INTRODUCTION: Persian is one of the world's oldest languages, a standard and well-recognized tongue as early as the 6th century BC. It is one of the Iranian languages, which form a branch of the Indo-European family. Old Persian was the language of the great Persian Empire, which at one time extended from the Mediterranean to the Indus River in India. The language was written in Cuneiform, the wedge-shaped characters used throughout much of the ancient world. In the 2nd century BC, the Persians created their own alphabet, known as Pahlavi or Middle Persian, which remained in use until Iran became a part of Muslim World in the 7th century. Since then Middle Persian has been modified as to Modern Persian. Over 40 million people in Iran and another 5 million in Afghanistan speak Modern Persian. In Iran it is generally referred to as Farsi, in Afghanistan as Dari. A variety of Persian called Tajik is spoken in the Tajikistan, but there it is written in the Cyrillic alphabet.
Many words of Persian origin have made their way into English Language through various routes in different times. As an example, the English word of Paradise (from Persian term of Pardiss meaning royal garden) dates to the cultural contacts between Persians and Greeks in Achaemenids era, and through Greek and then Latin found its way into English. It is also documented that many words from Persian language came into English via India, Greece, Italy, France, and Germany in later times. In this article the English words of Persian origin, the First Iranian Words Made Their Way into English, are presented and explained.
ENGLISH WORDS OF PERSIAN ORIGIN:
1. ABSINTHE or ABSINTH (the plant wormwood, and a strong alcoholic drink that is green and has a bitter taste): From Persian SPAND.
2. ALGORITHM (a set of mathematical instructions): From the name of Iranian scientist Mohammad KHAARAZMI.
3. ARSENIC (a semi metallic element with a chemical symbol of As; its compounds are highly poisonous and are used in pest control and medicine): From Persian ZARNIKH or ZARING.
4. ARYAN (related to people lived on the Iranian plateau or related to the white people from northern Europe): From Persian ARYA or ARIYA.
5. AUBERGINE (eggplant): From Persian BADINJAN or BAADEMJAN.
6. AZURE (bright blue color): From Persian LAJAWARD.
7. BACTRIA (an ancient kingdom, once a part of the Persian and Seleucid Empires): From Persian BAKHTAR.
8. BAD (unpleasant): From Persian BAD.
9. BAND (a flat strip of material): From Persian BAND.
10. BAZAAR (an oriental market place or a permanent market): From Middle Persian BAHAZAR or VACHAR or from Modern Persian BAZAR.
11. BETTER (of higher standard to a greater degree, or more suitable, pleasing or effective than other things or people): From Persian BEH-TAR.
12. BEST (finest in quality or most advantageous): From Persian BEH-AST.
13. BORAX (a white powder used to make glass and cleaning powder): From Persian BURAH or BUREH.
14. BRONZE (a brown metal made of copper and tin): From Persian BERENJ.
15. BROTHER (a son in his relationship to another child of the same parents): From Persian BARAADAR.
16. CALABASH (a tropical plant, a large fruit): From Persian KHARBUZEH.
17. CANDY (crystallized sugar): From Persian QANDI or GHANDI.
18. CARAVAN (a group of people with vehicles or animals who travel together for safety through a dangerous area): From Persian CAARAVAN.
19. CASSOCK (a long loose piece of clothing): From Persian CAZHAQAND or CAJAGHAND.
20. CAVIAR or CAVIARE (the eggs of various large fish especially the sturgeon, which are eaten as food): From Persian KHAVIAR.
21. CHECKMATE (a winning position in chess or in a situation in which someone has been defeated or a plan cannot develop or continue): From Persian SHAHMAAT.
22. CINNABAR (the bright red mineral mercuric sulfide): From Persian SIMAAB.
23. COW (a large female farm animal kept to produce meat and milk): From Persian GAAW or GOW.
24. CYRUS (the founder of Persian Empire): From Persian KUROSH.
25. DARIUS (King of Persia): From Persian DARIUSH.
26. DERVISH (a member of a Muslim religious group which has an energetic movement as part of its worship): From Persian DARVISH.
27. DIVAN (a collection of poems by a single author): From Old Persian DIPIVAHANAM (DIPI=writing, document + VAHANAM=house) and from Modern Persian DIVAAN.
28. DOOR (a flat object, often fixed at one edge, that is used to close the entrance of something): From Old English DUR, and possibly from Persian DAR.
29. ESTHER (the niece of Mordecai and queen of Ahasuerus of Persia): From Persian SETAREH.
30. EUPHRATES (one of the two great rivers in Mesopotamia): From Old Persian or Avestan HUPERETHUA or from Modern Persian FARAAT.
31. EYEBROW (the line of short hairs above each eye in humans): From Persian ABROW.
32. FAR (the more distant of two): From Persian FAR or FARA.
33. FIRMAN (a royal decree): From Persian FARMAN.
34. FURTHER (to or at a greater distance): From Persian FARATAR.
35. GALINGALE (the aromatic rhizome of some plants related to ginger): From Persian KHALANG.
36. GUITAR (a musical instrument with usually six strings): From Persian SITAAR.
37. HENNA (a tropical shrub whose leaves yield a reddish-orange dye): From Persian HANAA.
38. HINDU (a native of India and also a member of or belonging to the main religion of India, which is based on four holy texts): From Persian HENDU.
39. JACKAL (a wild dog-like animal that eats animals, which have died or killed by others): From Persian SHOCKAL or SHOGHAL.
40. JASMIN or JASMINE (a genus of climbing shrubs of warm and temperate climate having very fragrant flowers): From Persian JASMAN or YASMIN.
41. JULEP (a cool drink flavored with syrup, sugar or herbs): From Persian GULAAB, rose water.
42. KEBAB (a dish consisting of small pieces of meat that have been put on a long thin stick or metal rod and cooked): From Persian KABAAB.
43. KHAKI (a light yellowish-brown color): From Persian KHAAKI, the color of soil (in Persian: KHAAK).
44. KHEDIVE (a title conferred on the viceroys of Egypt): From Old Persian KHAVADATA, and from Modern Persian KHADIVE.
45. KIOSK (a small building when various things are sold through an open window): From Persian KUSHK.
46. KURA (a river rising in north east Turkey and flowing through Georgia and Azerbaijan into the Caspian Sea): From Persian KUROSH.
47. LACQUER (a liquid which is painted on wood or metal and forms a hard, shiny, protective surface when it dries): From Persian LAK or LAAK.
48. LEMON (an oval fruit which has a thick yellow skin and sour juice): From Persian LEEMO.
49. LILAC (a bush or small tree with sweet-smelling purple or white flowers): From Persian NILAK
50. LIP (one of the two soft, red edges of the mouth): From Persian LAB.
51. LIME (a juicy round fruit which is sour like a lemon but smaller and green): From Persian LEEMO.
52. LIME GREEN (a light, bright, greenish-yellow color): From Persian LIMOEE.
53. LOVE (to have strong feelings of affection for another adult or to like something very much): From Persian LUVU or LUBU.
54. MAGIC (the imaginary power or the use of special powers to make things happen, which would usually be impossible): From Old Persian MAGUS, the mighty one.
55. MITHRAS (the ancient Iranian god of light and sun): From Persian MITRA or MEHR.
56. MOGUL (an important person who has great wealth or power): From Persia MUGHUL.
57. MOSQUE (a building for Islamic religious activities and worship): Through Arabic MASJED, originally taken from Middle Persian MAZGAT, house of worship.
58. MUMMY (a dead body that has been preserved from decay by being treated with special substances before being wrapped in cloth): From Persian MUM or MOOM, wax.
59. MUSK (a substance with a strong sweet smell, used in making perfumes): From Persian MOOSK, a plant.
60. NAPHTA (any of several various mixtures of hydrocarbons obtained by distilling coal, tar, or petroleum), and also NAPHTALENE, NAPHTENE, and NAPHTOL: Possibly from Persian NAFT.
61. NARCSSUS (a yellow, white or orange flower): From Persian NARGESS.
62. ORANGE (a color between red and yellow, and a round sweet fruit which has a thick orange-colored skin): From Persian NAARANG or NAARENJ.
63. OUNCE (a very little or a unit of weight): From Persian ANDAK.
64. PAGODA (a tall religious building in Asia with many levels, each of which has a curved roof): From Persian BOTKADEH.
65. PAJAMAS or PYJAMAS (soft loose clothing which consists of trousers and a type of shirt): From Middle Persian PAEJAMAH or PAYJAMAH and from Modern Persian PYJAAMEH.
66. PAHLAVI or PAHLEVI (the Persian language until seventh century): From Persian PAHLAVI.
67. PAPA (a child's word for father): From Persian PAPA or BABA.
68. PARADISE (a place or condition of great happiness where everything is exactly as you would like it to be, Paradise Heaven, and the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lived): From Old Persian PAIRIDAEZA or from Modern Persian PARDISS.
69. PARASANG (an ancient Persian unit of itinerant distance corresponding to approximately 3.5 miles or 5.6 kilometers, or the distance that can be traversed on foot in an hour): From Persian FARSANG or FARSAKH.
70. PARSI or PARSEE (a member of a religious group found mainly in western India, whose religion, Zoroastrianism, started in ancient Iran): From Persian PARSI.
71. PART (a separate piece of something, or a piece which combines with other pieces to form the whole of something): Possibly from Persian PAREH.
72. PASHA (a former courtesy title denoting high rank or office use after the holder's name in some Middle Eastern countries): From Persian PADESHAH.
73. PERI (a good fairy descended from fallen angels or a fairylike creature): From Persian PARI or PARYA.
74. PERSIENNES (outside window blinds with adjustable slats): From the word PERSIAN.
75. PRIZE (something valuable, such as an amount of money, that is given to someone who succeeds in a competition or game or that is given to someone as a reward for doing very good work): From Persian PERY.
76. PILAF or PILAU (rice cooked in spicy liquid, often with vegetables or meat added): From Persia POLU.
77. PISTACHIO (a nut with a hard shell which contains an edible green seed): From Persian PESTEH.
78. PUNJAB (an area of the Indian Subcontinent shared by India and Pakistan): From Persian PANJAAB.
79. REACH (to arrive at a place, or to reach a decision, agreement, conclusion, and so on): From Old English RAECAN or possibly from Persian RESSIDAN.
80. RHUBARB (a plant which has long sour-tasting red and green stems that can be cooked and eaten as a fruit): From Persian RIVAAS or RIVAND.
81. RICE (the small seeds of a particular type of grass, which are cooked and eaten as food): From Persian RIZ.
82. ROC (an enormous legendary bird thought to inhabit the region around the Indian Ocean): From Persian ROKH.
83. ROOK (A castle-shaped piece in chess): From Persian ROKH.
84. SAFFRON (a crocus cultivated for its flowers, whose stigmas yield an orange substance used for coloring and flavoring foods): From Persian ZAFARAAN.
85. SATRAP (a provincial ruler or a governor in ancient Iran): From Persian SATRAP.
86. SCARLET (a brilliant red color or red clothes): From Persian SAQALAT or SAGHLATOON, a kind of rich clothe.
87. SCIMITAR (a sword with a curved blade which is sharp only on its outer edge and which gets wider towards its pointed end): From Persian SHAMSHIR.
88. SEERSUCKER (a light cloth which has a pattern of raised and flat strips on it): From Persian SHEERSHEKARI.
89. SEPOY (an Indian soldier in the British-Indian army): From Persian SEPAAHY.
90. SERAGLIO (a harem): From Persian SARA.
91. SHAH (the title of king of Iran): From Persian SHAH.
92. SHAWL (a large piece of cloth worn especially by women or girls over their shoulders and/or head): From Persian SHAAL.
93. SHERRY (a type of strong wine, usually drunk before a meal, varying from a pale yellow to a brown color): From Persia SHIRAZ.
94. SITAR (an Indian musical instrument with a round body, a long neck and two sets of strings): From Persian SEHTAR.
95. SPINACH (a vegetable which has wide dark green leaves which are eaten cooked or raw): From Persian ESFANAAJ.
96. STAR (a very large ball of burning gas in space which is usually seen from Earth as a point of light in the sky at night): From Persian SETAREH.
97. SUGAR (a sweet substance which is obtained especially from the plants sugar cane and sugar beet and used to sweeten food and drinks): From Persian SHEKKAR.
98. TAFFETA (a stiff, shiny cloth made from silk or artificial material): From Persian TAAFTEH.
99. TALC (a powder, usually having a pleasant smell, put on the skin to make it feel smooth or to help it stay dry): From Persian TAALC.
100. TAMBOUR or TAMBOURINE (a small musical instrument): From Persian TANBOUR.
101. TANDOORI (a particular Indian method of cooking food in a clay cooker): From Persian TANOOR.
102. TAPESTRY (a piece of cloth): From Persian TAAFTEH.
103. TARTAR (a person with a fierce and severe manner): From Persian TATAR.
104. TIARA (a precious headdress): From Persian TAROK, a headdress worn by ancient Iranians.
105. TULIP (a plant): Possibly from Persian DELBOOS.
106. TURANIAN (the Ural?Altaic family of languages): From Persian TURAN.
107. TURBAN (a head covering for a man, worn especially by Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus): From Persian TOOR + BAND.
108. TYPHOON (a violent wind which has a circular movement): From Persian TOOFAN.
109. VIZIR or VIZIER (a high ranking government official): From Persian VAZIR.
110. ZARATHUSHTRA (the name of Zoroaster, a prophet of ancient Iran): From Persian ZARTOSHT or ZARDOSHT.
111. ZENANA (that part of the house in India or ancient Iran reserved for the women): From Persian ZANANEH.
112. ZIRCON (a mineral found as tetragonal crystals of various colors): From Persian ZARGOON.
The list presented in this article includes only the most popular and prevalent English words of Persian origin. Names like Cameron (Kamraan), Kevin (Kayvaan) or Afghanistan and Tajikistan, which have the suffix of ISTAN (in Middle Persian, it means a place to stand and in Modern Persian it is called Ostan, a province) are not included in the list. The sources of this article are Dehkhoda Dictionary (Farhang-e-Dehkhoda), Modern Dictionary (Vajehnameh-e-Noveen) by Mohammad Gharib, Britannica, Wikipedia, the New Lexicon Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary, and the well-written articles by Guive Mirfendereski (in reference to words Best, Far, Lip, and Love), and by Pirayeh Yaghmaii in reference to the term of Bazaar.
Obviously, there are some more English words of Persian origin, which should be studied and presented by literature scholars and professional etymologists. And it is well known that the similarities among some languages are more than their differences!
Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD
Originally published in Persian Journal on Oct 17, 2005
And here: http://www.irandefence.net/showthread.php?t=246
Read more: http://iranian.com/posts/popular-english-words-with-persian-origin-36603
Read more: http://iranian.com/posts/popular-english-words-with-persian-origin-36603
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