English is such a wonderful mix of all different languages. Many words in English come from different languages, and we call these words loan words. One language we get many loan words from is Persian. Persian and English are actually related languages, since they’re both part of the Indo-European language family. So it’s no surprise that we share lots of words! Additionally (also), we’re so excited to now be offering Persian lessons with Bespeaking! Because we’re so happy to be offering Persian lessons, we’ve decided to take a look at Persian loan words in English. There are so many great Persian loan words, some of which you may not realize come from Persian. If you’re curious about Persian loan words in English, check out some of our favorites below!
From bāzār (بازار ), meaning “market.”
When I think of the word bazaar, I get an image (picture) in my head of a colorful, open-air (outside) market. This is probably because the word bazaar is a Persian loan word meaning “market.” In the United States, you’ll often see the word bazaar used for many different kinds of markets, either indoors or outdoors. You can find many wonderful things to buy at a bazaar! Have you ever been to one before?
- The church bazaar is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, so come by and take a look at what people are selling!
- There’s a bazaar in the city center this weekend. Do you want to go?
From either the Arabic gharafa (قرافه), meaning “to pour,” or the Persian qarabah (قرابه), meaning “a large flagon.”
Have you ever ordered a carafe of wine at a restaurant before? A carafe is an open-topped glass container that you can serve drinks from. Usually you can order a carafe of wine, which a couple of people will share. Carafe comes to us from Persian as well, where it has a similar meaning.
- Would you like to share a carafe of wine, or should we just order individual glasses?
- “What are you giving them for their wedding?” “We bought them a nice carafe. They love hosting dinner parties, so we thought they would get a lot of use out of it.”
From khaviyar (خاویار), where خیا khaya meaning “egg,” and در dar meaning “bearing, holder.”
This is one of a few Persian loan words that I found quite surprising! I always thought that caviar came to English from either French or Russian, since they are two countries that like to eat caviar. Caviar, which is fish eggs, actually comes to English from Persian, where it means the same thing. Did you know that caviar was actually a Persian word?
- I don’t really like caviar. It’s too salty for me.
- They went out for a fancy dinner to celebrate her new job. They ordered caviar and champagne to start.
From kushk (کوشک), meaning “palace, portico, or pavilion.”
In Hamburg, where I live, we call small stores that are open late at night kiosks, so this is a word I hear and use all the time. These small stores have different names in different regions of Germany, but in the United States, you would call it a convenience store. At a kiosk or a convenience store, you can buy things like snacks, magazines, sodas, or lottery tickets. You usually can’t do your grocery shopping at one, but you can find small snacks and drinks there. The original word for kiosk in Persian meant palace, which is much larger than a kiosk as we know it today!
- Every morning, I buy a cup of coffee and a newspaper at a kiosk on my way to work.
- Is the kiosk still open? I would like to go buy some snacks.
From pajama (پاجامہ) , literally translated as “feet-garments.”
Who doesn’t like hanging out in pajamas? Pajamas, which are clothes for sleeping in, are very comfortable. I love hanging around (being at/staying at) the house in my pajamas on Saturdays and Sundays. We have Persian to thank for the word for these comfortable clothes!
- My parents always give us a new set of pajamas for Christmas. It’s fun to get Christmas-themed pajamas every year!
- Have you seen my pajamas? I’m ready to go to bed.
From dulband (دلبند), meaning “tulip.”
This is another Persian loan word that I found surprising. Because tulips, a type of flower, are so popular in the Netherlands, I thought that we got the word from Dutch. However, our word for tulip comes directly from Persian, where it also describes the tulip flower. Do you like to buy tulips in the spring?
- They decided to go to the Netherlands for their vacation to see the tulips in bloom.
- I love when the tulips start to bloom in my garden in the springtime! They’re my favorite flower.
Did you find any of these Persian loan words surprising? Do you know of any other words in English that come from Persian? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and loves filling her home with tulips in the spring. She also uses many Persian loan words in her day-to-day life!