Tamil Tribune

Creation of Tamil Words from Early River Valley Civilization to Modern Technological Age

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, July 2010 (ID. 2010-07-01)
Updated: June 2015
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1. Early River Valley Civilization and the Multiple Meanings of the Word Aaru

The Tamil word aaru (ஆறு) has multiple meanings including river, way (path) and home. An analysis of the inter-relationships between these meanings provides us some interesting insight into early Tamil civilization and the growth of Tamil language.


In the early years of humanity, people lived a semi-nomadic life, moving from one place to another in search of food and good living conditions. At least some Tamil groups lived along riverbanks. They had their homes (likely small temporary shelters/huts) along riverbanks and moved periodically along the river. Rivers and the fertile land near rivers provided fish, fruits and vegetables. Riverbanks are also good hunting ground because animals came to the river for water.

Way or Path

Since people moved along the river (aaru), the word aaru was also used to refer to the "way" or "path". Today the word aaru is used mostly to refer to river and the meaning "way" is almost lost. But it was in use as late as at least 2000 years ago during the days of the Third Tamil Academy (Third Tamil Sangam). There was a class of Tamil poems in that era called "aattuppadai" (ஆற்றுப்படை). These poems were written as if the poet is telling another poet, bard or minstrel the way to his favorite patron who generously rewards poets, bards, minstrels and other artists. Examples of this class of poems from that era are Porunaraattupadai, Perumpanaattupadai and Sirupanaattupadai. A variation of aattuppadai is the poet telling devotees the way to god. An example of this type of poems is Thiru Murugaatupadai.


In this context, we also look into the Tamil word varalaaru (வரலாறு); it means history. What is the etymology of the word varalaaru? Varal (வரல்) means "coming" and aaru (ஆறு) means "way". So varalaaru means "the way we came" - history.


The third meaning of aaru is "home". As we mentioned earlier, people lived by the riverbank in small huts/shelters. They went away from these hurts to collect food and hunt, and returned back in the evening towards their home by the river. Thus the word aaru was also used to refer to home. Very few people use the word aaru to refer to home today except for some Tamil Brahmins. They still use the age old word aaaru to refer to home.

Final Remarks

Thus the three meanings of the word aaru give us insight into the early life of Tamil people. It also shows that Tamil is a natural language in which words evolved naturally from the day-to-day life of the people. [Summary: Tamil civilization along riverbanks and the natural evolution of their language.] 

2. Origin of the Tamil Words Voor and Nagar

In Section 1, we discussed the different meaning of the word aaru and their relationship to early Tamil settlements along riverbanks. Here we discuss the words voor (ஊர் - village) and nagar (நகர் - town) that might also be related to riverbank settlements.

Some rivers flooded annually during rainy season and riverbank settlements (group of huts on riverbanks) have to move back away from the river. Then as dry season returned people moved their settlement back to riverbanks whose soil is now fertile from the sediments brought in by flood. This phenomenon is well recorded in the history of Nile valley. Similar back and forth movements might have occurred on rivers in Tamil areas also. One meaning of the Tamil word "voor" is crawl (or move slowly). Since the settlements moved back and forth, as noted above, the settlements were called "voor"; thus the word "voor" for village (group of huts). Naming an object based on their actions is not uncommon. For example, the noun kuthirai (horse) came from the verb kuthi (jump).

Our hypothesis that the word "voor" for villages came from its meaning "crawl (move slowly)" is reinforced by the Tamil word "nagar" (town). Another meaning of the word "nagar" is "move". Towns are, of course, large villages. So people might have chosen the word nagar (move) which is similar to voor (crawl) in its meaning.

[Author's Note: Etymology of the words voor and nagar are not mine. I read it in some Tamil article many years ago. I do not remember the author's name. Credit should go to whom credit is due. I merely present them here within the context of our article on early Tamil settlements along rivers.]

3. Etymology of the Word Vooruni

In the two previous sections we examined the origin of the words aaru (ஆறு - river), voor (ஊர் - village) and nagar (நகர் - town), and discussed how they give insight into how Tamil people lived along riverbanks. In this section we examine the etymology of the word vooruni (ஊருணி - water pond). This word might have come into usage years later as people expanded further away from rivers and established villages in the interior.

The Tamil word "vooruni" refers to deep ponds (usually man made ponds). In old times, villagers dug a common pond near the center of the village so villagers may get drinking water from it. The word vooruni was coined to refer to these ponds. Voor means village. "Vun (un)" (உண்) means eat (and by extension it may also refer to drink). So the word vooruni means "from which the village drinks". (voor + vuni  = vooruni) (ஊர் + உணி = ஊருணி)

Thus the word vooruni tells us something about the way Tamil people lived. You will find this word in Thirukural written about 2000 years ago. You also find it in use today, especially in southern districts of Tamil Nadu (Thirunelveli District, Kanyakumari District). Today voorunis are not used for drinking water. They are used for watering plants and trees. Also, most of them are not common property of the village but are privately owned by landowners and there may be several voorunis in a village.

4. Etymology of the Words Paeran and Paeththi

Tamil words, especially early Tamil words, tell us about the customs of the way Tamil people lived because these are not borrowed words but words that grew out of everyday living. In this section we discuss how the words paeran (பேரன்) and paeththi (பேத்தி) tell us something about the Tamil custom of naming children.

In western countries a son or daughter has the same last name (primary name) as the father. Most daughters take the last name of the husband after marriage. Tamil custom is entirely different and it is embedded in the words paeran and paeththi. Parents give a last name (primary name) to their children soon after birth. It is almost invariably different from father's last name. Also, every child will be given a different last name. Although it is not a requirement, quite often the last name of a child is the same as or similar to the name of a grandparent (either grandfather or grandmother, either paternal or maternal).  For example, if grandfather's name is Chelliah, a grandson may be named Chelliah or Chelvan or Chellappan, etc. Granddaughter may be named Chellamma or Chelvi, etc.

This Tamil custom of grandchildren taking their names from a grandparent is reflected in the Tamil words for grandson and granddaughter. Grandson is called paeran (பேரன்). This is a mild mutation of the original word peyaran (பெயரன்). Peyar (பெயர்) means name and "an" is a suffix for male nouns. So peyaran is a male who takes the name (of a grandparent). Granddaughter is called paeththi (பேத்தி). This is a mutation of the original word peyarththi (பெயர்த்தி). Peyar means name and "i" is a suffix for female nouns.

5. Etymology of the Word PuL

In the previous sections we discussed the words aaru, voor, nagar and vooruni, and their relationship to how Tamil people lived along riverbanks in the earliest years and then in small villages. Then we discussed the etymology of paeran and paeththi and how these words give insight about the Tamil custom of naming children. In this section we discuss how the word "puL" (புள் - bird) shows Tamil people's understanding of bird biology centuries ago and how they used that knowledge to create a new word.

The Tamil word "puL" (புள்) for bird also has another meaning "empty" or "hollow". 

puL (புள்) - puLLi (புள்ளி) means dot; the character dot is essentially an empty character, just a point.

puL (புள்) - poL (பொள்) - ponthu (பொந்து) means tunnel-like hole in the ground (for example eli ponthu (எலிப் பொந்து) = rat's role; eli = rat) or  hole in a tree trunk (mara ponthu (மரப்பொந்து) = hole or hollow in a tree; maram = tree). A male who eats a lot is derisively called "ponthan (பொந்தன்)" (meaning that he has a hollow stomach that needs to be filled with lots of food). Ponthi (பொந்தி) is the female-form of the word ponthan.

puL (புள்) - poL (பொள்) - pokku (பொக்கு) - pokkai (பொக்கை) means emptiness or hollow. A mouth with no teeth is called "pokku vaai (பொக்கு வாய்)" or "pokkai vaai (பொக்கை வாய்); vaai - mouth.

Now that we have established that the Tamil word puL means hollow, why are birds called puL? It has to do with Tamil people's understanding of the the physical structure or biology of birds. This is what the Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia says: "Birds have many bones that are hollow ... The number of hollow bones varies among species, though large gliding and soaring birds tend to have the most." Tamils called birds "puL" because many bird bones are hollow.

By the way, the most widely used Tamil word for bird is paRavai (பறவை). PaRa (பற) means fly. Similarly Tamil word for horse is kuthirai (குதிரை). Kuthi (குதி) means jump. A name for parrots is thaththai (தத்தை). Thaththu (தத்து) means hop.

6. Creation of the Words Varikkuthirai and Vaankozhi

As time passed by and Tamil civilization progressed, Tamil people traveled to far away lands and people from other lands visited Tamil lands. Tamil people came across new animals, birds and plants for which there are no Tamil words or names. Instead of borrowing words from other languages, they chose to coin pure Tamil words in most cases. Here are couple of examples. These words came into play several hundred years ago, may be over a thousand years.

Varikkuthirai (வரிக்குதிரை  - Zebra)

Zebra is an animal that looks almost like a horse in size and shape but have black and white strips on their skin. Zebra is not native to Tamil Nadu and there was no name for it in Tamil. It was brought into Tamil Nadu from some other country. Tamils called them varikkuthirai. This is a composition of two Tamil words vari and kuthirai: vari (வரி) - strip or line, kuthirai (குதிரை) - horse. This way of creating new names instead of borrowing foreign names have great advantage. Let us say that a Tamil person has read the word or has heard the word "zebra"; then he/she sees a zebra in a zoo or elsewhere. He/she would not put the name and the animal together unless he/she had read a description and remembers it. Now consider a Tamil person who has read or heard the name varikkuthirai. As soon as he/she sees a zebra he/she knows that it is a varikkuthirai. Remembering the name varikkuthirai is far easier than remembering the word zebra. This is the advantage of creating new Tamil names for new things as opposed to borrowing from other languages. In this case the process of creating a suitable Tamil name is simple; just combine two appropriate existing Tamil words. There are other methods for coining new words too. Example: paeran from peyar (see Section 4 for details)

Vaankozhi (வான்கோழி  - Turkey)

Turkey is a bird that looks like chicken but much larger. This bird is not native to Tamil Nadu and when it entered Tamil Nadu (possibly brought in by merchants), Tamils called it vaankozhi. This is also a composition of two Tamil words vaan and kozhi: vaan (வான்) - vanam (வனம்) - jungle, kozhi (கோழி) - chicken. They called it jungle chicken because turkey is much bigger than chicken and seem undomesticated. As with varikkuthirai, the name vaankozhi is also far easier to remember than the foreign word turkey.


We have explained how new names were created from existing Tamil words for new things and how easier it is to remember such names. At the time of this writing, early 21st century, there is a trend among Tamil writers to use foreign words for new things that enter Tamil society from other countries. Writers, teachers and scholars should reconsider this trend and go back to the way how our ancestors created new words and names from existing Tamil words or Tamil root words. May be a basic knowledge of this should be included in Tamil curriculum in high schools and colleges.

7. Creation of the Words Pukai Vandi and Tholai Pesi

Europeans came to Tamilnadu as traders and then settled down as colonial rulers for well over a century. Along with the Europeans came many products of industrial age. Again, in most cases, Tamil people created new words and names for them instead of using the European names. Here are a few examples. 

Pukai vandi, thodar vandi (புகை வண்டி, தொடர் வண்டி  - train)

One of the industrial age products that came into Tamilnadu was trains. Of course there was no name for this novel mode of transport in Tamil. All trains used coal in those early years, and smoke came out of the engine. Like a cart (bullock cart) or carriage (horse-drawn carriage), which the Tamil people were familiar, trains also transported goods and people. So Tamil people called it pukai vandi. pukai - smoke, vandi - cart. Easy to remember; one need not have to memorize this name as is the case with the foreign name "train". Those Tamils who have studied in English may say, it is not difficult to remember train. What about people who do not know English? Tamil words and names should be "self-descriptive" and understandable to Tamils, even to those who do not know other languages.

Train is also called thodar vandi; it means series of carts or serial cart. thodar - series or serial, vandi - cart.

Minsaaram (மின்சாரம் - Electricity)

Electricity is another product that came during European rule. Early domestic use of electricity was to light houses and streets. So the Tamil word minsaaram was coined. Min (மின்) - light, saaram (சாரம்) - root or the crux of a matter. Minnal (மின்னல்) means lightning. Minmini poochchi (மின்மினிப் பூச்சி) is light bug.

Tholai pesi (தொலை பேசி  - Telephone)

Tholai - distant, pesi - speaker. So tholai pesi is an equipment used to speak to people far away.

Nadai pesi (நடை பேசி - Cell phone, mobile phone)

Many decades later, just around the beginning of the twenty first century, came cell phones. Again Tamil scholars rose to the task and coined a Tamil word for it, "nadai pesi".

Nadai - walk, pesi - speaker. Cell phone is something many people use nowadays to walk and talk (although you can use it while sitting also). What a great name! It shows how meaningful new words and names can be created if we spend some time on it.

Another Tamil word for cell phone (mobile phone) is sell pesi (செல் பேசி). Don't think that we are simply using the Englsh word cell in Tamil. No. Sell (செல்) means move or go. For example "viN selavu" (விண் செலவு) means space travel. So "sell pesi" (செல் பேசி) is a clever creation of a Tamil word for mobile phone.

[Author's Note: Etymology of the words voor, vooruni, puL and some of the other words presented here is not mine. I read them in some Tamil articles many years ago. I do not remember authors' names. Credit should go to whom credit is due. I merely present them here within the context of my series of articles on how pure Tamil words are coined from the earliest years to modern times.]

8. Tamil Words for the New Political System

As the second half of the twentieth century approached, British rule was ending and a new political system (democracy) was coming into play. Again Tamil people created new words associated with modern democracy imported from the west. Here are a few examples.

MakkaLaadchi (மக்களாட்சி) - Democracy

MakkaLaadchi - Democracy [mallaL (மக்கள்) - people, aadchi (ஆட்சி) - governance or government]. This word clearly says what democracy is: government of the people, government by the people. Another great word coined to represent a new form of government that came into our society.

There is also another word for democracy--kudiyaadchi, It is not much in use today. The word makkaLaadchi is far more widely used and it shall remain so. We just document here the basis for the word kudiyaadchi. Kudiyaadchi (குடியாட்சி) [kudi (குடி) - resident, aadchi (ஆட்சி) - governance or government]. So democracy is government of the residents. The word kudi is at the root of words meaning residence and settlement. kudisai (குடிசை) - a small house in which people reside. kudiyiruppu (குடியிருப்பு) - settlement. There is village in Tamilnadu called "Puthiya Kudiyiruppu" (New Settlement) [புதிய - new]. Nowadays kudimakkal (குடி மக்கள்) means citizens [[kudi (குடி) - resident, makkal (மக்கள்) - people]. People who reside in a country (permanently) are called citizens of the country. A related phrase for democratic government is kudiyarasu (குடியரசு) [arasu (அரசு) - government. kudi + arasu = kudiyarasu; குடி + அரசு = குடியரசு]. There is some "poetic beauty" in the word Kudiyaadchi. The Tamil word for royal government (government by a king) is mudiyaadchi (முடியாட்சி) [mudi (முடி) - crown, aadchi (ஆட்சி) - governance or government]. There is close phonetic similarity between the two words kudiyaadchi and mudiyaadchi and thus the "beauty" of the newly coined word kudiyaadchi.

NaadaLumandram (நாடாளுமன்றம்)- parliament

NaadaLumandram - parliament [naadu (நாடு) - country, aaLum (ஆளும்) - govern, mandram (மன்றம்) - group or club; so naadaLumandram means group that governs the country]. What an apt word! In the 1950s the Tamil word "paaraaLumandram" (பாராளுமன்றம்) was used for parliament. It means "group that governs the world" [paar (பார்) - world, aaLum (ஆளும்) - govern, mandram (மன்றம்) - group or club]. This term is rather a misnomer because parliament usually makes laws to govern a country,  not the entire world. Initially this word "paaraaLumandram" was used because it sounded somewhat close to "parliament". But people realized that it is a misnomer and changed to "naadaLumandram".

Thaerthal (தேர்தல்) - election

Thaerthal - election. The newly coined word is from the already existing Tamil words thaer (தேர்) and thaervu (தேர்வு). thaer - select, thaervu - selection. The new word  thaerthal (a slight change of  thaer and thaervu) was used to represent the new political process "election". Election is of course the selection of people's representatives.

The way this word "thaerthal" is coined shows that we do not always combine two or more existing Tamil words to come up with a new word but we may slightly change existing words to represent new processes and things. This mode of creating new words is not new. Our ancestors have generated thousands of words by this process. For example, kuthirai (குதிரை) (horse) from kuthi (குதி - jump), paRavai (பறவை) (bird) from paRa (பற- fly), oadam (ஓடம்) (boat) from oadu (ஓடு - run) [boat "runs" on water], also oadai (ஓடை) (small canal) from oadu (ஓடு- run) [water runs through the canal]. Another way, possibly a better way, to look at is that several words originate from a common root word [see for example, Reference 1],

Vaakku (வாக்கு) - vote (noun)

Vaakku - vote (noun). When large numbers of people vote to elect people to legislatures, parliaments or city council, they vote by marking their preferences in a piece of paper or electronically. When a small group of people gathered together vote on an issue (for example, members of a club voting on by-laws of the club), they vote by saying "yes" or "no"; in other words, they vote by their say. Tamil word for "say (noun)" is vaaku (வாக்கு). So vote (noun) = vaaku. vote (verb) = vaakkaLi (வாக்களி). vaakku + aLi = vaakkaLi. aLi (அளி) - give. So vaakkaLi is "give the vote" or "cast the vote". By the way, the word vaaku comes from the word vaai (வாய்) = mouth. vaai + ku -- vaakku (ku is just an additional syllable added to create the new word vaakku.

Pothuvudamai kadchi (பொதுவுடமைக் கட்சி) - Communist party 

Pothuvudamai kadchi - Communist party [pothu (பொது) - common, vudamai (உடமை) - ownership, kadchi (கட்சி) - party]. The basic motto of communist parties is common ownership of properties (as opposed to private ownership).

Nikaramai kadchi (நிகரமைக் கட்சி) - Socialist party

Nikaramai kadchi - Socialist party [nikar (நிகர்) - equal, amai (அமை) - construct or establish, nikaramai (நிகரமை)- equalize, kadchi (கட்சி) - party]. The basic goal of socialist parties is to equalize economic disparities in society.

9. Tamil Words for the New Educational System

Tamil Nadu, under British rule, saw the introduction of the western style educational system. More schools were started and a university (University of Madras) along with several affiliated colleges in major towns were opened. A second university (Annamalai University) was launched many years later. Medium of instruction was exclusively English and all terminologies associated with the university education system were in English. With the rise of Tamil nationalism, especially with the rise of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, many Tamil words were introduced near the middle of the twentieth century. New Tamil words were introduced for university, college, professor, lecturer, etc.

Palkalaikkazhakam (பல்கலைக்கழகம் - University)  

Some people called "university" as sarvakalaasaalai (சர்வகலாசாலை) before the 1950s or so. sarva (சர்வ ) - all, kala (கலா ) - arts, saalai (சாலை ) - institution or institute. This is not a pure Tamil word; it has its origin in Sanskrit. Tamil scholars introduced the pure Tamil word palkalaikkazhagam (பல்கலைக்கழகம்) and it stuck Pal (பல் ) - many, kalai (கலை ) - arts, kazhakam (கழகம் ) - group or organization). Today people either say university or palkalaikkazhagam; sarvakalaasaalai has lost currency.

Kalloori (கல்லூரி - College)

The word kalloori is created from the root word kal (கல்) - study. College is a place of study.

Paeraasiriyar (பேராசிரியர் - Professor)

Paer (பேர் ) - great, Aasiriyar (ஆசிரியர் )  - teacher.

Virivuraiyaalar (விரிவுரையாளர் - Lecturer)

Virivu (விரிவு ) - detailed or  broad; vurai (உரை ) - speech or lecture); uraiyaalar (உரையாளர் ) - speaker or lecturer.

10. Tamil Words in Medicine

Tamil Nadu, under British rule, also got introduced to western medicine. As in the other fields, as discussed in the preceding sections, Tamil people coined new words and phrases for western medical terms. Here are a couple of examples.

Thaduppusi (தடுப்பூசி - Vaccination)

The concept of vaccinations to prevent diseases was something new to Tamil society. Almost all vaccinations are through injections. So Tamil people coined the word thaduppusi (தடுப்பூசி) for vaccinations. What is the purpose of vaccination? To prevent disease. The Tamil word thaduppu (தடுப்பு) means prevention or stopping. How is the vaccination done? Though a needle (injection). The Tamil word voosi (ஊசி ) means needle. Thus the word thaduppusi ((தடுப்பூசி = தடுப்பு + ஊசி) for vaccination. What an ingenious way of coining a meaningful word for something newly introduced to the Tamil people.

Puttu noi (புற்று நோய் - Cancer)

Cancer is called puttu noi (புற்று நோய்) in Tamil. Noi (நோய்) means disease. What is putttu? Erumpu puttu (எறும்புப் புற்று) means "ant mount" in which erumpu (எறும்பு) means ant. Puttu (புற்று) is the mount that erumpu builds. If one looks at a cancerous tissue, it in fact has an irregular structure like an ant mount. An insightful coinage of a new medical term in Tamil.

11. Tamil Words in Information Technology

Information technology (IT) is a new field of science and technology of the later part of the twentieth century and currently. Thousands of new technical terms entered the English language. Information technology became part of education, business and leisure activities around the world. While many Tamils mixed the English technical terms into Tamils, others coined new Tamil technical terms and used them. If we browse through Tamil websites on the Internet, we would see some sites mixing English technical terms with Tamil while others using pure Tamil words. 

Here are some examples of Tamil words in information technology.

Computer - kaNippoRi (கணிப்பொறி). It is a combination of two words: kaNi - compute, calculate, poRi - machine.

Web site - valai thaLam (வலைத் தளம்) .  valai - net, thaLam - site.

Chat room - arattai arangam (அரட்டை அரங்கம்).  arattai - gossip, chat; arangam - large room.

Hardware - vanporul (வன்பொருள்). van - hard, porul - thing.

Software - menporul (மென்பொருள்). men - soft, porul - thing.

Compact disc (CD) - kuRunthattu (குறுந்தட்டு). (kuRum - small, thattu - plate.

Mouse - sutti (சுட்டி). This comes from the Tamil word suttu (சுட்டு) that means "point (verb)". Here we do not literally translate mouse to the equivalent Tamil word suNdeli (சுண்டெலி). Instead we have created a word from suttu (point) because the mouse is used to point to words or pictures and click on them.

Some people ask me, "Why create Tamil words? Why not just use the English words?" There are now computer centers or Internet centres in villages. There are people who do not know English; some of them do access the Internet. These people would easily remember the word sutti but not mouse; would easily remember arattai arangam but not chat room, would easily remember kuRunthattu but not compact disc or CD. Put yourself in their place. You will understand the need for Tamil words.

We do not underplay the importance of English. People who have to work and communicate in English should know English technical terms. But, as indicated in the previous paragraph, it is better to use Tamil words when you have to communicate in Tamil. Those of us who know both English and Tamil, and have to communicate in English or Tamil as the occasion warrants, should know both English and Tamil technical terms. We know the Tamil word "ammaa" (அம்மா) and the corresponding English word "mother". We use the former when talking in Tamil and the latter when talking in English. The same applies to technical terms too. Commenting on the preparation of engineering book in Tamil, K. Pitchai wrote, "All technical terms in Tamil engineering books should be in Tamil, with the English terms in Roman script printed next in parenthesis" [Reference 2]. This suggestion is good for any field of science and technology.

12. Tamil Words for the Twenty First Century

During the last decades of the twentieth century and as we entered the twenty first century, many new things and concepts, most of them from the West, entered into our life. As usual Tamil people and scholars have coined new Tamil words for these new objects. Here are a few examples.

Readymade clothes (readymade dress) - aayaththa aNi (ஆயத்த அணி). aayaththam - being ready, aNi - dress. The noun aNi comes from the verb aNi (wear)).

Readymade clothing store - aayaththa aNi angkaadi (ஆயத்த அணி அங்காடி) or aayaththa aNi kadai (ஆயத்த அணிக் கடை). angkaady - market; here it is extended to refer to store also. Another word for store is kadai. "aayaththa aNi angkaadi" - What a great name for a readymade clothes store! Yet I have seen this name used in the name board of only a few stores. Most other stores just use "Readymade Clothing Store" written in both Tamil script and Roman (English) script. My suggestion for them is to use "aayaththa aNi angkaadi" in Tamil script and "Readymade Clothing Store" in Roman script. Actually there are laws that require stores and businesses to put Tamil name boards; Chennai City Corporation made an effort to implement this law in 2010. Yet many stores continue to write the English name in both Tamil and Roman (English) script. Tamil Nadu State government had prepared a set of pure Tamil words and distributed it to stores.

Cooking gas - samaiyal vaLi (சமையல் வளி). samaiyal - cooked food, cooking; vaLi - gas, wind. It pains me to see some popular Tamil newspapers just write "cooking gas" in Tamil script instead of samaiyal vaLi. Consider a village housewife who has never studied English. Will she be more comfortable with samaiyal vaLi or cooking gas?

Pollution - maasu (மாசு). maasu - dirt.

Pollution control - maasu kadduppaadu (மாசு கட்டுப்பாடு). kadduppaadu - control.

Monetary inflation - paNa veekkam (பண வீக்கம்). paNam - money, veekkam - swelling. I do not know who coined this excellent term. I first read this word in the popular Tamil news paper Thinathanthi.

Passport - ellai kadavu (எல்லை கடவு, எல்லைக்கடவு). ellai - boundary, border; kadavu - cross. ellai kadavu is the document that allows you to cross the border of a country.

Visa - nuzhaivu cheettu (நுழைவு சீட்டு, நுழைவுச்சீட்டு). nuzhaivu - entry, cheetu - card. Visa is a paper or card that allows a foreigner to enter the country.

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1. Etymology: Tamil Words from the Root "su" (by Inia Pandian), TAMIL TRIBUNE, February 2004 (8 KB)

 2. Engineering Education in Tamil (by K. Pitchai), TAMIL TRIBUNE, September 2010 (16 KB)

---------- to be continued

Thanjai Nalangkilli

Some Tamil names are spelled differently by different people. Paththupaattu - Pattupattu, Perumpanaattupadai - Perumpanattupadai, Porunaraattupadai - Porunarattupadai, Sirupanaattupadai - Sirupanattupadai, Thiru Murugaatupadai - Thiru Murugatupadai. All these poems belong to the classical Tamil literature anthology Paththupaattu of the Third Tamil Academy (Third Tamil Sangam). 

Thirukural - Tirukural, Thiru Kural; Thirunelveli - Tirunelveli, Tinnelveli (The district is also called Nellai District)

SUMMARY: Etymology and analysis. Creation of Tamil words over the millennia. Creation of Tamil words from early river valley civilization to modern technological age (purity and uniqueness of Tamil, a primary classical language.)

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