List of English words of Dravidian origin

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This is a list of English words that are borrowed directly or ultimately from Dravidian languages. Dravidian languages include Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and a number of other languages spoken mainly in South Asia. The list is by no means exhaustive.

Some of the words can be traced to specific languages, but others have disputed or uncertain origins. Words of disputed or less certain origin are in the "Dravidian languages" list. Where lexicographers generally agree on a source language, the words are listed by language.

Dravidian languages[edit]

  • Betel, Leaf of a vine belonging to the Piperaceae family[1][2]
  • Hot toddy, beverage made of alcoholic liquor with hot water, sugar, and spices, from Hindi tari "palm sap", probably from a Dravidian language[6]
  • Mongoose, a small carnivorous mammal from southern Eurasia or Africa, known for killing snakes[9]
  • Orange, a citrus fruit; also a color named for the fruit[10]


English word Malayalam Word Transliteration Meaning
Coir കയർ kayar Natural fibre extracted from the husk of coconut[12]
Copra കൊപ്ര kopra Dried kernel, of the coconut [13]
Jackfruit ചക്ക Chakka A big tropical fruit[14]
Jaggery ശർക്കര Sharkara Coarse brown sugar made from palm and sugarcane[15]


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.[16]

English word Tamil word Transliteration Meaning
candy கண்டு kantu candy[17]
cash காசு kāsu coin money[18]
catamaran கட்டுமரம் kattumaram tied wood[19]
cheroot சுருட்டு suruṭṭu roll[20]
congee கஞ்சி kanji porridge, Congee[21]
coolie கூலி cooli labour, hire[22]
corundum குருந்தம்/குருவிந்தம் kuruntham/kuruvintham ruby[23]
cot கட்டில் kattil bedstead[24]
cowry கொடு kotu shell[25]
mulligatawny மிளகுத்தண்ணீர் milagu thanneer pepper water[26]
mung bean முங்கு mūngu sink/soak[27]
pagoda பகாவடி pagavadi house belonging to a deity[28]
pariah பறையர் paṟaiyar drummer[29]
patchouli பச்சை இலை pachchai ilai green leaf[30]
pandal பந்தல் pandal temporary shelter[31]
peacock தோகை tokei peacock feather[32]
sambal சம்பல் sambal chilli based sauce[33]


English word Telugu word Transliteration Meaning
Bandicoot పందికొక్కు pandi-kokku various rat-like marsupials from Asia or Australia[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Betel;at". 
  2. ^ "Betel; Define Betel at". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  3. ^ "Curry; Define Curry at". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  4. ^ "Curry leaf;etymology linked with Spice trade with Kerala". 
  5. ^ Origins of Plant Names-D.A. Patil. 
  6. ^ "toddy". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  7. ^ "Mango; Define Mango at". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  8. ^ "Mango;at Merriam Webster". 
  9. ^ "mongoose". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  10. ^ "orange n.1 and adj.1". Oxford English Dictionary online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-30. (subscription required)
  11. ^ "teak". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  12. ^ "Coir;at Etymonline". 
  13. ^ "Copra;at Etymonline". 
  14. ^ "Jackfruit; at Merriam Webster". 
  15. ^ "Jaggery Etymology". 
  16. ^ "For this professor, tracking Tamil words in English is a passion". Times of India. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  17. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  18. ^ "Cash | Define Cash at". Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  19. ^ "Catamaran; Define Catamaran at". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  20. ^ "Cheroot; Define Cheroot at". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  21. ^ "Congee". Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  22. ^ "Coolie; Define Coolie at". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  23. ^ "Corundum; Define Corundum at". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  24. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  25. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  26. ^ "Mulligatawny; Define Mulligatawny at". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  27. ^ "Mung bean | Define Mung bean at". Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  28. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  29. ^ "Pariah; Define Pariah at". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  30. ^ "patchouli". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  31. ^ "Pandal; Define Pandal at". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  32. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  33. ^ "Sambal; Define Sambal at". Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  34. ^ "bandicoot". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-03-06.