The cheroot is a cylindrical cigar with both ends clipped during manufacture. Since cheroots do not taper, they are inexpensive to roll mechanically, and their low cost makes them particularly popular and plentiful thanks to historical brands like Avanti.
The word cheroot comes from French cheroute, from Tamil curuttu/churuttu/shuruttu (சுருட்டு)- roll of tobacco. This word could have been absorbed into the French language from Tamil during the 18th century, when the French were trying to stamp their presence in South India. The word could have then been absorbed into English from French.
'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green,
An' 'er name was Supi-yaw-lat -- jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen,An' a-wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot:
An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot,
My brother was unlike us in some things, Sahib. He was fond of the sharab called 'Whisky' and of dogs; he drank smoke from the cheroot after the fashion of the Sahib-log and not from the hookah nor the bidi; he wore boots; he struck with the clenched fist when angered; and never did he squat down upon his heels nor sit cross-legged upon the ground. Yet he was true Pathan in many ways during his life, and he died as a Pathan should, concerning his honour (and a woman). Yea—and in his last fight, ere he was hanged, he killed more men with his long Khyber knife, single-handed against a mob, than ever did lone man before with cold steel in fair fight.—Captain Percival Christopher Wren, I.A.R., 1912, Driftwood Spars
Apparently[by whom?], Cheroot smoking was also associated with resistance against tropical disease in India. Verrier Elwin wrote in a foreword (1957) to Leaves from the Jungle: Life in a Gond Village,
A final thing strikes me as I re-read the pages of the Diary that follows is that I seem to have spent much of my time falling ill. I attribute this to the fact that in those days I was a non-smoker. Since I took to the cheroot, I have not had a single attack of malaria, and my health improved enormously in later years."—Leaves from the Jungle: Life in a Gond Village, OUP 1992, p.xxix)
Most likely the cheroot's aroma, by sticking to the skin and hiding the scent of sweat, which draws mosquitoes, contributed to making the smoker less of a target for their bites.
- Etymology of Selected Words of Indian Language Origin
- Barrack-Room Ballads, by Rudyard Kipling - Mandalay, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2819/2819-h/2819-h.htm#2H_4_0014
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