Persian: Etymology of bānū ("lady")

< Previous | Next >

Artaxerxes I

Senior Member
German, Persian
Dear forum members,

this has puzzled me for a long time but can anyone please shed light on the etymology of NP. bānū < MP. bānūg - "lady"?

After a long research on the internet i only came across of two conflicting theories regarding its etymology:

1) According to the first one (mentioned here: BĀNŪ – Encyclopaedia Iranica) MP. bānūg is the hypocoristic abbreviation of MP. bānbišn - "queen" < OIr. *dmāna-paθnī - "mistress of the house" (as attested in Av. dəmąnō.paθnī). The semantic shift from "queen" to "lady" is not unlikely but what troubles me is that besides the transliteration bānbišn we have also bāmbišn, but which is the original one? Because i believe that this could be weak link of this theory.

2) According to the second one MP. bānūg continues OIr. *bānūka - "lady", which is reconstructed on basis of the Elamite transcription ba-nu-qa as part of the composition ba-nu-qa(-na-be) translated by Hintz W. as "people of the *bānūka" (see: Altiranisches Sprachgut der Nebenüberlieferungen). However the underlying root is not mentioned, could it be in this case from OIr. *bānu - "sheen, glory" as in the personal name *Ṛta-bānu - "glory of Arta" (> MP/NP. Ardawān)?

Thanks in advance!
Last edited:
  • < Previous | Next >