Have you ever stopped to think about the roots of some of our most common words in English? The English language is rich with vocabulary borrowed from other languages introduced via trade and cultural contact. Persian, like English, is an Indo-European language with grammar and cognate words similar to many contemporary European languages. What many of us don’t realize is that the Persian language has influenced English in a significant way, contributing some of our most frequently used words.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of some English words you might be surprised to know come from Persian.
Checkmate – The game of chess originated in Persia and so it only makes sense that the word checkmate would come from the Persian shāh-māt (شاه مات), meaning the king is helpless or stunned.
Pistachio – The pistachio tree is native to Iran and the English term is derived from the Persian word pesteh (پسته).
Pajamas – You know, the garment you wear to bed every night! The word pajama comes from the Persian word pā (پا) meaning foot or leg and jāma (جامه) meaning garment.
Bazaar – A direct loan word from Persian (بازار), meaning market or marketplace.
Khaki – This word meaning a yellowish brown color, comes from khākī (خاکی) an adjective for khāk or dirt in Persian.
Spinach – This edible green originated in modern day Iran, as does the English word for it. The Persian word is esfināj (اسفناج) a corruption of the original word, espināj.
Candy – A favorite word of children and adults alike, it originates from the Persian word for crystallized sugar, qand (قند).
Lemon – This word of Persian origin was introduced to English via Arabic and Old French. The original Persian is līmū (لیمو).
Do you know of any more English words borrowed from Persian? Let us know at Editor@Barakabits.com or leave a comment below!