Words of Tamil origin

This is a list of English words that are directly or ultimately of Tamil origin. The list is by no means exhaustive. Gregory James, a professor with the language center of Hong Kong university has proposed that at least 107 words in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has been found of having Tamil origin.[1] Some English words of Malayalam and Sanskrit origins might be similar to Tamil words or would have been derived indirectly, which are not included in the list.

English words borrowed from Tamil

The following list contains words that were borrowed from Tamil either directly or indirectly through other languages. Some of the words listed below might have disputed or multiple origins.

English word Tamil word Transliteration Meaning
anaconda ஆனை கொன்றான் aanai kondraan elephant killer[2]
alvar ஆழ்வார் āl̤vār sink, be absorbed[3]
anicut அணைக்கட்டு anaikattu dam structure[4]
betel வெற்றிலை vettrilai a plant leaf[5]
candy கண்டு kantu candy[6]
cash காசு kāsu coin money[7]
catamaran கட்டுமரம் kattumaram tied wood[8]
cheroot சுருட்டு suruṭṭu roll[9]
coir கயிறு kayiru rope[10]
coolie, cooly கூலி cooli labour, hire[11]
corundum குருந்தம்/குருவிந்தம் kuruntham/kuruvintham ruby[12]
cot கட்டில் kattil bedstead[13]
cowrie, cowry கொடு kotu shell[14]
culvert கல்வெட்டு culvettu stone inscription[15]
curry கறி kari curry[16]
ginger இஞ்சி வேர் iñcivēr ginger root[17]
godown கிடங்கு kidangu store room[18]
jaggery சக்கரை chakkarai sugar[19]
kabaddi கை-பிடி kai pidi hold hands[20]
mango மாங்காய் maangaai unripe mango[21]
mongoose மங்குஸ் mangus snake killing ichneumon[22]
moringa முருங்கை murungai drumstick[23]
mulligatawny மிளகுத்தண்ணீர் milagu thanneer pepper water[24]
mung bean முங்கு mūngu sink/soak[25]
pagoda பகாவடி pagavadi house belonging to a deity[26]
pariah, pariahdom பறையர் paṟaiyar drummer[27]
patchouli பச்சை இலை pachchai ilai green leaf[28]
pandal பந்தல் pandal temporary shelter[29]
peacock தோகை tokei peacock feather[30]
poon புன்னை punnai Calophyllum inophyllum[31]
poppadom பப்படம் pappadam a thin crisp flat bread[32]
sambal சம்பல் sambal chilli based sauce[33]
Tamil தமிழ் tamil n/a
teak தேக்கு thekku a type of wood[34]
vetiver வெட்டிவேர் vettiver a tropical Indian grass (Vetiveria zizanioides)[35]

See also


The etymologies of on this page are from Oxford English Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, Online Etymology Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.


External links

Template:Tamil language

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