Tamil: Sanskrit words

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United States (birth country)/India (English, Gujarati)
Hello, could someone tell me some words in Tamil that come from Sanskrit? There aren't really that many Sanskrit words in Tamil but could you tell me those Sanskrit words? Thanks.
  • panjabigator

    Senior Member
    Am. English
    Tamil has undergone a bit of a purification process, in which many words of Sanskritic origin have been purged in favor of Tamil equivalents. I am unaware of any examples off the top of my head, but I'm sure any Tamil on this forum could give you an example.

    I have heard that Brahmin Tamil is very distinct and has a higher number of Sanskritic Tadbhavs (loan words) than does "regular" Tamil.


    United States (birth country)/India (English, Gujarati)
    I know it has gone through a purification process. But on the website langaugeshome.com, under Medium English is Learn Tamil and, in the sentence "He slept well the whole night." The transliteration has rathiriyum and raat in Sanskrit means night so...


    Senior Member
    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Hello, could someone tell me some words in Tamil that come from Sanskrit? There aren't really that many Sanskrit words in Tamil but could you tell me those Sanskrit words? Thanks.
    I have been searching for a list, but I couldn't find none. What I did find made me curious about the background of your Tamil/Sanskrit question:
    On a lot of Hindi (and Hindutva) sites I read that there are 1000s and more Sanskrit words in Tamil. Now, for some Indian 'scholars', everything is to be related to Hindi (or rather to Sanskrit).
    On sites written from, how can I say, the Tamil point of view, the number of Sanskrit words is minimalised. At least, that's my impression...
    Could you please give some extra explanation on the Tamil/Sanskrit issue?




    United States (birth country)/India (English, Gujarati)
    I went to wikipedia and it said that any Sanskrit words that are in Tamil have been restricted to some spiritual terminology and abstract nouns.

    To my knowledge, during the late medieval period, there was a lot of interaction between Tamil and Sanskrit, so many Tamil words came into Sanskrit, and many Sanskrit words came in Tamil.

    But during the 20th century, many people wanted to remove the Sanskrit influence on Tamil as they thought Tamil was more pure than Sanskrit because of their origins and such. Now there are hardly any Sanskrit loan words in Tamil except for a few spiritual terminology and abstract nouns.

    There are also a few loan words from Arabic and many loan words from Portuguese and Dutch.


    Senior Member
    From A.H. Arden: A Progressive Grammar of the Tamil Language. I don't dare to decipher the Tamil script (yet), so I'll just give translations below.

    Arden said:
    From Sanskrit
    Winslow's Dictionary contains 22,000 Primary terms. Of these 8,000 are said to be of Sanskrit origin.
    (i) Religious, philosophical, scientific and artistic terms in Tamil literature are largely Sanskrit.
    (examples: good conduct, justice, mater, dictionary, architecture)
    (ii) Alternatives for Tamil words are often used.
    (examples: father, sun, earth, fish, village, temple)
    From a quick look through Learn Tamil in 30 Days I pick a few examples that look sufficiently close to Sanskrit (for Tamil in the orthography of the book - don't blame me)
    Tamil - English - Sanskrit
    maathaam - month - maas
    varusham - year - varShaH
    latcham - lakh (100,000) - laksha
    pushpam - flower - puShpa
    paththeram - document - pattra 'a leaf for witing on'

    On the other hand,
    T. Burrow: The Sanskrit Language said:
    It is now possible to draw up a considerable list of words in Sanskrit which can be traed either with certinty or with a high degree of probability to a Dravidian origin.
    Five pages of examples follow.


    India, Tamil
    I come from Brahmin heritage.
    And there are many words that come from Sanskrit in our vernacular,
    but even in otherwise regular Tamil as well, there are many Sanskrit borrowed words.
    Lugubert stated that he had many examples.
    There are letters in fact, that are "borrowed' and incorporated under Tamil to make Sanskrit sounds.

    ஜ (ja) ஷ(sha) ஸ(sa, proper) ஹ (ha)

    If you are indeed doing a report on Sanskrit influence, or for other purposes,
    this stuff would provide well.
    Don't hesitate to ask.


    Note: I know, this is an old post. But, for the sake of anyone stumbling on this page I want to set the record straight, so you don't take away incomplete information.

    Tamil and Sanskrit existed side by side for a long time. Like many world langues, t.There was healthy borrowing among each other and developed independently of each other as well. In general, there is actually less Sanskrit in Tamil than neighboring Dravidian languages. But, Tamils tend to mix other languages in their conversations to show their "educatedness". This is so apparent in the Tamingilam style of Tamil today - Tamil mixed with English words and expression - for e.g., Sorry, Naan next weekku varreen. intha answer-leya nerayaa english irrukku.

    Similar thing happened when Sanskrit came down with the Vedic literature from the north. Buddhism and Jainism brought Praakrit (supposedly old Sanskrit) and Paali (the language of the masses) as well. These northern languages got royal patronage and eventually became part of the "educated elite", sort of like Latin becoming the language of the elite in England.

    During such periods, with Sansrit considered elite, mannan, the king, became raajan and amaichar, the minister, became manthiri and many other words in Tamil similarly got Sanskritized. At some point, a new Tamil style called, Mani Pravaalam, came into existence, where Sanskrit was mixed in, sort of, what is happening with Tamingilam now. Traditionally, Tamil allowed borrowing of foreign words (see tholkaappiyam), only with a transliteration per Tamil Grammar rules, like you see in Japanese and Korean. These rules were thrown out, with the advent of Mani Pravaalam style.

    Words like aatchi - government (root aaL - rule) became aakshi with the introduction of Sanskrit "ksha" compound. Same with, kaatchi - scene (root: kaaN - see). And, Tamil words got replaced with equivalent Sanskrit words - for e.g., people who were drinking niir (water) started drinking theertham (water in Sanskrit). There are 1000s of words replaced like this. In daily conversation, you can hear, nalam -> sowkyam - (I am) well, makizhchi -> santhoosham - happiness etc. Here iravu - night became raathiri as well. Considering iruL, iravu, irumpu (iron) all refer to the color black or dark, even rathiri may be of Tamil root, but that's beside the point.

    This later replacement of Tamil words with Sanskrit layer definitely created a false image that Tamil contains lot more Sanskrit than it actually did. The fact is, Tamil could live without such imposed foreign words, if we revived the original vocabulary. This is what the Tamil purists have been fighting for decades, not that I agree with them 100%. I think, I see parallels of these efforts in the reforming of Turkish language.

    Disclaimer: I am not for or against the Sanskritists or the Tamil purists. Simply stating the facts here. Being from India I am proud of the contributions of both the languages in the literary landscape of India.
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    mexerica feliz

    Senior Member
    português nordestino
    Sri Lankan Tamil was mostly not affected by purification/deSanskritization of Indian Tamil,
    that's why you will find Sri Lankan Tamils prefer sandiran for moon over nila.

    A language can be heavily Sanskritized, yet distinctively Dravidian,
    examples: Malayalam and Telugu.

    In fact, the least Sanskritized language in colloquial use is colloquial Hindi (also known as Hindustani),
    people would rather die than utter pustak (instead of kitab) or hriday (instead of dil). In spoken Hindi, it's the Urdu/Arabic/Persian-loans what it's considered cute and poetic.
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    Shyam Krishnan

    New Member
    Tamil, Malayalam
    Tamil has 100s of words from Sanskrit. Both languages have existed in the same land mass for 1000s of years barely separated by 1000 kilometers or so . So how can both remain isolated ? The following are the sanskrit derived words in tamil which I can say right now . Explanation of relation / origin is provided in brackets

    amma ( From sanskrit mata . Original tamil word tai is depreciated ) , raja (Original tamil word mannan is no longer used) , dooram ( Hindi word door for distance) , varam ( same as var in Hindia for week ) , dinam ( Same as din in Hindi) , masam ( fo / mahina ) , saukyam ( Same as Sukh in Hindi ) , suryan ( Sury , Sun ) , Chandran ( Hind: Chand ) . Also most modern day tamil first names are of Sanskrit origin due to religious reasons . More sanskrit dervied words: sansaram ( Hindi Sansar ) , Padkarathu ( Hindi Padna for learning) , mama ( Same as Hindi Mama ) , papam ( Hindi Pap of religious origin ), nasam ( Hindi word Nash ) , Manithan ( Hindi : Manushy) , Meen ( Sanskrit: Matsya. This could be a world from Tamil to Sanskrit , the other way around) , Kavitai ( Hindi Kavita for poem)

    Since both languages are old, it is quiet obvious that a lot of borrowings of words has ocurred. Some borrowing of syntax and script has also ocurred between both languages.

    The current anti hindi attitude prevalent among some Tamilians is purely of Political origin and has no historical basis. The names Karuna Nidhi and Jaya lalitha , both super heads of dravidian parties , are sansrit words ,which proves the base lesssnes of these political movements.

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