Hindi words of Arabic origin

Having worked with many people from India and Pakistan in the 1990s, I was often fascinated by words that sounded Arabic in origin. When asking about the meaning, they were indeed Arabic. And I could detect more words in the few Hindi Bollywood movies that I have seen as well.

Arabic influence on Hindi may have been via several avenues. One was via Farsi (Persian) as an intermediate, having been the language of the court for the Mughal emperors. Another was through Muslim scholars using these words from Arabic texts and they made their way into the vernacular.

Whatever the avenues are, here are some words that I did recognize, with the Arabic spelling and Arabic meaning, which the Hindi derives from, but may deviate somewhat from.

waqt = وقت = time
admi = آدمي = human being
insaan = انسان = human being
takriban = تقريبا = approximately, almost
leken = لكن = but
shaitan = شيطان = devil, satan
mabhoom = مبهوم = hidden, unknown future event
shukriya = شكر = thank you, not an exact copy, "ya" is added
khabar = خبر = news item
akhbar = اخبار = plural of above
ajab = عجب = wonder, strange occurrence
ajib = عجيب = strange, derived from above root
ajaib = عجايب = plural of ajab, same root. Punjabi/Sikh name
aql = عقل = mind, intellect
dimag = دماغ = intellect in Hindi, though the Arabic word could mean "head", "skull", and "brain" as well
azam = عظم = great
azmat = عظمة = greatness, derived from above root
silsila = سلسلة = chain, Hindi = series of events
mushkil = مشكل = problem, unclear
hal = حال = condition, state
mahabat = محبة = love
kharab = خراب = destruction
bilkol = بالكل = "all of it", derives from كل
ya3ni = يعني = which means, meaning, also a "conversation filler"
intezar = انتظار = waiting for
mohtaram = محترم = respected
mukarram = مكرم = from كرم karam, generosity
sahib = صاحب = companion, friend, used as Mister in Hindi
adab = آداب = good manners
adat = عادات = customs
aynak = عين = from eye (ain), means spectacles in Hindi
akhir = آخر = the end
alam = عالم = universe
alim = عالم = scholar, scientist, learned person
asal = أصل = origin
asali = أصلي = original
ashiq = عاشق = lover
aziz = عزيز = dear
filhal = فى الحال = currently, at the moment
marhoom = مرحوم = is often used when referring to people who have passed on not unlike allah yarhamuh. Same usage as in rural Egypt
kalam = كلام = speech, especially the words of a poet
qalam = قلم = pen
kursi = كرسي = chair
ijazat = اجازة = permission
hayat = حياة = life
Ishq = عشق = deep love, extreme passion
saltanat = سلطنة = kingdom
qubul = قبول = agree
matlab = مطلب = concern, meaning
mashhoor = مشهور = famous, known
hirasat = حراسة = guarding
khass = خاص = special, distinct
takleef = تكليف = orders given, mission
dunya = دنيا = world
Maut = موت = death
Dukaan = دكان = store
Jeeb = جيب = pocket
sahee = صحيح = correct/right
murabba = مربى = jam, fruit preserve

There are also words that are what language teachers call "false friends" :

gharib (غريب), for example, usually means poor and not "strange, foreign" though it can also mean the latter in certain contexts, e.g. عجيب و غريب.

This is not unlike in the Middle East where gharib also means "stranger, foreigner, wanderer, someone with unknown origin/domicile".

There is also a Hindi/Urdu to English dictionary which allows input in Arabic characters.

Thanks to Junaid Quadri and Prathibha Juturu for additional words (now included above).

If you know some more words in Hindi that are Arabic, please post them below in the comments ...





Sir, With all due respect your keen conservation about oour language hindi is good but I would also like to add here that many words as you stated above are related to arabic - yes but they are urdu.. Not exactly hindi.

Few examples I would like to put here as:

waqt = وقت = time - In hindi its 'Samay'
admi = آدمي = human being - In hindi its 'Insaan'
leken = لكن = but - In hindi its 'Kintu'
aql = عقل = mind, intellect - In hindi its ' Dimag'
hayat = life - In hindi its 'Zindagi'

Now these words that you have mentioned waqt, admi, leken are frequently by Hindus as well because of the long traditions of this vast culture of India. Undoubtedly the best example of brotherhood.

It also has long tradition of Mughal Rule "who were originally from Afghanistan." They were here for nearly 500 years so the usage of these words became prominent.

However, the post is really a learning experience. Thank you.

Some are Arabic ...

Some of these are still Arabic ...

Specifically, Insaan, and Dimag. I added them above to the list.


Thanks, I added them.

All are Arabic, except for the last one, which I don't recognize at all. Perhaps Persian.

Thanks for the list Khalid,

Thanks for the list Khalid, but to let you know an average literate Hindu is well aware of these words and its arabic or persian origin. We in our language Hindi call these worda "tadbhav" or "videshaj" means foreign origin.
But again these are part of Urdu language ( frankly) this is the difference between hindi and urdu.The language devised by muslims in India in order to islamize country.
The most horrible part of the story is, none of the hindu has any kind of good feeling about these foreign words. These are not loan words but were forced on common hindu civilization. It was an attempt to replace Indian culture with Arabic.

Many of the muslim ruler (foreign or Indian) supported persian as official language and arabic as religious language (language of court) . They forced common people to read and write in persian/arabic.
Therefore we still find official record, survey maps, chronicals in persian or urdu in pre independnce era.

Hindi is quite different and a complete language if spoken in its standard form. Most of the people misunderstood it with Hindustani language which is lingua franca but again mixture of arabic, persian, english words.

It is not new though, where ever arabic went they tried to destroy the local culture and replaced it with their own

Ultranationalistic view

Borrowing of words is a common feature in all languages.

The view that language is "pure" and loan words are only a tool for foreign domination, not cultural exchange, is an indication of being under a victimization mindset.

I see this ultranationalistic mindset in Iran, India, Arab countries, ...etc.

If you look at colonial languages, like French and English, you will see loan words in them too, despite those cultures being the colonial masters, not a victim of colonialism.

Humans just borrow words, habits, tools, and much more all the time ... just a fact of life.

Yeah, I am agree with you.

Yeah, I am agree with you. Human borrow words, habit, tools and knowledge. But again, surprisingly you find tonnes of arabic words in Hindustani language but not even ten words in Arabic language. This is what I am trying to put forth. When there was cultural exchange, it should have been in both ways. Here, I only see arabic influnce on Hindi. There is not a slightest influnce on arabic language from Hindi or any other native Indian languages. While at the same time, there was knowledge and technological transfer from India to middle east.

This is weird, cause in case of english we clearly see the exchange of words in both directions. This quiet visible in modern english dictionaries.

There are some, this one

There are some, this one springs to mind:

Arabic: shattaranj = Sanskrit: चतुरङ्ग = English: chess

And you'll find Arabic rarely borrows words anyway because it's a fairly complete language, and it contains very strong capacity to coin new words internally. Not to say it never does, it borrowed plenty of Persian, Greek & Latin words and more recently English, but that was mostly because it was in direct contact with them. Arab speakers were not really in direct contact with the sub-continent.

Yeah right, but again

Yeah right, but again english, french native speakers were not in direct contact with India or Hindi but still they have many Hindi words in their dictionary.
The thing is Arabs, persians indeed learnt many technologies, medical, mathematical, astronomical inventions from India but they put their own lebels before presenting it to others. That is the reason why no credit to India.
example is:
Arbic numerals are basically Indian numerals
Islamic Unani medicine is again learnt from Indian Ayurveda.
Arabic astronomical science has some effect from Indian astronomy.

No doubt they did. Not sure

No doubt they did. Not sure where anyone has suggested otherwise?

Seems you're arguing from a point of view of defending Indian contributions to civilisation, when nobody has ever disputed said contributions.

This discussion is not about banging anyone's drum, it's simply about language contributions.