Word of the Day – Wednesday, January 17th



Word of the Day


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A polite title or form of address for a man.
Common clues: Indian term of respect; Indian honorific; Madras master; Sir, in India
; Title of respect in India
Crossword puzzle frequency: once a year
Frequency in English language: 54087 / 86800
Last Days of the Raj

Sahib in English, is an Arabic term which literally translates to "Owner" or "Proprieter". It has passed on to several languages including Hindi-Urdu (Hindustani), Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, Pashto, Persian, Turkish and Marathi. It has been translated in the Indian sub-continent after the advent of colonialism as: grace or, as in the Sikh religion, "Guru's honor." It comes from the Arabic ṣāḥib, originally "Owner" but in a different context of usage; "Suhabaa", it can mean "companion". The "companion" variant is derived more specifically from the word "As'haab" which is Arabic for "Friends". Its grammatical feminine form is ṣāḥibah, but the use may differ greatly.

The British Indian Empire, 1909

Sahib means "friend" in Arabic and was commonly used in the Sub-continent as a courteous term in the way that "Mister" (also derived from the word "master") and "Misses" (derived from the word "mistress") is used in the English language. It is still used today in the Sub-continent just as "Mister" and "Misses", and continues to be used today by English language speakers as a polite form of address.

The term sahib was applied indiscriminately to any person whether Indian or Non-Indian. This included Europeans who arrived in the Sub-continent as traders in the 16th Century and hence the first mention of the word in European records is in 1673.

Pukka sahib was also a term used to signify genuine and legitimate authority, with pukka meaning "first-class" or "absolutely genuine."

Sahiba is the authentic form address to be used for a female. Under the British Raj, however, the word used for female members of the establishment was adapted to memsahib, a corruption of the English word "ma'am" which was added to the word sahib.

The same word is also appended to the names of Sikh gurus.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Sahib".