India and the Northwest Frontier

Note: Many British military slang words had an Indian origin and spread from there throughout the world. In this list, I put words that I think might have been used by either British or Indians or words that were specific to India.  In the British list, I put those words and phrases that were Anglicized and that I think Indians would not have used, such as pukka sahib. This is a purely subjective placement and very likely full of errors. I could place certain words in both lists, but that, too, would likely be wrong, while placing them in one list requires less effort.

akhond

Afghanistan religious teacher

amir

Afghanistan military/political commander

angarka

Afghanistan loose, white robe

anna Coin worth 1/16th of a rupee

arbab

Afghanistan leader

babu or baboo Hindu gentleman or clerk. As an insult, an Indian who has some English education. (Hindi babu, father)

badmash

Scoundrel

bahadur Term of respect (Hindi for champion)
bandobast Organization, a battalion (Hindi)
barra Great, large--opposite of chota

batta

Special pay for Indian sepoys stationed outside India

Bengal Army

The most prestigious of the four British Indian armies.

bhang Hemp, hashish (Hindi bhag)

bobbajee

British name for an Indian cook.

Bombay Army

One of the four original British Indian armies.

bungalow One-storied house with a low-pitched roof (Hindi bangla, "in the Bengal style")
cantonments Permanent British military bases usually located just outside of a town or city

chadar

Cloak

cha (or char) Tea
cha wallah Hot tea seller

chaplies

Sandals

Chitrali

A non-Pathan Afghanistan tribe known for treachery, greed, and cruelty.

choola Cooking place, clay oven
chota Small, opposite of barra
cutch, kutcha Inferior, crude, the opposite of pukka

dafadar

Indian cavalry sergeant

dhobi Washing

dhodie

Indian bearers

dhoolie

Medical stretcher. Also, a light litter often used for carrying the sick or wounded

dhoti Loincloth wore by some men in India (Hindi dhoti)
durwan Doorman

fakir

Indian holy man, wonder worker (Arabic faqIr, poor man)

Ghazi

Afghanistan Fighter for the Faith, fanatic

ghi, ghee Clarified butter, used as cooking oil (Hindi ghi, from Sanskrit ghrta)

goralog

Afghanistan name for Europeans

grass widow A married woman at a British hill-station temporarily separated from her husband who was on assignment elsewhere.

Great Game, The

British idea that Russia was secretly trying to invade India by way of Afghanistan. It created a cold-war mentality.

Gurkha

Mercenary soldier in the British army, from Nepal.

haramzadas Bastards, scoundrels, a common term in India (of Arabic/Persian origin)

havildar

Indian infantry sergeant

havildar major

Indian infantry color sergeant

hazar "Get ready."
Howdah Pistol Very large pistol (usually .60 cal. and up) intended for close-quarters use against tigers. Breech-loaders or muzzleloaders, usually single or multi-barreled, but occasionally revolvers. Carried in the howdah of a hunting elephant, and also by European officers who doubted the efficacy of service revolvers on fanatic native warriors.

hubshi

Negro, woolly-head,  (Hindustani, from Arabic habashi, Persian habshi)

huzoor

Lord (Pushtu)

idderao

Come here

jao

Go away

jawan

Soldier

jemadar

Indian junior officer (subaltern, 2nd lieutenant)

jezail

Afghanistan very long musket

jihad or jehad

Holy war for Islam (Arabic)

jirga

Afghanistan assembly of tribal leaders

John Company

Honorable East India Company, founded in 1599 and which governed India from 1833-1858

juldi

Hurry up

Kabul

The capital city of Afghanistan

kali-pani Ocean (Hindi black water)

khabadar

Be careful

khak

Persian for dust or dirt, root word for khaki.

Khalsa Literally "the Pure"; the Sikh Army

khan

Afghanistan chieftain or prince (related to Turkish han prince)

khansamah Butler

khel

Afghanistan for clan

khud Anglo-Indian for steep hillside or cliff

Khyber Pass

33 mile long mountain pass between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

kila Castle 

Kot daffadar

Indian cavalry color sergeant

kotal

Afghanistan mountain pass

krait A small but very venomous nocturnal snake (Hindi karait)

kullah

Afghanistan pointed cap

lal pagriwalas

Afghanistan name for Sikhs (red turbaned)

lance daffadar

Indian cavalry corporal

lashkar

Tribal grouping of armed men, army

lungi

Afghanistan sash

Madras Army

The oldest of the four British Indian armies.

mahout

Indian elephant driver (Hindi mahawat, mahaut)

maidan

Flat area, parade ground

majoon Green sweetmeat containing bhang (hashish)

malik

Afghanistan headman

martial classes, the

Those natives the British considered to be good warriors: Sikhs, Pathans, Gurkhas, etc.

memsahib

European woman in India (Hindi, from English ma'am + Hindi sahib sahib)

Mujhaddin

Afghanistan fanatic sect called Warriors of God.

mullah

Afghanistan educated religious leader (Arabic mawla)

munshi

Language teacher

naik

Indian corporal

nautch A type of Indian dance performed by women, also used for a European ball or formal dance

nullah

Small valley or ravine, dry watercourse

Pakhtunwali

The Pathan code of honor. Warriors must follow it or risk being ostracized.

paltan Battalion, military unit

Pathan

Afghanistan tribe (Hindi from Pashto Pakhtun)

pani

Water (Hindi)

pani wallah

Water carrier

pongelow

Beer

poshteen

Afghanistan sheepskin coat with hair worn on the inside

puggarree

Cloth wrapped around turban

pukka Excellent, opposite of cutch or kuctha
pundit A learned man, (Hindi pandit, from Sanskrit pandita, from pandita learned)

Punjab

The region running from NW India into Pakistan

punkah A fan in India consisting of a canvas-covered frame suspended from the ceiling and operated by a cord (Hindi pakha)
purdah Literally, "one who sits behind a curtain". The seclusion of Muslim and some Hindu women. (Hindi parda, literally, screen, veil) 
razzia Attack on unbelievers

rissaldar

Indian cavalry officer (1st lieutenant)

rissaldar-major

Senior Indian cavalry officer

rupee

Indian currency (Hindi rupaiya from Sanskrit rupya, coined silver)

sahib

Sir or master--used to address Europeans (Hindi saheb, from Arabic sahib)

sangar

Temporary shallow fortifications, normally built of loose stone.

screw gun British - A light artillery gun [2.75 inch - 70mm] of the Indian Artillery that could be taken apart for easier transport by mules and then reassembled when needed. Especially useful in mountainous or other bad terrain.. Used in India and the Northwest Frontier during colonial days, and in the invasion of Mesopotamia during the Great War.

sepoy

Indian infantryman in an European army (Portuguese sipai, from Hindi sipahi, cavalryman)

shabash!

Bravo, a cry of admiration

Sikh

Follower of a monotheistic Indian religion (Hindi meaning disciple)

silladar

Indian cavalryman who provided his own equipment

sirdar Hereditary noble or other person of high rank (Hindi sardar, from Persian)
Sirkar the British government in India, the head of domestic government

sowar

Indian cavalryman

subedar

Indian infantry officer (1st lieutenant)

subedar-major

Senior Indian infantry officer

suttee Widow burning. Hindu widow who chose to be cremated on the funeral pyre of her husband as an indication of her devotion to him (Sanskrit sati wife who performs suttee, literally, devoted woman, from feminine of sat true, good; akin to Old English soth, true)

Swatis

Afghanistan tribe

syce Attendant or groom (Hindi sais, from Arabic sa'is)
Thug Literally, deceiver. Worshippers of Kali who ritually murdered travelers, usually with a cloth scarf (thugee cord). (Hindi thag, thief)
tonga Small two-wheeled cart drawn by a pony
top khana Artillery battery
veranda Roofed open gallery attached to the exterior of a building (Hindi varanda)
wallah Person associated with an activity--for example, dhoolie wallah for stretcher bearer
zamindar A minor landlord in British India paying the government a fixed revenue (Hindi zamindar, from Persian, from zamin land + -dar holder)

zar, zan, zamin

Gold, land, women - things to fight for in Afghanistan.

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