Talk:List of Sinhala words of Tamil origin

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Transcription and Accuracy[edit]

comment by Bodhi[edit]

The analyis in this article is unfortunately unsupported. It is necessary to attempt to relate each word to words that are found in old sources (e.g, inscriptions, Sigiri Griffiti for elu, etc,) and DATE the words before they are ascribed to a source language (by giving references) - there is quite a bit of work available on dating tamil words as well. In effect, much of this article, as it stands, is basically questionable. Tamil is being used as a generic name? Does the author not distinguish between Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada words? What about Oriya words? Prakrit and Sanskrit words have independently gone into many languages. So what we have here is a dangerous, unrestrained exercise [The author may know the story of "Hampton bridge" in Chennai and how it became "Barber bridge" - a story that the linguistics people in the Tamil department at Madras University love to tell]. What about many Elu words which do not occur in South or North India, but found in SL and in ancient middle-eastern sources? Or does he lump all that as tamil? To correct this article will require quite a bit of effort. Bodhi dhana 04:43, 17 April 2007 (UTC)Bodhi_dhanaBodhi dhana 04:43, 17 April 2007 (UTC)


Bodhi - Firstly Malayalam and Kannada evolved from Tamil language. The Tamil language is one of the oldest today that is still in modern usage. Elu words are not part of Tamil and are not lumped into this article. Find me one example of an Elu Word? Pure Tamil did not evolve from Sanskrit, rather sanskrit duplicated the amount of words in the Tamil Language ex. DEvan, kadavul - kObam, sinam etc. The core of this article is actually from a SINHALA grammar book written in 1800s from a SINHALESE. Bodhi, I would wish most of the pro-Tamil links be removed at the moment - it adds nothing to the document - but this article is factual and well researched. If you can proved some examples and evidence (not hearsay) then the words will be removed. I can hardly see how Sigiriya Inscriptions are going to provide a list of words from Tamil origin into Sinhala.

On another subject I do not like how the Tamil words are currently transcribed - it should differenate between "d" and "t"; and "dh" and "th" or even better be placed in to tamil font with an english subtitle underneath. The sinhala has to stay as is as there are no real support with Unicode fonts. Lee1983 09:25, 10 May 2007 (UTC)


  • The words in this list are transcribed poorly. The length of vowels and retroflexion of consonants need to be expressed. Like this, the list is worthless. I suggest using the standard indological transcription, e.g. "āṇḍuva" instead of "Anduva".
  • Some of the words respectively the translations given are wrong. E.g., "Ayye" is only used when adressing someone, the correct word for "elder brother" is "ayyā"; "Kuli" doesn't mean "rent", it should be "kuliya".
  • In several cases, the derivation from Tamil is more than doubtful, e.g. "kakula" corresponds to Sanskrit "kaṅkāla" and Pali "kaṅkala"; "beraya" to Sanskrit and Pali "bhēri" ("parai" is possibly a Sanskrit loanword in Tamil); "äṇaya" ("nail") to Sanskrit and Pali "āṇi(ka)" (Tamil word again probably loanword from Sanskrit); etc.

I am aware that this is a political matter to many people who think that a high number of Tamil loanwords in Sinhala can be used to doubt the Sinhalese national identity. However, most languages have a high number of loanwords which are old or recent, easily discernible or not at all to the common speaker. That applies for almost all European languages and Indian languages as well. It does not prove anything except that there has been close contact between two languages respectively groups of speakers. So please don't be tense and grim about this matter. Krankman 16:49, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Hi RaveenS, I have looked at some of your edits and you seem to be one of the few natives who are impartial in Sri Lankan matters. So please don't take my above statement (which may habe been a bit harsh) as directed against you. When I have the time, I'll be happy to assist you in improving the quality of the list. Cheers, Krankman 17:25, 5 July 2006 (UTC)
Please update it as best as you can. After all this is a Stub :-)). Supposedly there are 400 loan or substratum (?) Tamil or some kind of Proto-Dravidian words in Sinhalese. So there is a lot to be done. Thanks RaveenS 18:46, 5 July 2006 (UTC)
The problem is that even in the scientific community there is no agreement in many of the cases. But I guess we'll be able to develop a nice list in the course of time by sticking to those cases that are unambiguous. Krankman 11:30, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
There is a Sinhalese dictionary of Tamil words, that I have listed. It should form the bed rock of this list.RaveenS 13:19, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

My changes[edit]

Alright. I have overhauled the list. Removed some, added some. I have many more to add, but after spending three hours on this, I have to attend to some real-life duties. I will add my stuff (which I've collected for years) in the course of time. Anybody who wants to add words but doesn't know the correct transcription, just insert in normal writing and I will take care of the transcription and alphabetical order.

Let me take this occasion to thank RaveenS for starting this list.

  • "Amma" is present in almost all Indian languages (also Hindi), so may be a very old inherited term.
  • "Appocchi" too different from "Appa" to be directly derived from Tamil.
  • "Vale" not to be found in dictionaries.
  • "Kuliya" ("depression") not in the dictionaries.
Unfortunately place name endings and personal names are not in dictionaries (so we have to find other sources) but place names such as Kuliyapitiya, Mattakuliya...
Also it depends on where the places with such names are located: If they are in the North Central province or anywhere close to the sea in the East or in the West, they were probably Tamil settlements in the beginning and the population changed over to Sinhala in the course of time (like Puttalama); that might possibly be the case with Kuliyapitiya.
  • "Kulama" not in the dictionaries.
Same as above Bulankulama.... (also a last name)
Yeah, but here it's most probably like I said above. (Also, for times before the conflict broke out (for centuries, that is), we might expect villages with linguistically mixed populations, I suppose.)
Kulama' is derivative of Tamil word 'Kulam' means pond, which associated with Agricultural settlements of Tamils--BlueLankan 16:30, 22 September 2009 (UTC)
  • "Bera" see above in my first discussion entry.
  • "Peruma": I don't think this belongs to Perumal because the "l" is missing; if it is Tamil at all, more likely to perumai "Greatness, glory, status". However it is even more likely that it belongs to Sinhala peruma "hope" or perum "attainment, completion of the Buddhist ordinances" (from Pali pāramitā). Removed it for the moment.
Personal name endings are not in dictionaries, names such as Thervaraperuma, Kaluperuma... (see Karave and Durave for list of Tamil derived house or Ge names)
But in this case a derivation from a Sinhala term is quite likely due to the missing "l". Or can you state Tamil names that include "-perum(a) without the "l"?
  • Does anybody know if "koon" really means "blacksmith" in Tamil/Malayalam?
Kon is Tamil for king, usually used as part of names such as Tennakoon or Tennakone .....
  • "Kuppama" not in the dictionaries.
Kuppama is a settlement of Rodiya people
Kuppama is a word derived from Tamil word Kuppam means settlement of Low caste people or fisheries folk. the word still in use in Tamil Nadu. [Eg. Kuppam, a village in Tamil Nadu]--BlueLankan 16:30, 22 September 2009 (UTC)
  • "Kari" not in the dictionaries; occasional use in slang language probably through English "curry" from Hindi "karhi", "taste".
Curry is a english word derived from Tamil word Karry, not Hindi word Karhi.--BlueLankan 16:30, 22 September 2009 (UTC)
Listed some clarifications Huracane 14:54, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Added comments. Krankman 15:19, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Additional words for discussion[edit]

Guys, if possible, mark long vowels by putting double vowels ("aa") from now on to make it easier finding the correct word in the dictionary. Thanks!
  • Sothi - Sothi - Handicapped (unable to walk)
"sotti", "crippled" seems to match it
  • Andi - Andi - Medicant/Beggar
can't find that in my dictionaries
"kotiya" (with a short "o") seems to be Sinhala derived from Sanskrit "krooshtu", "panther"

RaveenS 12:20, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

  • Modaya
"mōḍa" is there, that should be enough
  • Maligawa
well, let's keep that one in mind
Comments by Krankman 22:07, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Karave - Karaiyar (caste title)
  • Berava - Paraiyar
  • Mukkaru - Mukkuvar
  • Aluva - Tamil version of Halava, Alva
I'd leave it out because it's not a Sinhala word
  • Handiya - Santhi - Junction
that's a Sanskrit borrowing (sandhi "link, intersection")
  • Paalama - Paalam - Bridge
already there
Comments by Krankman 11:10, 21 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Surrutuva - Surrutu - cigars
  • Beediya - Beedi - Kind of loacl cigar

More Tamil Loan words in Sinhala[edit]

(With the assistance of an Old Sinhala Grammar.. the following words) (note, I am not 100% expert on Sinhala)

Sinhala - Tamil - English
appochchi - appaachchi - father
ambala - ambalam - inn, resthouse
araliya - alari - Frangipani
ali - aliyan - Elephant
awari - avuri - Indigo
angaana - angaadi - Stall
aadayam - aadhayam -income
aeni - aani - nail (lynch-pin)
aembaeTTa - ambattan - barber
ichcha - ichchai - flattery
iyam - idam - place
ilakka - ilakku - target
ilakkam - ilakkam - number
ilatti - ilaththi - dung

can't find the Tamil word, please assist

ilawa - izhavu - funeral
ira - eer(u) - to saw
iraTTa - irattai -double/even number
iLandari - iLandhaari - youth/young man
uDaenni - uDukkai - small drum
udawi - udhavi - help
ura - urinju - to suck up
uraema - urimai - right
uLukku - suLukku - sprain
uuliyam - uuzhiyam - service/work
ediri - edhiri - opposition
ella - ellai - direction/course

can't find the Tamil word, please assist

ottu - otru - act of spying
otta - otrai - odd number
Onae - vEnum - must/want

Thats enough for one night. --Lee1983 12:06, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

comments made by Krankman 13:25, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks a lot! I'll put the unambiguous ones in and give the reasons why the others are not included below. Oh, and could you give me the exact title of the dictionary you have used? Cheers, Krankman 13:16, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

No problems...
Section 234 - Words Naturalised and derived from Tamil
Book - "A Comprehensive Grammar of the Sinhalese language"
Author A.M.Gunasekara
First Published: 1891
ISBN: 81-206-0106-8

Can I also add; I would love to see a "Sinhala Grammar" Page on the internet as all I have come across are poor and/or abandoned.

Well, I suppose the description of the grammar ought to be in the Sinhala article. I don't have that much time, but I'll be trying to work on it. :-) Krankman 11:25, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Sinhala - Tamil - English
kaTTumaram - kattumaram - Fishing raft (Tamil word is used in English as Catamaran =) )
kaDala - kadalai - peanuts
kaDasarakku - kadaisharakku (kadai + sarakku) - Groceries
kaDinam - kadinam - haste
kaDiwaaLam/kaLiyaa - kadivaaLam - Bridle
kaNNaDi - kaNNadi - mirror or spectacles
kaNakku - kaNakku - account, rate
kaNisam - kaNisam - size /extent
kaN - kaN - eye (Is this common usage in Sinhala?)
kappam - kappam - tribute
kappal - kappal - ship
kappi - kappi - half ground grain
kambi - kambi - wire
kayieli - kayili - dyed clothe - untranslatable
kaitaaLam - kaithaaLam - Catechu
kaiwaarae - kaivaaram - flattery
kara -karai - bank (eg. river)
karawaLu - karuvaadu - dried fish
karaewaLa - kuraL - darkness
kaludae - kazhudhai - donkey
kawaNi - kavaNi - sort of muslin
kasakasaa - kasagasaa - Poppy seed
kaLavam - kaLavam - mixture
kan`kanam (overseer) - kaNkaaNi (Inspecting) - N/A
kaandam - kaandham - magnet
kaappu - kaappu - bracelet
kaal - kaal - quater
kaeti - kaththi - Knife
kaeDAE - kaadu - jungle
kiTTu - kitta - near
kuDa - kudai - umbrella
kuMBu - kuumbu - mast
kurae - kuru - short (in statue)
kuraemblaa - kurumbai - tender coconut
kulal - kuzhal - neck/flute
kulee - kuuli - Coolie/hire/wages
kuDaa - kuudai - basket
kuDu - kuudu - nest
keNDi - kendi - calf muscle
koTi - koDi - flag/banner
kottamalli - kothamalli - coriander
kombu - kombu - The Sinhala Vowel mark "e"
komaDu - kommatti - Watermelon
koLLa - koLLai - plunder
kONam - kohmaNam/kohvaNam - useful peice of cloth for men as not to disgrace themselves
kOvil - kOvil - Temple
galkaNDu - garkaNdu - sugar candy
chaNDi - chaNdi - fight
jaaDi - jaaDi - Jar
jODu - jODu -pair/brace

I'll write some more soon

) --Lee1983 09:23, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
I've got the book here and I found the section you are citing. That's quite a list! Krankman 11:49, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

I would like to learn more sinhala, but here I don't have the resources -- if you have any resources that could help me I would be more than grateful. My email is on my talk page. --Lee1983 12:00, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Name change[edit]

I propose this list be changed to List of Sinhala words of Tamil origin ? RaveenS 14:01, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

Removed references[edit]

One is a Sinhalese dictionary of Tamil words recently published, it surely has to be the bed rock of this list ?RaveenS

Name change[edit]

If we are following Krankman's line of thinking I propose this list be changed to Sinhala words of Dravidian origin (at least) or Sinhala words of Proto-Dravidian origin. Because we do not know which words are of Proto-Dravidian origin and hence, to follow Krankman's line of thinking, not Tamil. "Tamil words" would be those that are not Proto-Dravidian or haven't been borrowed from any other language. Clozapine 06:01, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

I probably shouldn't even bother to answer to this silly proposal. Anyway.
This proposal is certainly not in my "line of thinking". "Proto-Dravidian"--as is obvious from the name--is a proto-language, a hypothetical language reconstructed by comparative methods (compare Proto-Indo-European language). "Proto-Dravidian" and Sinhala are millenia apart. Krankman 10:46, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

Expand this article[edit]

Give reasons why this is an encylopedia artile not just a list of words. Describe how Sinhalese came about these words, there effect etc.RaveenS 13:51, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Removed word[edit]

I have removed komaḍu "water melon" because it is not derived from Tamil kommaṭṭi "a kind of cucumber plant" but from Sanskrit kuṣmāṇḍaka "a kind of cucumber plant" according to Geiger, Sinhalese Grammar, §70 2). The Tamil word likely is connected to the Sanskrit word, maybe it even is Dravidian, but the derivation of the Sinhala term from the Sanskrit one is 100% in accordance with established sound change laws. Krankman 16:58, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Word mōḍa[edit]

The word mōḍa "foolish, ignorant", instead of deriving from Tamil mōṭi "stupidity", according to Gunasekara's "Comprehensive grammar of Sinhalese language" derives from Sanskrit mūḍha "foolish", related also to Pali mūḷaha and Elu muḷā. If confirmed, I suggest to remove it from this list. Paryeshakaya 20:06, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

I removed the word mōḍa, as for etimology explained above. Paryeshakaya 07:30, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

The word "Mama"[edit]

There must be a cited source for this. The word "Mama" (or a variant of) is also present in Hindi, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Nepali (though in this instance it means "paternal uncle") and most likely various other languages too This link goes to a number of dictionaries for South Asian languages. This one goes to Konkani. This is Urdu's variant on the word. The Assamese word(s) for "uncle" can be found here.

Now, please cite a reasonable source explaining how the Sinhala word (Mama) was originally taken from Tamil, and not just an Indo-Aryan word that was brought to the island and remains to this day? --Maurice45 (talk) 14:20, 18 April 2009 (UTC)

Mama is not Indo-Aryan word. If it is found in North Indian languages, we cannot assume it as Indo-Aryan, because Mama not found in other Indo-Aryan languages outside of India, in case see Latin, German or Russian languages[1]. The fact Mama came into North indian languages through South Indian languages. Word Mama derived from word Amman which still used in Malayalam and Sri Lankan Tamil which stands for Maternal uncle or uncle from mother side[2]. We cannot say how Sinhala got the word Mama, either from Tamil or North Indian languages.

The title of the article must be changed to "Tamil loanwords in Sinhala"[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was page moved to Tamil loanwords in Sinhala. Abecedare (talk) 09:14, 4 October 2009 (UTC)


In accordance with the terminology used in linguistics, words borrowed from other languages are defined as loanwords. Therefore the title of the article should be changed to "Tamil loanwords in Sinhala". --SriSuren (talk) 12:38, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

Request/proposal template added. All active editors of this page must state their views, within reasonable time. (Let's say 7 days, i.e the 2nd October 2009). --SriSuren (talk) 02:55, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

Sinhala words of Tamil originTamil Loanwords in Sinhala — In accordance with the terminology used in linguistics, words borrowed from other languages are defined as loanwords. Therefore the title should be changed. See also: Wikipedia's policy on Naming Conventions. --SriSuren (talk) 02:55, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

sure why not ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Taprobanus (talkcontribs)
Since there are no objections to the move I am moving the page to, but without the "Loanword" capitalized (see WP:CAPS). Abecedare (talk) 09:14, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.