Islamist party founded in 1919 to support the Congress and which grouped together the religious modernists and the mass Islamicisation movements like the tabligh.
Jamat-ul-Ulama-e-Islam (JUI) (musl.) – faction of the JUH which broke with Congress in 1945 to joinc the Muslim League.
jampannie - rickshaw puller or sedan chair carrier
Janaki - another name for Sita, the heroine of the Ramayana
jantana - A particularly thick scrub resembling raspberry canes. It is impossible to advance through without cutting, and offers good concealment to the defender. The Japanese made skilful use of it
janwer / janwar - animal
jao - “Go”! (rude!), Go away
jaroo - broom
jati – caste, race
Jatiya Sarkar – National Government (of Tamluk uprising)
jatra - traditional Bengali folk theatre
jauhar – courting death by Hindu wives to prevent themselves from falling into enemy hands
javana – prejorativ term used by orthodox Hindus to describe foreigners outside the caste system.
jawan - soldier
jeera / jira - cumin
jehad - Holy-War, muslim revolt
Jehanum - hell
jemadar - Indian junior officer (subaltern, 2nd lieutenant)
jemadar-sais - head groom
jharan - duster / dish cloth
jhawan – policeman or soldier
jheel/ jhil - swamp or lake
jhinga - (hind.) prawns/shrimp
jhingey - (beng.) ridged gourd
jhool - horse blanket
JI (Jamat-e-Islami) (musl.) – Islamist party opposed to the Muslim League. Formed in 1941 by Abul Ala Maududi (1903-1979), an old collaborator of Iqbal. It had a that date nothing to do with the JUI and the JUH.
-ji - honorific suffix
jildi – (mil.sl.) quickly
Ji-huzur - Yes, Master
jimadar - Guard
JINNAH, Muhammad Ali, reorganized Muslim League after 1934, President of League after that date; under his leadership the Muslim League won the independent state of Pakistan in 1947.
John Company - Honorable East India Company, founded in 1599 and which governed India from 1833-1858
jote – land, lot
jotedar – farm/land owner,
intermediate tenure holders charged with supervising a part of the estate of a
zamindar, often also engaged in
money-lending or grain trading. In
jubba – long outer court worn by Muslims
juldi - Hurry up
juldi jao go - quickly
julaha – weaver
JUH (Jamat-ul-Ulama-e-Hind) (musl.) – Islamist party founded in 1919 to support the Congress and which grouped together the religious modernists and the mass Islamicisation movements like the tabligh.
JUI (Jamat-ul-Ulama-e-Islam) (musl.) – faction of the JUH which broke with Congress in 1945 to joinc the Muslim League.
jute press – ironic name for the popular pres in regional languages
kabab / kebab - skewered meat
kabarri - second-hand furniture shop
kabuli chhola - (beng.) chick peas
kabuli chana - (hind.) chick peas
kacha kela - (hind.) green banana/plantain
kachori - (hind.) fried wheat pastry with seasoned filling
kaddoo - pumpkin
kaddu - (hind.) red pumpkin
kaestho / kayasthas / kaiast - the caste of writers, clerks, philosophers. Some common surnames of Bengali kayasthas are: Ghosh, Baso/Bose, Datta/Dutta, Dey, Sinha, Nandi, Mttra/Mitter, Das, Sen, Chandra, Guha, Deb, Kar.
kafile - caravan
kahi - long slim copper trumpet like instrument (looks like wood)
Kailash / Kailas - sacred Himalayan mountain, home of God Shiva
Kaiser-I-Hind - Empror of India, Indian tilte for the British monarch
i hind (musl.) –
44th highest of the 82 titles of nobility of the
kakkra - (hind.) crab
kala - black
Kalabause - Bengali river or pond fish
kala juggah - dark corner, “sitting-out” alcove
kala pani - black water (to leave India)
kalai/biuli dal - (beng.) black gram
and deadly disease typical of
Kali - Goddess, "the Black", recognisable by her black skin, necklace of skulls and often the snakes which surround her. Most popular in Calcutta and Bengal
kalima (musl.) – one of the five pillars of Islam which consists of publicly stating that there is only one God and Mohamed is his prophet.
kali-pani - Ocean (Hindi black water)
Kalyug / Kali Yuga - age of speed (according to Indian myth the age we currently live in); the era (Yuga) when righteousness and virtue disappear; fear, distress, anger, hunger prevail and the rulers care only about their power and riches.
kam - work
kamala lebu - (beng.) orange
kameez - long kneelength shirt
kamra - room
kanats - canvas enclosures
kanch kala - (beng.) green banana/plantain
kancha aam - (beng.) unripe/green mango
kancha kanthal - (hind.) green jackfruit
kankra - (beng.) crab
kanthal - (beng.) jackfruit
Kanyakumari - "Virgin Maiden", another name for Durga; town at the south tip of India
karela - (hind.) bitter gourd/melon
karja – produce loan
karo - do
katari – sharp weapon, a think sickle –shaped knife
kathal - (hind.) jackfruit
karma - cause and effect principle of totting up good and bad deeds affecting your next incarnation. The Hindu or Buddhist equivalent of Judgement day
kashmohal - Government estate.
kauri - shell currency
Kaur – (lit.: ‘princess’) Sikh female surname
Kayastha – Writer caste
kazi - Muslim law officer
(Knight Commander of the Star of
keema - ince/ground meat
kela - (hind.) banana
kele-ka-phool - (hind.) banana blossom/spadex
kele-ki-tana - (hind.) white pith of banana plant stem
ke- marfik - in this manner
kench / khainch - “pull” !
kepi - A military cap with a visor and a round flat top sloping toward the front (French képi, from German dialect (Switzerland) käppi cap)
kerani - a writer
keri / kacha aam - (hind.) unripe/green mango
kg - Kilogram, (about 21/4 lbs)
(Knight Grand Commander of the Star of
Khabadar! / khabbardar! / kubberdar! - take care/ look out! Be careful!
khaddar / khadi - Hand-spun or homespun cloth popularised by Gandhi.
khajur - date (fruit)
khamaur – threshing floor
Khana Camera - Dining Room
Khansama - Cook
khak - Persian for dust or dirt, root word for khaki.
khaksar (musl.) – Muslim militia founded by Allama Mashriqi (1888-1983) and not directly dependent on the Msulim League. One of its members tried to assassinate Jinnah.
khal – creek or channel connecting rivers
Khalifat - A Pan-Islamic movement in India in response to the deposal of the Sultan of Turkey (who was Caliph of Islam) as a result of Turkey's defeat in World War 1.
Khalsa - Literally "the Pure"; the Sikh Army of the faithful
khan (musl.) – communal title of Mughal origin, preserved by the British to describe the Muslim high nobility; not to be confused with the surname Khan. The title khan is place before the family name.
Khan - A common suffix to the names of Moslems of all ranks.
KHAN, Liaqat Ali - Muslim League General Secretary 1937-47.
khana - food/ meal
kharif – autumn harvest (rabi is spring harvest)
khas – personal
khas – home farm
khas khamar – personal demesne
khas mahal – government estates
khashi - fattened castrated goat
khatian – record-of-rights
kheer - (hind.) rice pudding
khansama/ consumah – Butler, House-steward / chief table servant
kheera - (hind.) cucumber
kheyl - clan or tribe
khitmagar/ kitmutgar - table servant, waiter
khitab - book (or title)
khiwasti ? - how ?
khoa/kheer - (beng.) thickened milk
kho(d)ja (musl.) – (see. Khwaja)
kholan – storehouse
kholian – farm yard
khond(a)kar (musl.) – (see ashraf) small ashraf from the provinces, or modest teacher
khoota / kutta - dog
khosha - (beng.) peels, scrapings
khoti - house
khoya - (hind.) thickened milk
Khrishna - Hindu God
khubber - news
khubber kharkuz - newspaper
khubbi - ever
khubbi nahin - never
khud - steep hillside or cliff, precipitous slope
khushi - nice, pleasant (hence sl.“cushy”)
khutba – prayer or discourse pronounced in Mosque during Friday prayer
khwaja (musl.) – title given to Ismaili Shiites
kichree - kedgeree
kila - Castle
kilta - conical basket of the North, carried with shoulder straps on the back, used for transporting cow fodder, apples, grass, fire wood, manure etc kilta - basket container
kip -Bed (Danish kippe - cheap tavern)
kirtan - religious song
kisan - peasant
Kisan Samity – Peasant Association (local)
Kisan Sabha – Peasant Association (provincial & national)
kishmish - (beng.) raisin
kitna? - "how many, how much?”
klifty – (mil.sl.) steal
Commander of the Star of
Grand Commander of the Star of
kobiraj - coverage. Egg covering a cutlet
kochu - (beng.) taro/arum root
kochuri - (beng.) fried wheat pastry with seasoned filling
kofta curry - Lamb Curry
koi - climbing perch
Koi hai ? - anybody around! universal expression used by the British when calling for servants to take orders for drinks at the club or a hotel Also “old India hand”
koil / koel - Indian cuckoo
koil / kooyal - singing bird
kola - (beng.) banana
kool - (beng.) Indian plum
kooli-majur - labourers
Koran - the holy book of Islam
kos - a distance of about two miles
kot daffadar - Indian cavalry color sergeant
korbani – sacrifice (of cows on Bakr-Id)
korfa – under-tennant
korola, ucchey - (beng.) bitter gourd/melon
KPP - Krishak Praja Party
krait - A small but very venomous nocturnal snake (Hindi karait)
kripalani, J. B. - General Secretary of Congress 1934-46 and President in 1946.
krishak - peasant
Krishak Praja Party (KPP) – political party of the jotedars led by Fazlul Haq.
Krishak Samity – Peasant Association (local)
Krishak Sabha – Peasant Association (provincial & national)
Krishna - 8th incarnation of Vishnu, often blue, Arjuna's teacher in the Bhagavad Gita
Kshattriya / kshatriya - warrior caste. There are few kshatriyas in Bengal.
kukri - Gurkha knife
kul – (hind.) tomorrow or ! yesterday
kuli – yard
kullah - Afghanistan pointed cap
kumro - (beng.) red pumpkin
kurta – loose shirt worn by Indian males.
kutcha / kaccha - of poor quality/ second class
kutcherry - court-house, lower court
lakh – one hndred thousand; in India usually written 1,00,000.
Lakh-pati – rich person
Lakshmana, Laxman - brother of Rama; human incarnation of the Grat Serpent Adisesha, in whose coils the God Vishnu rested
Lakshmi, Laxmi - Goddess of beauty and wealth/fortune, consort of God Vishnu
lal - red
Lala - title of respect for a Hindu
lama - senior Buddhist monk lama - a Tibetan word for a religious superior
lance daffadar - Indian cavalry corporal
lance naik - See ranks.
languages - Three languages are spoken in Calcutta - Bangla, English, and Hindustani. Both Bangla and Hindustani are Sanskritic languages. Bangla has declensions but no genders. Hindustani, the language of everyday life in Northern and Central India, from where artificially formed Hindi originated, has genders, but no declensions.
langur - a long haired monkey
lao - bring (imperative)
larai - war or battle
lascar – Indian mariner, usually Muslim in Bengal
lassi - (hind.) yogurt drink
lathi - 5’ bamboo stick, metal tipped used by the police
lathial – fighter with sticks, zamindari servent who wields a stick
lau - (beng.) white/bottle gourd
lauki - (hind.) white/bottle gourd
lb - Pound (weight)
LCA - Landing Craft Assault, maximum load an infantry platoon, designed to be carried at a ship's lifeboat davits, and to land infantry in a beach assault. It was armoured to give its passengers some protection against small arms fire and shrapnel, but not air-burst.
lebu - (beng.) lemon
Lee-Grant - American-built M3 tank named after two American Civil War generals, the Confederate General Lee and the Union General Grant, and sometimes called Lee in the USA and Grant in the British army. Had a 37mm gun in the turret, and a 75 mm (main armament) gun in a sponson in the hull. This unusual arrangement meant that to engage a target using the main armament the tank had to expose its hull, and as the sponson gun had a very limited traverse the whole tank had to be swivelled to engage targets outside this arc.
Legion Etrangèr - French Foreign Legion
Liberator Mk II - American B-24 four-engined heavy bomber, with a crew of eight.
liberty-men -Sailors on shore leave.
Lightning P.38 - American twin-engine fighter, with a crew of one, and four .50 in and one 20mm cannon. A very effective low-level attack aircraft.
lingam - phallic emblem of the God Shiva
LINLITHGOW, Second Marquis of. - Viceroy and Governor-General of India, 1936-43.
LISTOWEL, 5th Earl of, - Secretary of State for India April-August 1947.
load-shedding - power cut
Lok Sabha - lower house of the Indian Parliament
lon - red powder
loot -Plunder (Hindi lut [c.1788])
lotah - brass pot
lotdar – holder of a lot or a prtion of land with rights of intermediate tenure.
LRC – Land Revenue Commission
Lt - Lieutenant
Lt Col - Lieutenant Colonel
luchi - puffed fried fllour bread
lungi - loosely wrapped loincloth, worn by men especially South Indians and Muslim Bengalis
lunkah - cheroot
LZ - Landing Zone, originally an area chosen for glider landings.
maachh - (beng.) fish
maachher dim - (beng.) roe
machan - a bamboo platform for shooting from in a Game Reserve
machchi - (hind.) fish
machchi-ka-anda - (hind.) roe
Madras Army - The oldest of the four British Indian armies.
Madrasi - from the South ie.e the former Madras Presidency: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh)
madrassa / madrassah (musl.) – Islamic secondary teaching establishment or Islamic university
madrissah - school / college
madhyabitto sreni – middle class
Ma Ganga - Mother Ganges
magur, shinghi, tangra - (beng.) cat fish
magur, singhi, tangra - (hind.) cat fish
Mahabharata - ancient Vedic/Sanskrit poem describing the battle between the Pandavas and Kauravas. The Bhagavad Gita is part of the Mahabharata. About 10,000 verses the world's longest work of literature; composed around the 1st millennium BC. Often used as synonym for long running complicated situation.
mahajan - moneylender
mahakuma - subdivision
mahalla - locality
Mahant - head of a religious institution or sect
maharaj - honorific form of address
Maharaja - (lit. "Great ruler"), semi-independent princely ruler of an Indian state, sometimes a very large landowner.
Mahasabha – (see Hindu Mahasabha.)
Mahatma - Great soul (maha, great; atma, soul)
Mahadev – The Great God; a names for Shiva
Mahavishnu - Supreme God; devides himself into the trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva)
Literary Society (musl.) – first Muslim association in
mahout - Indian elephant driver (Hindi mahawat, mahaut)
mahseer - a game fish
maida - (hind.) wheat flour
maidan - flat piece of ground; grassy area in a town, parade ground, in Calcutta the main 8 sq. mile central park where many political rallies take place.
Majlis Party (musl.) – political party re-grouping the traders of the Muslim Chamber of Commerce at the beginning of the 1930s.
majlis ul ulama (musl.) – political assembly of the ulemas.
majoon - Green sweetmeat containing bhang (hashish)
malaria -A disease transmitted by mosquitoes that causes periodic severe attacks of chills and fever, thought at one time to be caused by miasma (Italian , from mala aria, bad air)
malecha / mlechcha – disparaging term used by orthodox Hindus to describe foreigners and non-arians.
mali, malli - gardener
malik - tribal headman
mallum – (mil.sl.) understand
managing agency – Company managing investors and absentee owners industrial and other Indian business interests.
mandal – a committee of elders in a vllage
mandala - circle, symbolises the universe in Hinduism and Buddhism
Mandir - Hindu or Jain temple
mandis – wholesale markets
mangsho - (beng.) meat
Manmatha - god of love
Mantra - Magic name of God; an incantation or formula of prayer sacred to any deity.
mantra - a sacred formula or verse; sacred chant used in meditation
Mansion Building – Apartment block
Manu - first man on Earth / Hindu lawgiver, author of a 2000 year old ritual guide aimed at Brahmins (see Manusmriti)
Manusmriti - Laws of Manu, a Hindu law-giver; an ancient religious code upholding the caste system and containing accounts of creation.
Marathi - language of Maharashtra
mark - (hindi) silver mask of god idol
maro / marrow - a deliberate hit
Marwaris – people from Marwar (or Rajasthan in general) now living in Calcutta. Often in business.
martial classes, the - Those natives the British considered to be good warriors: Sikhs, Pathans, Gurkhas, etc.
masala - mix (usually spices) massala - spice mixture
mashaiq (musl.) – (see shaiqul islam).
massalchi - dish-washer
masjid - mosque
masoor dal - (hind.) red lentil
mata - mother
matar dal - dried peas
matarshuti - (beng.) green peas
matbar – village leader
Math - monastic institution
matlow -Self-adopted name of British sailors (blue- jackets)(from French matelot, sailor)
matranee / mehtranee - wife of a sweeper
maulvie / maulavi / moulavi - learned muslim man, priest
maulana /maulvi (musl.) – friendly title for a "sage", a "master"; an honorific term or simply meaning "mister".
maund - a weight (80 lbs)
maya - illusion
mazdoor - worker
MBE - Member of the Order of the British Empire
MC - Military Cross. Instituted in 1914, it was awarded to army officers of the rank of major and below, and warrant officers, for gallantry in action. Now all ranks are eligible.
mehrbani – please
mela - fair (e.g. Book Mela) or large religious festival (e.g. Ganga Sagar Mela)
mem - senior (English) lady
memsahib - Sahib’s lady, European woman in India (Hindi, from English ma'am + Hindi sahib sahib)
mera – (ml.sl.) my, mine
MG - Machine gun
MGB - Motor Gun Boat
Mian - Muslim title of respect
miasma -A heavy vapor emanation or atmosphere believed to cause malaria or other diseases common in swampy areas (Greek, defilement, from miainein to pollute )
millat (musl.) – Islamist term describing the Muslim religion
milli (musl.) – Islamist term the people of Muslim religion
Minar - minaret
Mirgil - Bengali river or pond fish
mistri - carpenter / mason
Mitchell - An American B-25 twin-engined medium bomber, with a crew of five. Good at attacking ground targets in support of ground troops.
Mjr - Major
ML - Motor Launch
ML – Muslim League
MLA - Member of Legislative Assembly
MLC - Member of Legislative Council
MLPB - Muslim League Parliamentary Board
MLWC - Muslim League Working Committee
mlechha - untouchable
MM - Military Medal. Instituted in 1916, it was awarded to army NCOs and soldiers for gallantry in action. Now discontinued; see MC.
MN - Merchant Navy
mocha - (beng.) banana blossom/spadex
MOD - Ministry of Defence
mofussil - rural districts away from Calcutta; the opposite to 'headquarters'. When in Calcutta, the rest of Bengal is 'mofussil'; when in division headquarters the rest of the district is 'mofussil'; meaning by extension, a very provincial and conservative social milieu
Mogh - Buddhist from Chittagong. Moghs are the best cooks in Calcutta
mohalla - neighborhood
Mohammedans / Muhammadans (musl.) – Muslim football team of Calcutta.
Mohawk - An American single-engine fighter, an earlier version of the Tomahawk, with six .303in guns. It was obsolete by 1941, but retained by the RAF for use in India and Burma.
mohazir (musl.) – Indian Muslim immigrant to East-Pakistan (Bihari).
moida - (beng.) wheat flour
Moksha - Freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth; salvation.
momo - Tibetan pasta wrapped around vegetable or meat, vaguely similar to big Ravioli without the sauce
monal - pheasant
monsoon - rainy season
moolo - (beng.) daikon/horse radish
mooli - (hind.) daikon/horse radish
moong dal - (hind.) moong beans or green gram
moori - puffed rice
more - silver mask of god idol, (Kulvi language lit. - "face")
mormuth - duster for god idol (made of peacock feathers)
Mosquito Mk IV - Twin-engine light bomber, or high-level reconnaissance aircraft, with a crew of two. Almost as fast as a Spitfire, and much faster than any other aircraft. Allied or enemy.
motamid - lawyer’s clerk
MOUNTBATTEN of Burma, First Earl, Chief of Combined Operations 1942-3; Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia 1943-6; Viceroy of India March-August 1947.
moiza – area covered by a landlords jurisdiction.
MP - Member of Parliament
MTB - Motor Torpedo Boat, a small, fast vessel mainly armed with torpedoes.
muchli - fish in general
muezzin - somebody who calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret of the mosque
mufti (musl.) – high legal dignitary and specialist in sharia, able to proclaim a fatwa.
Mughlai – Moghul, North Indian, esp. Delhi, cooking, fashion, etc.
Islamic religious brotherhood in
mujahid (musl.) – fighter for an Islamist Indo-Muslim state
mukarari – permenent holding on a fixed rent
Mukhtear - Criminal court lawyer.
mullah (musl.) – Moslem religious teacher (Shiite) (Arabic mawla)
mung phali - (hind.) peanut
munger dal - (beng.) moong beans or green gram
munhi - prayer
munshi - clerk/ language teacher
munsiff - low grade Native judge having jurisdiction over a subdivision.
… murdabad ! – Death to … !
murgh - (hind.) chicken
murgi - (beng.) chicken
murmura - (beng.) puffed rice
murrain - A plague that infects domestic animals (from Latin mori, to die)
murthi - image, statue, images of the Lord
mussuck / masak - goatskin water-bag
musurir dal - (beng.) red lentil
Muslim - Belonging to Islam; frequent Indian spelling of Moslem.
Chamber of Commerce (musl.) – association of Muslim Business men of
Muslim Conference (musl.) – organ running in parallel to the Muslim League and which controlled the Star of India newspaper until 1935.
Muslim League – Political party led by M.A. Jinnah, championing the interests of Indian Muslims.
Literary Society (musl.) – intellectual association at the
Muslim National Guard (musl.) – militia loyal to the Muslim League (see khaksar)
Muslim Sporting Club (musl.) – sports federation to which belonged the Mohammedans football team
Muslimstan (musl.) – synonym for Pakistan for those whoare uncomfortable with the seperatist connotations of that term (see Islamistan).
Mussulman - A Moslem or Muslim (Turkish müslüman, Persian musulman, modification of Arabic muslim)
musth - madness, distemper of elephants
mut - drunk
mut - don’t
MV - Motor Vessel
mynah - Indian starling which can mimic
NAAFI - Navy, Army and Air Force Institute
naan - Indian flat bread cooked in a Tandoor
nadi - river
nag - snake
nahin – (hind.) no
naib – deputy, landlord’s accountant
naik - Indian corporal
nagdi – cash rent
nallah / nullah - stream or river valley, gorge (North India), creek, canal (Bengal)
namaste – greeting (Hindi)
namoshkar - greeting (Bengali)
Nandi - figure of a sacred bull, God Shiva's vehicle, symbol of fertility
NAP - National Agriculturist Party
napit – hairdresser, barber
nappy wallah – (mil.sl.) barber
nariyal - (hind.) coconut
narkel - (beng.) coconut
Narshinga - curvy trumpet like instrument
nasha - intoxication, drunk, stoned.
nashta – breakfast.
nat - juggler
naukar - servant
nauker-log - servants (pr.”logue”)
nautch - A type of Indian dance display performed by women, also used for a European ball or formal dance
nawab (musl.) – Mughal Title given to a provincial governor. The title was conserved by the British to recompense the rich notables or high functionaries in the provinces
nazar – a ceremonial present by an inferior to a superior
nazar-salami – landlord’s transfer fee
NAZIMUDDIN, Khwaja - Prime Minister of Bengal 1942—5.
NBPS – Nikhil Banga Praja Samity
NCO - Non-commissioned officer; from lance-corporal to colour or staff sergeant. See also warrant officer.
NDC - National Defence Council
neel kothi - indigo planter's bungalow
neem pata - (beng.) margosa leaves
neem patti - (hind.) margosa leaves
NEHRU, Jawaharlal, Congress President 1936-7; member CWC 1936-47; played leading role in negotiations tor transfer of power in 1946—7. then Prime Minister of India.
nickle-jao - “get out!”
nimbu - (hind.) lemon
nimbu pani - lime juice
nirkali - long horns/ trumpets used for religious ceremonies in Himachal Pradesh
nirvana - state that is the final aim of Buddhists, release from the cycle of existence
Muslim prince of
nol-kol - kohl-rabi
Non-Cooperation Movement – movement of political resistance against the colonial regime, launched by Gandhi in 1919-1920 and which took of after the Nagpur Congress Session
nukshan / nuksaan - injury, damage, destruction
nulla(h) - ditch canal, Small valley or ravine, dry watercourse
numdah - a felt rug
nuzzer - ceremonial gifts
NWFP - North-West Frontier Province
OBE - Officer of the Order of the British Empire
octroi - Municipal tax
old sweat - Veteran
ole - elephant yam
OHMS - On His Majesty's Service
Om - sacred symbol and syllable in Hinduism and Buddhism
“Om mane padme hum” - an incantation meaning “the jewel is in the lotus flower”
on the cot - Changing one's ways
on the peg - Under arrest
oont - camel
ooplah - dried cow-dung for fuel
OP - Observation post.
oz - Ounce or Ounces
paan / pan - folded betel leaf, stuffed with areca nut, lime and spices; chewed and red juice spit out, responsible for red wall corners, red pavement stains, red or black or no teeth
pabda - (beng.) Indian butter fish
paddy - Rice field (Malay padi )
Padma - lotus, another name for Hindu Goddess Lakshmi
pagal - crazy, fool
pagri - see “puggaree”
pahari - hillman
paik – footman, peon
paikar – local merchant
paisa - word for money in general, also a 100th of a rupee
Pak-stan (musl.) – there are several hypotheses regarding the etymology of this term. The one laid out in the ‘Star of India’ is based o the two words "Pak" and "stan". "Pak" meaing "pure" in Persian, and "stan" meaning "country". The "i" had crept in to the middle of the word solely for ease of pronunciation.
pakora - savoury snack, potatoes and vegetable in batter deep fried
palak - (hind.) spinach
Palan Camera - Bed-room
palang saag - (beng.) spinach
palanquin - litter carried on the shoulders of four men
palki - palanquin
paltan - Battalion, military unit
panch - five
panchayat - village council
panchayat khamar - village threshing ground
pandal - street structure erected to contain the murthi during pujas
pandit / pundit - Brahmin priest; respectful title for a Brahmin, a learned man or teacher, especially in Hindu religion, law, and science. (Hindi pandit, from Sanskrit pandita, from pandita learned)
paneer - Indian cottage cheese
Pangash - Bengali river or pond fish
panka / punkah - a large swinging fan made of a piece of cloth stretched on a rectangular frame, pulled by a cord or leather thong
pankawalla / punkah wallah - Indian employed to work a fan, usually by a string attached to their toe or thumb.
pani - (Hindi /muslim Bengali) Water
pani wallah - Water carrier, Scullion and general bottle-washer, at beck and call of both bearer and cook.
pannier - Donkey load. A large basket or container carried on the back of an animal or on the shoulders of a person (13th century, Latin, panis, bread
pantha - (beng.) mutton (really goatmeat)
papad - (hind.) poppadum
papar - (beng.) poppadum
papita - (hind.) papaya [ripe=fruit, unripe=veg]
para – neighbourhood, para boys; local youths
paratha - (hind.) thick crispy bread grilled in ghee
parshey - (beng.) mullet
Parsi - A Zoroastrian of India descended from Persian refugees.
parval/palwal - (hind.) pointed gourd
Parvati - Goddess, wife of Shiva, another form of Kali
PATEL, Sardar Vailabhai, leading Congressman and member of Interim Government 1946-7. the Home secretary of India.
Pathans - A Mohammedan Afghan people of India's northwest frontier.
patloon - trousers
patnidar – intermediate tenure-holders
pattu - colourful woven blanket (North India, particularly the Kulu Valley), worn by women as a dress
patwari - village acountant who kept an annually revised alll land records in his circle which covered a number of villages
pau ruti - (beng.) loaf bread
pau roti - (hind.) loaf bread
payal - ankle chain
payesh - (beng.) rice pudding
PC - Police Constable
pcc - Pradesh Congress Committee
pechi / peechay - behind, at the back
peepra ka deem - Ants eggs
peepul - Indian fig tree, sacred to Hindus
peg - measure of spirit, usually whisky
peon - orderly messenger, office boy
pepey - (beng.) papaya [ripe=fruit, unripe=veg]
Permanent Settlement - (1793) Land settlement enacted by the British in 1793 under which land was leased out to individual landlords (zamindars) on a permanent basis against fixed rentals.
Per mare, per terram - "By land, by sea", motto of the Royal Marines. AKA "Poor Mary on the terrace"
Pesh-bundi – advance consideration, euphemism for bribe
pesta - (beng.) pistachio
PETHICK-LAWRENCE, First Baron - Secretary of State for India 1945-7; member of Cabinet Mission to India 1946.
peyara - (beng.) guava
phulkopi - (beng.) cauliflower
piaj - (beng.) onion
piaj koli - (beng.) spring onion shoots
pialla - (mil.sl.) enamelled mug
piaz - (hind.) onion
piaz patti - (hind.) spring onion shoots
PIAT - Projector Infantry Anti-Tank. The hand-held anti-tank weapon of the British Second World War infantryman from about mid-1942 on, it consisted of a powerful spring, mounted in a tube which threw a hollow-charge projectile, effective up to 100 yards.
pice, paisa - 1/12th of an anna, gen. Money
pice - A coin worth about a farthing. Four pice made one anna, worth slightly more than a penny (old style). Sixteen annas made one rupee, worth one shilling and sixpence. There was an even smaller coin, the pie, worth one-third of a pice; it resembled, I recall, the current halfpenny (new style).
pie - smallest unit in the old currency
piquet - A small guard post with about 12 men or less.
pipa – earthenware pot
pipal - a kind of fig tree
pir / phir (musl.) – Persian title given to an old Sufi sage or a Muslim religious leader
pista - (hind.) pistachio
pith helmet - Sun helmet made of cloth-covered cork.
Pk - Park
Pl - Place
P. & O. - Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company. The main line for British travelers to India and the East
Pom or Pommie - Derisive Australian soldier's term for British officers or British men in general (from pomade - hair dressing)
pongelow - Beer
poodle-faker - A man who spend too much time in the society of women, engaging in such activates as tea parties, balls, etc.
pop-wallah - Non-drinker
pourasha – manhood, manliness
porota - (beng.) thick crispy bread grilled in ghee
potol - (beng.) pointed gourd
POW - Prisoner of War
pradesh - state
pradhan - head of the village council
praja – subject, tenant
Pranam, Pranama - Lit. obeisance. Traditional Indian greeting, hands held in a prayer-like position in front of one's heart region. Inner meaning is that one's whole body, heart and Soul greets the person one loves and respects. Also refers to traditional greeting by touching the feet of an elder; the inner meaning is both obeisance and willingness to follow in their footsteps.
PRASAD, Rajendra, Congress President 1939 and 1947; President of Constitutent Assembly 1946-50.
PS – Post Station, administrative area with in a district
Presidency – British India was subdived into three Presidencies, Calcutta, Bombay and Madras.
puggaree - turban worn by servants, also cloth band around topee ( Hindi pagri turban)
puja - Lit. worship. Hindu religious rites: hence, a Hindu festival holiday.
pukka / pucca - Genuine, authentic, first-class, Excellent, opposite of cutch or kuctha (Hindi pakka cooked, ripe, solid, from Sanskrit pakva)
pukka sahib - Excellent fellow (used for Europeans only)
pummeloe - large citrus fruit
pundit – Hindu intellectual, usually Brahmin.
punir - cheese
Punjab - Land of the Five Rivers (panch = 5)
punji – poisones stake, bobt-trap
punk - Inferior, as in "played a punk game", "feeling punk" (ill) (1896)
pupta - (hind.) Indian butter fish
Puranas - Sacred Hindu legends.
purdah (musl.) - Literally, "one who sits behind a curtain". The seclusion of Muslim and some Hindu women. (Hindi parda, literally, screen, veil)
purdahnashin - take to the veil
pushpak vimana - a vehicle described in the Indian epics which takes passengers through the air, driven by thought; some compare it to the modern airliner
pyjammas - pair of loose trousers tied round the waist
qaid-e-azam (musl.) – title given to Jinnah, le "great chief", in theory he is charged with executing the laws and regulations voted by the assembly of Indo-Muslim lay persons (Muslim League) and by the assembly of ulemas (majlis ul ulama).
Queen's shilling, the - Bounty paid to a new recruit for joining the army.
rabi - crops sown after the rains / spring harvest
Rabindra-sangeet – songs by Rabindranath Tagore
Radha - Female consort of Krishna.
RAF - Royal Air Force
RAFVR - Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
raj - rule
Raj – colonial rule in
raja – king, ruler, landlord
Raj Bhavan – residence of State Governor in Calcutta for Viceroy’s palace when it was called Government House.
rajdrohi – traitor, enemy of the state
Rajya Sabha – Upper house of Indian parliment in New Delhi.
rajbahar - main irrigation channel
raj-mistri - head carpenter/mason
rajput - Hindu warrior caste
Rajya Sabha - upper house of the Indian Parliament
Ram! – invocation of the Hindu god Rama
Rama - hero of the "Ramayana"; 7th incarnation of Vishnu
ramadan (musl.) – ninth month of the Islamic year when all Muslims should fast during the hours of daylight. The last day of ramadan is Eid ul-fitr.
Ramayana - (lit.: "Rama's way"), big Indian epic, attributed to the poet Valmiki (around the 3rd or 2nd century BC); about Rama, his wife Sita and the battle against the evil Ravana of Lanka
Ramanama - The word used for the constant repetition of the name, Rama, as an act of devotion to the Lord.
Ramgarh – town in
Raj (Rama Rajya) –
Gandhian project to make Hinduism the official religion of an independent
Rarn Raksha - A recitation of sacred texts asking for the protection of Rama.
RAN - Royal Australian Navy
ranga alu - (beng.) sweet potato
Rani / Ranee - wife of a Rajah, Princess
Ranks - Indian Army ranks below second lieutenant were:
Indian Army Typical job British army equivalent
Subedar Major Senior VCO (see VCO) None
Subedar Company 2ic or platoon commander None
Jemedar Platoon commander None
Havildar Major Company Sergeant Major (CSM) CSM
Havildar Platoon Sergeant Sergeant
Naik Section commander Corporal
Lance Naik Section 2ic Lance Corporal
The word sepoy is an eighteenth-century British misspelling of the Persian word sipahl from the Persian word sipah meaning army.
RAP - Regimental Aid Post, the place where the Medical Officer (MO) of a battalion, or equivalent-size unit, set up his aid post. Usually the requirement here was to administer 'sophisticated first aid' to stabilize the casualty sufficiently to enable him to survive the next stage of evacuation; in 'conventional' warfare, this was usually within hours.
rashtrapathi – president, also title of Subhas Chandra Bose before he took on the title Netaji.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – radical Hinduist Militia
rath - (Sanskrit lit. chariot) used to carry a god or goddess; either with wheels, also called a "car" or in hilly area (as in Himachal Pradesh) a kind of palanquin, carried by people by poles on their shoulders
ravas - (hind.) Indian salmon
razzia - Attack on unbelievers
RC - Roman Catholic
RCAF - Royal Canadian Air Force
RCN - Royal Canadian Navy
Rd - Road
RDF - Radio Direction Finding (early term for Radar)
RDP – Radical Democratic Party
RE - Royal Engineers
Regiment - Originally a regiment was of horse, dragoons (mounted infantry) or foot, and raised by command of King, and later Parliament, and named after its colonel, originally a royal appointee. The regiment has become the basic organization of the British army and Indian Army, for armour, artillery, engineers, signals, army air corps, and logistic units equivalent to battalions of those arms in other armies. In the case of the infantry, the British or Indian Army battalion belongs to a regiment, of which there may be one or more battalions.
The Indian Army reorganization of 1922 formed infantry regiments of up to six battalions each. There were several regiments with the same title, depending on the origin of their soldiers, and these were numbered. Hence the 5th/9th Jat Regiment is the 5th Battalion of the 9th Jat Regiment, whose soldiers are Jats, and the l/2nd Goorkha Rifles is the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Goorkha Rifles, whose soldiers are Gurkhas (spelt Goorkha by this regiment).
In 1923 many British cavalry regiments were amalgamated, retaining both their old numbers; hence the 9th/12th Lancers is the combination of the 9th and the 12th Lancers, not the 9th battalion of the 12th Lancers.
reh - salty, barren soil
Resident Europeans – People of pure European ancestry born and brought up in India. Regarded as hgher in status than the Sngli-Indinas, but lower than the British-born Europeans sent to India after finishing teir education.
rezai - a quilt
Rhuee - Bengali river or pond fish
rickshaw – human powered form of transport either as cycle rikshaw or Handpull rickshaw.
RIN - Royal Indian Navy
rishi - a sage
rissaldar - Indian cavalry officer (1st lieutenant / captain)
rissaldar-major - Senior Indian cavalry officer
R.M.L.I. - Royal Marine Light Infantry
RN - Royal Navy
RNAS - Royal Naval Air Service
RNVR - Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve
RNZN - Royal New Zealand Navy
ROC - Royal Observer Corps
Muslims from the north of the Burmese
rohu, mirgel, katla - (hind.) carp, buffalo fish
roko - blockade, in protest against an issue. During Rail-Roko, demonstrators sit on the rails, during Rasta-Roko or Road-Roko, on the pavement
roti - flat round unleavened bread
Round Table Conferences (RTC)– constitutional consultations in London in between 1930 and 1934 bringing together Indian and British representatives
Rs. - Rupees (standard unit of Indian currency (Hindi rupaiya from Sanskrit rupya, coined silver). Three pies equal one pice; four pice equal one anna; sixteen annas equal one rupee.
RSS – Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangha
rui, mrigel, katla - (beng.) carp, buffalo fish
Rupee (Rs.) - standard unit of Indian currency (Hindi rupaiya from Sanskrit rupya, coined silver). Three pies equal one pice; four pice equal one anna; sixteen annas equal one rupee.
ruti - (beng.) unleavened whole wheat flour bread
ryot / raiyat - tenant farmer, peasant also under-ryot – under-tennant
ryotwari – Land revenue system under which assessment are made on individual holdings.
saag - (beng.) leafy vegetables
Sabha – see Hindu Mahasabha.
sadar - headquarters
Sadhu - Hindu ascetic, wandering holy man who denounces worldly goods, travels around India (mostly on foot) and lives by "donations"(Fakir for Muslims)
sadhubhasha – formal or literary form of Bengali
Sahib - Mr. or Master; often used in speaking of or addressing Europeans. (Hindi saheb, from Arabic sahib)
sahebi - anglicised
sais, syce - horse groom
Sakta – tradition of worship of the energy/power symbolised by the mother goddess
Salaam - a salutation – peace
Salaam alaikum - Peace be unto you
salami – landlord’s transfer fee
salwar kameez - loose, baggy trousers worn under a long shirt worn by women mainly of the North, by young girls of the South or as an alternative to the sari
sambhur - large deer
sammelan – Hindu conference reuniting diverse political movements
samiti – committee, association
samosa - triangular fried pastry
samp, sanp - snake
sampraday - community
samya – equality
samyabada – egalitarianism
samyabadi – someone who believes and fights for equality
sanatan - eternal
sanatani - an orthodox Hindu.
sandesh - Bengali sweet
sangar - Temporary shallow fortifications, normally built of loose stone.
san(g)athan – Hindu political organisation
sangeet - songs
sangram - struggle
sanyas – life of renunciation
sanyasi - an ascetic, renunciate, recluse
santra - (hind.) orange
sapper - The equivalent of private in the Royal Engineers; also a name for all engineers.
sarai - travelers hostelry wirth stables, stable, or a caravanserai
sarani - street
Saraswati - Goddess of speech and learning, wife of Brahma
sarbajanin – open to all (castes), universal
sarbadhinayak - captain
sardar - A title meaning leader, head of mill workers, title of VSS Patel.
sarf karo – (mil.sl.) to kill (from to clean up)
sari - Hindu women's dress, single piece cloth, 5m to 9m long and 1m wide wrapped around the waist, a portion covering the bosom and the head.
sarishtidar – clerk who administers oaths, records, depositions etc.
sarkar - head of affairs in business
sarki - arrow
sarso-ki-saag - (hind.) mustard greens
sarva - all
Sati - wife of Shiva; self immolation of a woman on her dead husband's funeral pyre (illegal)
satitva - chastity
Satyagraha - Gandhi’s policy of non-violence; Truth-force or soul-force (sat, truth; agraha, firm- ness); non-violent direct action; passive resistance; civil disobedience; non-violent non-cooperation.
Satyagrahi - One who practices satyagraha.
satsang - lecture or discourse by a swami or guru (lit.: sat: "truth", sang: "company")
SB – Special Branch
SEAC - South East Asia Command. The Supreme Allied Commander SEAC, Admiral Mountbatten, was responsible directly to the British Chiefs of Staff in London, and through them to the Combined British and US Chiefs of Staff for all operations by land, sea, and air in Burma, Malaya, and Sumatra, and for clandestine operations in Siam and French Indo-China.
SD – Sub-Division, administrative area withi a district
seem - (hind.) broad bean
seer - unit of weight (2lbs)
sepoy - See ranks. sepoy - native private soldier
sepoy - Indian infantryman in an European army (Portuguese sipai, from Hindi sipahi, cavalryman)
sewai - vermicelli
serai – lodgigs for travelers
serang - boatswain
setu - bridge
Sgt - Sergeant
shabash! - Bravo, a cry of admiration
shaitan - Satan, devil
shaiqul islam / cheikh al-islam (musl.) – supreme Islamic religious authority, vacant since the beginning of the 1920, when Atatürk abolished the califat of Istanbul. The Islamists want to re-establish it
shakarkhand - (hind.) sweet potato
shako - Stiff, tall military hat (French, from Hungarian csákó)
Shakti - creative energies perceived as female deities
Shaktism - the cult of Shakti
shanti - peace, favourite word by certain tourists to describe peaceful places (when it's not anymore because of them)
shamiana / shamyana - tent, dais, used for outdoor functions
sharia / shariat (musl.) – Islamic system of law.
Shastras - scriptures, religious or sacred doctrine
sheem - (beng.) broad bean
sheikh (musl.) – Muslim honorific title reserved to religious elder, a spiritual guide a sage or a master.
sher - a tiger
Sherman - A US-built tank with the same chassis as the Lee-Grant, but with the main armament 75mm gun on top of the hull in the conventional way. It also carried a co-axial machine-gun in the turret and a machine-gun in a ball mounting in the front glacis (sloping) plate of the hull.
Sheth - Master, a name given to Hindus of importance in Sind and other parts of West India.
shifa ul mulk / shifa al-malik (musl.) – communal title of Mughal origin preserved by the British.
shikar - a hunting expedition, “huntin' and shootin'”.
shikari - a skilled hunter who hires his services
shikshita / shikkhito - educated
Shiva/Siva - God of destruction and recreation, one of the "Trimurti" (three main gods)
shole - murrel fish
shosha - (beng.) cucumber
Sradh - religious ceremony in the memory of a deceased
Shrijut / Sit. - A common title equivalent to esquire; often Shri or Srj., Sri
Shrimati / Smt. - A common title for women.
shroff – moneylender, changer, cashier
shuddhi – ritual purification
shuddhi – mass conversion of untouchables and tribal people to Hinduism. The movement is similar to tabligh which has the objective of converting these groups to Islam.
Shudra - The fourth (and lowest) caste of Hinduism-those who labor.
siddha chaal - (beng.) parboiled rice
Sikh - A member of a religious sect founded about 1500 A.D. in the Punjab.
silladar - Indian cavalryman who provided his own equipment
Silnd - Bengali river or pond fish
simpkin - corruption of "champagne"
Singh - Sikh male surname (lit.: "lion")
sinnit - braided cord
siratul moustaqim (sirat al-moustaqim) (musl.) – Islamic spiritual concept concerned with the best way to accede to paradise.
sirdar - Hereditary noble or other person of high rank (Hindi sardar, from Persian)
sirkar / sircar- the British government in India, the head of domestic government, and any representativer thereof
siris - a common Indian tree
Sita - heroine of the Indian epic "Ramayana"; an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi
sitar - Indian string instrument
Siva / Shiva - A god of the Hindu triad, typifying destruction and reproduction.
skof - Food
slingers - Hard tack and coffee
Smt. – Shrimati, A common title for women.
snotty - Midshipman [Royal Navy]
SOE - Special Operations Executive
solar / sola - topi leight weight hat made from the dired pith of a plant (the sola)
sooji - semolina
sorshey saag - (beng.) mustard greens
sowah, (cu.sawah) - mounted orderly
sowar - Indian cavalryman
SP – Superintendent of Police
Spitfire Mk VIII - The single-engine fighter of Battle of Britain fame. Proved superior to Japanese Zero and Oscar fighters.
spyglass - Telescope
Sq - Square
Sq Ldr - Squadron Leader
Sradh - The traditional propitiatory rites on the eleventh day from the date of death.
Sri - holy, graceful, auspicious, revered
srijukta – honorific title (Hindu)
SS - Steam Ship
St - Saint
St - Street
stag – (mil.sl.) guard, sentry-go
Start Line - A line in the ground, usually a natural feature, stream, bank, or fence, preferably at ninety degrees to the axis of advance, which marks the start line for the attack and is crossed at H-Hour in attack formation. Can be marked by tape if there is no natural feature which lends itself to being used as a start line.
Sten gun - A cheap, mass-produced sub-machine-gun of British design. It fired 9mm ammunition, and had a 32-round magazine. Ineffective except at close quarters; it was inaccurate and the round had poor penetrating power. Because of its propensity to fire by mistake, it was sometimes more dangerous to its owner and those standing around than to the enemy.
stoppages - Money deducted from a soldier's pay ("stopped") as a punishment)
stunt - assistant (Collector)
stupa - Buddhist religious monument
subaltern - A junior officer in the British army.
sub chiz / sub-cheese - everything
administrative subdivision of a district. There were 86 sub-divisions in
subedar - Indian infantry officer (1st lieutenant)
subedar-major - Senior Indian infantry officer
suder / sadar – district headquarter
sudder - chief, main
Sudra - the lowest of the four main Hindu castes
SUHRAWARDY, H. S. - Muslim League minister in Bengal 1937—45, and Chief Minister 1946-7.
sunnyasi - Hindu religious mendicant
Supt - Superintendent
suttee - Widow burning. Hindu widow who chose to be cremated on the funeral pyre of her husband as an indication of her devotion to him (Sanskrit sati wife who performs suttee, literally, devoted woman, from feminine of sat true, good; akin to Old English soth, true)
suwarer mangsho - (beng.) pork
suwar-ka-gosht - (hind.) pork
swaddy - Soldier.
swadeshi - Belonging to, or made in, one's own country (swa, self; deshi, country); applied to movement for boycott of foreign goods which started between 1905 and 1908 in Bengal. This movement was a great influence in Gandhi in 1920.
swami - learned person, Hindu religious teacher; also formerly used as respectful title for husband, (lit.: "Lord of the self", swa: one's true self). Also used as honorific for saints.
Swaraj - Self-government (Swa, self; raj, government); signifies "sovereignty" or dominion up to 1930, and after that all out "independence".
Swarajya Party – group which from inside Congress opposed between 1922 and 1926 the anti-constitutional methods of Gandhi.
Swatis - Afghanistan tribe
syce - Attendant or groom, stable-lad (Hindi sais, from Arabic sa'is)
syed (saïd, sayid) (musl.) – eminent Islamic title for a rich and noble ahsraf.
tabla - type of drums
tabligh – conversion (to Islam)
Tac HQ - Tactical Headquarters, a small group including the CO, or brigade commander forward of the main HQ.
tairo – (mil.sl.) wait, hold on
takbir – the expression ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great)
takkus - tax (probably derived from Indian pronunciation of the English word 'tax')
taleb - pay
talims – wrestling clubs
taluka – administrative sub-division of a district, area covered by a police station, also thanna
talukdar / taluqdar – rent receiving small landowner, owner of a taluk.
tamasha - a show, excitement
tambo - tambourine
Tamil - A language spoken in southern India and Ceylon.
tanda / thanda / tunda / thunda - cold
tandoor - clay oven used for cooking; wood burning oven for heating (and cooking) and occasionally burning the chopped up bodies of victims of dowry killing
tanzim – (Islamic) organisation
tar / taar - telegram, literally "wire"
tarun - youth
tat - country bred pony
tatsama – derived from Sanskrit
tatties - screens kept wet for coolness
taziya / tazia - model of the graves of Hassan and Hussein carried by Shiites at Ashoura/Moharam
TB - Tuberculosis
teapoy / teapoi - small tripod table
tebhaga – third shares, also name of a peasant movement aiming to reduce sharecroppers rents from ½ share of harvest to just 1/3 .
teen - three
tehsi – administrative unit of a district
tehsildar - native tax-collector
Telugu - The largest division of the Dravidian dialects in southern India.
tempo - noisy three wheeler public transport, similar to an auto-rickshaw but bigger
tentul - (beng.) tamarind
terai - wide-brimmed hat, probably an Anglo-Indian colloquialism
Terr. - Terrace
Thakur - one of the higher Hindu castes
thali - tray, steel plate; a plate of simple different dishes (i.e. daal, veg, rice, chapati)
thana - police station and basic urban administrative unit, at the centre of which lies the local police station / jail
thano - pull (imperative)
thela - hand-pulled goods cart. Pullers are called the pawalla
thiik/thiik hai - "good"/ "is good", okay
thor - (beng.) white pith of banana plant stem
thug - Literally, deceiver. Worshippers of Kali who ritually murdered travelers, usually with a cloth scarf (thugee cord). (Hindi thag, thief)
thugee - practice of the thugs
ticca gharri - hired four-wheel carriage
tiercel - male falcon
tiffin - Lunch or snack (obsolete English tiff to eat between meals)
tik hai / thik hai - all right
tik hai? / thik hai? - all right?
tika - Hindu mark on the forehead tikkah - ornamental mark on forehead
tilak - Sandal paste mark placed on the forehead for religious purposes.
tirailleurs - French riflemen, from shooter??
TKS – Tippera Krishak Samity
tola – tax, toll
tola - measurement of weight, 11.6 gram
to fire into the brown - Originally referred to hunters firing into a covey of game birds without aiming at any particular bird, but was later used for soldiers firing into a charging mass of natives.
Tommy - Tommy Atkins. Name for the British common soldier
tonga / tanga - a light two wheeled carriage drawn usually by ponies, holds two passengers behind, space for luggage is in front beside the driver
toor/toovar dal - (hind.) split pigeon peas
top khana - Artillery battery
topee - Helmet (Hindi topi)
topshey - (beng.) mango fish
topsi - (hind.) mango fish
torai - (hind.) ridged gourd
tram - streetcar
transportation – deportation of prisoners
Trimurti - Hindu trinity of God: Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu
tulwar - a large curved sword
tum - thou, you (used to inferiors)
U Boat - German submarine
UK - United Kingdom
ulank – type of small cargo boat
ulema / ulama (musl.) – theologian and member of the clergy who can be a customary judge (cadi), a judicial adviser (mufti) or a politician (member of the majlis ul ulama).
UMP – United Muslim Party
unani (musl.) – Arabo-Islamic system of medicine
Muslim Party (UMP) (musl.) – political party mainly made up of small traders of
untouchables - Castes or communities which, through ancestry, profession, or custom, are looked upon as impure by orthodox Hindus. Also called Scheduled Castes, Depressed Classes, Pariahs, and Harijans.
UP - United Provinces
Upanishads - Hindu religious philosophical discourses.
Upanishads - ancient texts, part of the Vedas, Hindu philosophy dealing with the nature of the universe and soul
UPML - United Provinces Muslim League
urad dal - (hind.) black gram
Urdu - A Persianized Moslem form of Hindustani.
US - United States
USAAF - United States Army Air Force
ushna chawal - (hind.) parboiled rice
USN - United States Navy
USSR - Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
uttr / attar – perfume
vada – fried savoury.
Vaishnava / Vaishnab - A sect of Hindus worshiping Vishnu as the one supreme God.
Vaishya - The third caste in Hinduism-those who trade and farm.
vakil / ukil - lawyer
Valmiki - poet around the 3rd - 2nd century BC, author of the Ramayana
vapors - A Victorian belief that emanations from bodily organs (such as the stomach) could affect the physical and mental condition of people, especially women. Vapors were often blamed for women fainting, although fashions that included binding women's bodies so tight that they could barely breathe would seem to be a more likely cause.
Vamashrama dharma - Religion of caste (varna, color; ashrama, place of discipline).
ancient kingdom which gave its name to
varna - alternative term for caste system
Varnashramdharma – scriptural fourfold division of Brahmanical society, caste system
Vayu - god of wind
VC - Victoria Cross, the highest British award for bravery in the face of the enemy. To date, in the 145 years since its inception by Queen Victoria for conspicuous bravery during the Crimean War of 1854-56, only 1,354 VCs have been awarded, including a handful of double VCs, five civilians under military command, and the one presented to the American Unknown Warrior at Arlington. This figure includes the many awarded to Imperial, Commonwealth, and Dominion servicemen.
VCO - Viceroy's Commissioned Officer. There were three kinds of commissioned officer in the Indian Army of the time: British officers and Indian officers with the King's Commission who, in peacetime, or when not in battle or on operations, lived in the Officer's Mess, and Viceroy's Commissioned Officers. VCOs were commissioned from the ranks of the regiment or battalion, had a Viceroy's Commission, and were junior to all King's Commissioned officers of any rank. Their nearest equivalent in the British army was warrant officer, but VCOs had much higher status, commanded platoons, were second-in-command of companies, and lived in their own mess. They were addressed as Subedar Sahib, or Jemedar Sahib by all ranks including by King's Commissioned officers. The subedar major was the senior VCO in an Indian Army battalion, and had probably joined as a young sepoy or rifleman at about the same time as the CO joined as a subaltern. He was the CO's right-hand man and adviser on all regimental matters such as customs, promotions, recruiting, how well, or otherwise, the British officers (especially the younger ones) were relating to their Indian soldiers, and religion.
VE - Victory in Europe
Vedanta - An important Hindu philosophical system.
Vedas - Hindu sacred books originating in the 2nd millennium BC
vedettes - Mounted sentries
veena - Indian string instrument Vinar, (cu.veena) - string sitar like instrument resting on two gourds
Vengeance - A single-engined light bomber of US design, with a crew of two, and six .303 in machine-guns. The bomb load was 1,500 Ib.
veranda - Roofed open gallery attached to the exterior of a building (Hindi varanda)
Vickers Medium Machine-gun - A First World War vintage belt-fed, watercooled machine-gun, rate of fire 500 rounds per minute. Maximum range with Mark VIIIZ ammunition, 4,500 yards.
vishayi bhadralok – respectable salaried class
Vishnu - God of the Trimurti (three main gods), "the preserver or sustainer". The other gods are Brahma, the creator, and Siva, the destroyer and regenerator.
vizir – high state official
VJ - Victory in Japan
vyavasa – trade or business
vomitory – exit
WAAF - Women's Auxiliary Air Force
wad - Cake
wah - exclamation of praise
wallah - suffix for a person of a certain trade, or from a certain place etc; i.e. rickshaw-wallah (rickshaw driver), chai-wallah (tea seller), Delhi-wallah (a person from Delhi)
waqf (ouakaf) (musl.) – Concept of Hanafite origin. It is a donation in perpetuity to a religious association. The donation may not be afterwards sold gifted or otherwise be transmitted.
Warrant Officer - Since 1913 there have been two classes of Warrant Officer in the British army: WOII, typically a company/squadron sergeant major, and WOI, usually regimental sergeant major, of which there is generally only one in each battalion, regiment, or commando. Just before the Second World War a WOIII, or platoon sergeant major grade, was created to command platoons or troops, but it was not a success and was allowed to lapse.
A WO has a warrant signed by a government minister or representative of the Army Council, unlike a commissioned officer (of the rank of second lieutenant and above), who has a King's or Queen's commission. Those junior to WOls and WOUs in rank address them as sir and Mr (Surname); those superior to them formally refer to them as Mr (Surname) but often address and refer to them as Sergeant Major or RSM. Unlike VCOs, they are not saluted by those junior to them, and live in the WOs' and Sergeants' Mess.
WAVELL, Sir Archibald, later First Earl, - Commander-in-Chief Middle East 1939-41; Commander-in-Chief India 1941-3; Viceroy of India 1943-7.
wet - As in, "have a wet", tea
wizard - Excellent, as in "a wizard time"
WRNS - Women's Royal Naval Service
wog - Derogatory term for Indians or Arabs. Sometimes also Wiley Oriental Gentleman or Westernized Oriental Gentleman (Origin uncertain. Either Westernized Oriental Gentleman or from Golliwogg, a living black doll in children's books by the American writer Bertha Upton.
Workers and Peasant Party – communist grouping evolving from Congress and accused, at Meerut, of having fermented the strikes of 1929.
wuh - that one
WW1 - World War One
WW2 - World War Two
yagna - sacrifice
yaksha - demi god
Yama - god of death
yatra - pilgrimage
yd - yard
yellow fever - A disease transmitted by mosquitoes that causes jaundice, among many other symptoms
yellow jack - Yellow fever
YMCA - Young Men's Christian Association
yogi - an ascetic
Yoni - Vagina symbol, worshipped in conjunction with the lingam to symbolise the male and female creative power of the God Shiva.
yunani – Indian system of medicine of Islamic origin
yuga - devine or celestial measurement of time; 1 yuga = 3000 celestial years; 1 celestial year = 3600 human years; therefore 1 yuga = 10,800 human years. See also Kalyug / Kali Yuga.
YWCA - Young Women's Christian Association
zakat (musl.) –Islamic almsgiving one of the five pillars of Islam
zamindar / zemindar - land owner, originally tax collector, paying the government a fixed revenue (Hindi zamindar, from Persian, from zamin land + - dar holder)
zennana - women’s quarters
ZETLAND, Second Marquis of - Secretary of State for India 1935-40.
zilla – subdivision, district
… zindabad ! – Long live … !
Rupee One - King George VI - issued by Government of India (since August 1940)
Rupees Two - King George VI - issued by Government of India (3rd March , 1943)
Rupees Five - King George VI - issued by Reserve Bank of India (since January 1938)
Rupees Ten - King George VI - issued by Reserve Bank of India (since Febr.1938)
Rupees One Hundred - King George VI - issued by Reserve Bank of India (since March1938)
Rupees One Thousand - King George VI - issued by Reserve Bank of India (since June 1938)
Rupees Ten Thousand - King George VI - issued by Reserve Bank of India (since June 1938)
Rupees Ten - King George VI - Japanese forgeries
(seemingly signed by Governor C.D. Deshmukh) (1942-1945)
Rupee One - Ashoka Pillar - issued by Government of India (since 1949)
Rupees Five - Ashoka Pillar - issued by Reserve Bank of India (since 1950)
Rupees Ten - Ashoka Pillar - issued by Reserve Bank of India (since 1950)
Rupees One Hundred - Ashoka Pillar - issued by Reserve Bank of India (since 1950)
Rupees One Thousand - Ashoka Pillar - issued by Reserve Bank of India (since 1950)
Rupees Ten Thousand - Ashoka Pillar - issued by Reserve Bank of India (since 1950)
(fixed in 1899 when India switched effectively from the silver to the gold standard)
(source: personal scrapbook kept by Malcolm Moncrieff Stuart O.B.E., I.C.S. seen on 20-Dec-2005 / Reproduced by courtesy of Mrs. Malcolm Moncrieff Stuart)
The Rupee & the US Dollar