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A Practical Hindi-English Dictionary

[page iii]

Preface (to the Second Edition)

The Editors have been encouraged by the spontaneous and hearty appreciation of their effort by users of the dictionary in general and by friends in particular.

The second edition is a much more improved, comprehensive and enlarged version of the first--keeping the basic framework in tact. On valuable suggestions from friends in India, and esp. from friends teaching Hindi in foreign Universities, we have added some new categories of words in the dictionary and hope they will further facilitate the efforts of foreign friends trying to learn Hindi in their own universities and institutions. The new additions may be categorized as under :

1. Some mythological names which symbolise, or are characteristic of, certain traits of human personality or have given birth to idioms, sayings and proverbs current amongst Hindi-speakers (as ????????, ????????, ???, etc.). This nomenclature has enriched the language through such potential expressions and should, therefore, appropriately find a place in a general dictionary such as this.
2. Oblique forms of verbs, which do not yield to ready comprehension of the learner of Hindi, have also been incorporated in the dictionary (as ????, ????, ???, etc.). Suggestions for the inclusion [page iv] of such forms had come from Hindi teachers of foreign university departments.
3. Some technical terms which have gained passage into contemporary writing.
4. Some hitherto unknown words of dialects that have been elevated to the position of recognised usages through the pen of significant writers.

Besides these categories, the dictionary has also been enlarged (and enriched) by the inclusion of numerous Hindi sayings, proverbs and idioms which would be difficult to find even in a Hindi-Hindi Dictionary. This dictionary is richer from this point of view than even the most voluminous of Hindi-Hindi dictionaries.

We have made a slight change in our system of phonetic pronunciation adopted in the first edition. In giving the phonetic pronunciations we had post-fixed an 'a' to consonant-clusters or to semivowels (?, ?). This has now been omitted since the words that sound as ending in ? (???????) are not actually so. What we hear is just plosion.

We are thankful to our friend Dr. R. K. Kohli for reading through the preface of the dictionary and suggesting improvements therein as also for some of his suggestions in general. Mention may also be made of Madhukar Chaturvedi, Km. Mukul and Rajiv Tiwari for their keen interest in, and active cooperation towards, the preparation of the press copy of the second Edition of the dictionary.

Mahendra Chaturvedi
Bhola Nath Tiwari

Dipawali, 1974.

[page v]

Editorial Preface
(to the First Edition)

Those who are conversant with the pace and process of growth of reference works and lexicographical literature [part of the literature of knowledge] in Hindi will, no doubt, agree that there has been an unusual spurt of such literature in the post-Independence era. Still, measured by modern standards, there is an apalling dearth of literature dwelling on various linguistic aspects of Hindi and representing profound linguistic studies--and there is no room for controversy on this point, too. The lexicographical art in Hindi is in its primal stages and Hindi dictionaries which can match the high standards of Webster's International Dictionary or Shorter Oxford Dictionary, or bilingual dictionaries available in European languages, are yet a long way off. Dictionaries, lexicons and glossaries form a very valuable part of the literature of knowledge and their importance in any linguistic study is self-evident. It is with a deep sense of the obligation to contribute their mite to the enrichment of this rather poor field, and with full consciousness of the hazards involved, that the Editors undertook to compile a dictionary such as the present one. We have absolutely no pretensions to a pioneering work and should our endeavour prove to be of some help to the Hindi learner, the translator, and the user in general, we shall consider our efforts amply rewarded.

[page vi]

Dictionaries form a wide and varied genre of the literature of knowledge--one of the main categories being comprised of bilingual dictionaries. Bilingual dictionaries represent an effort to convey the meanings and significance of words, typical usages, idioms and proverbs of one language through the medium of another--which may or may not be blessed with matching verve and richness. The tradition of bilingual dictionaries can be traced back to fairly ancient times in world literature. India, too, is not without its own tradition of bilingual dictionaries although Indian langauges, today, cannot claim to be as advanced or rich as some other languages of the world, such as English, French, German and Russian. And in this respect what is true of Indian languages in general is also true of Hindi.

The first bilingual dictionary in Hindi is the Kha:liq Ba:ri: which lists Persian (and sometimes Arabic and Turkish) equivalents of Hindi words and phrases. We can enumerate about half-a-dozen more, such as 'Lugatae Hindi', 'Gara:ybul luga:t', 'Alla:?huda:i:, in this tradition. Obviously, they reflect genuine efforts on the part of immigrating Muslims to acquire fluency in the Hindi language and to understand it better. The same phenomenon was repeated when the Europeans achieved sway over the northern parts of the country and felt the imperative need to have a workable knowledge of Hindi. Hindi-English Dictionaries numbering a score and a half were compiled to fulfil this need of the times. The earliest in the series was John Fergusan's 'A Dictionary of Hindustani language' which was published in London in 1773 A. D. Among others 'A Dictionary : Hindustanee and English, Calcutta, 1808 (Taylor)', 'A Dictionary : Hindustani and English, London, 1817 (Shakespeare)', 'A Dictionary : Hindustani and English, London, 1848 (Duncan Forbes)' and 'A Dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi and English, London, 1884 (Platts)' deserve special mention. The last mentioned work is, undoubtedly, the best of the whole lot.

The second quarter of the present century saw another dictionary compiled by Shri R. C. Pathak (Bhargava's Standard Illustrated Dictionary of the Hindi language, Banares, 1946) which, although based essentially on Platts, represents a linguistic anachronism and betrays complete ignorance of the art of lexicography. It abounds, on the one hand, in words and meanings which never formed an essential part of standard Hindi vocabulary and ignores, on the other, numerous words and meanings that have very much been an asset to, and form an integral part of, the language. The very fact that this dictionary has gone into several editions reflects the poor state of our lexicographical equipment in the field.

In 1966, the Central Hindi Directorate of the Govt. of India, Ministry of Education, brought out a small-sized 'Hindi-English Dictionary [page vii] of Common Words', comprising about five thousand entries, at the instance of then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. This was rather a meagre tribute to the wishes of a great and mighty man who always believed in doing things 'in a big way'. It, however, reflected an approach that was much more scientific and precision-based. With all its limitations in terms of size and selection of entries, it was a worthwhile contribution to this rather sterile field.

In fact, none of the dictionaries mentioned above incorporates all, or nearly all, the active vocabulary of modern Hindi or adopts comparatively newer lexicographical techniques. The present work is an humble effort to fulfil the twin objectives.

The main characteristics of the dictionary may be summed up as follows :

(i) It comprises almost the whole active vocabulary of modern Hindi including words of common or literary usages as also commonly prevalent technical and semi-technical terms.
(ii) An effort has been made herein to incorporate almost all current idioms, proverbs and peculiar usages of Hindi.
(iii) Each main entry is followed by its actual pronunciation.
(iv) While fixing the English equivalents for Hindi words, emphasis has not been laid on conglomerating all, even remotely possible, words having far-fetched affinity of meaning, but on the selection of semantically precise and exact equivalents as far as possible. It is the semantic proximity, in other words, that has mattered in the selection of words and not the numerical strength of the equivalents. In fact, we have tried to restrict the number of equivalents as far as possible.

It may, in short, be stated that an over riding emphasis on practical aspect of linguistic usages forms the keystone of its edifice. It is this factor that is sought to be reflected in the title of the dictionary viz. 'A Practical Hindi-English Dictionary'. We seek here to discuss, in brief, the main problems of complication in respect of this dictionary.

Word Entries

Selection of the entries represents one of the first, and fairly ticklish, problems of complication. It depends, most of all, on the proposed user of the dictionary--as envisaged by the compiler(s). We have focussed our attention essentially on those who are trying to learn conversational or literary Hindi, on the general user of the language and the translator of Hindi works and texts. We have not been very liberal in the inclusion of technical terms which form a very small percentage of the total entries. In fact we have, by and large, selected such words as verge on the [page viii] border-line and may safely be termed as semi-technical. There is ample room for difference of opinion over the selection (or rejection) of main as well as sub-entries in a dictionary of this type and personal judgement, undoubtedly, plays a significant role in arriving at a decision in respect of all controversial entries. We have, however, taken care to ensure that words, phrases, idioms and proverbs of our active vocabulary are not left out. Apart from entries that are an aid to the comprehension of subsequent words and phrases thereunder, currency forms one of the important criteria for selection of words as main entries--though it is difficult to decide what words are more, and what others less, current without an element of subjectivity.

We have followed six different techniques of inscribing a word, phrase, idiom or proverb by way of a sub-entry under a main entry :--

1. They are in some cases written in full--especially, where the initial head-word has undergone a formal variation, inflexional or otherwise, in the sub-entry; e.g. '?????????' under '??????', '??????? ?????' under '???', '????? ??? ??? ????' under '?????' and so on.
2. Some of the sub-entries are preceded by a tilde (~) which means that the actual words etc. are formed by prefixing the main entry to it and that it forms an organic whole, e.g. '~?????' under the head-word '???' actually stands for '????????' or '~??' under '????' is actually to be read as '??????'.
3. Some others are preceded by a dash, instead of a tilde, which signifies that the main entry and the sub-entry combine to form the whole expression and yet they are written separately, e.g., '--???' under the main entry '???' would denote the complete expression as '??? ???'; '--??' under '????' means '???? ??' and '--?? ????? ????' under '????' should be read as '???? ?? ????? ????'.
4. In some cases, the reader will find a hyphen preceding a sub-entry and that should be taken to mean that the two, i.e. the main and the sub-entries form a compound and are joined together by a hyphen in usual usage. For example, '-???????' under the main entry '???' should be read as '??? ???????', '-????' under '????' should be read as '????-????'.
5. A slanting near-vertical line (/) has been interposed in between the body of a word in certain cases which signifies that the subsequent entries are formed by prefixing the earlier portion of the word so divided. For example, we have a sub-entry as, '~?????' under '????/??' which means that the actual sub-entry is ?????????.
6. A dot (•) preceding a sub-entry means that the latter subentry is formed by prefixing the whole of the sub-entry immediately before it. Thus, a dot followed by ???? (viz. [page ix] •????) under '???' after --??? is tantamount to '???-??? ????' or under '??/??' and after the sub-entry '~??' (i e. ????), -???? would denote that the word under study is '????-????'.

The main entries are sometimes more than one representing prevalent variations of a word. They are grouped together alphabetically in full as one main entry (as ?????, ???????), or shown within bracket if the difference is confined to just one letter or so as ??(??)???, which denotes both the variations, viz. ?????, ??????. The latter difference has also been denoted by a slanting near-vertical line as in ????/?,~?? (which denotes two entries--?????, ??????).

A slanting near-vertical line interposed in between various words denotes alternatives. It just means that the words on either side of the line are alternatives and the two may be used interchangeably. For example, ~??????/????? under '?????' means '????????' or '????????' both, ~????/????? under ???/??, is tantamount to '???????' and '????????' both. The same thing holds in respect of idioms. --????/????? under '???' denote two sub-entries, viz. ??? ???? or ??? ?????, conveying identical meaning.


The general belief amongst people is that there is exact conformity between the spoken and written forms of words in Hindi and that words are written exactly as they are spoken and spoken precisely as they are written. The truth is, however, remarkably different. '????' for example is pronounced as '??????', '???????' as '???????????', '???' as '????' and so on. It is because of this gulf between the spellings and pronunciations that we have tried to indicate the actual pronunciations of all the main entries. Some of the earlier Hindi-English dictionaries do give pronunciations, in Roman alphabet, of the words written in Devna:gri: but these are not actual pronunciations--they are more of transliterations of the written forms. In fact, the present dictionary is the first wherein an effort has been made to transcribe the actual pronunciations and, therefore, errors--both of omission and commission--cannot be ruled out. It would not be out of place here to recount some of the difficulties encountered in the matter of pronunciation.

1. Essentialy, the written forms can only indicate the pronunciation. It is pretty difficult to reduce to exact written form the actual pronunciation of any word of any language whatsoever. Even if the effort is made, the pronunciations would need fairly advanced technical skill to be correctly comprehended because of a variety of diacritical marks and it may not be possible for all the users of the dictionary to benefit from the [page x] additional editorial effort.
2. The editors had originally planned to make the pronunciations as accurate as possible and yet to avoid being too technical but the limitations of Hindi typography proved too much to surmount. What was possible had, therefore, to be abandoned because of the handicaps and limitations of the press. And what is now before the reader is some sort of an enforced compromise.
3. Hindi, with its variations, is the spoken language of a fairly large region of the Indian Union and we find different pronunciations in different areas of this region. Not only this, the Hindi pronunciation of a Sanskrit-knowing Hindi-speaking man of the same area differs from that of one who knows English and Urdu while one who knows neither Sanskrit nor English and Urdu has his own peculiar style of pronunciation. Which one of these numerous variations is to be taken as the standard, and adopted ? This poses a tough problem. This preface is not the appropriate place to discuss the problem in detail, knotty as it is. Suffice it to say that we have accepted the pronunciation of an educated original resident of Delhi as our norm. We have, in some exceptional cases, given two variations of pronunciation when we thought it to be absolutely essential. Perhaps we thought it better to err on the right side--as the proverb goes. And yet, we have no hesitation in confessing that our notion of standard form has still been subjective. Probably there is no other way. Objectively is impossible to achieve in the field without a thorough survey on a wide scale.
[4.] The vowel is seldom pronounced at the end of a word and in some cases, at the end of a syllable. Thus, '??' is pronounced as '???' and '????????' as '??????????'. We have constantly kept the fact in view while transcribing the pronunciations. But when preceded by a compound consonant some people (esp. Sanskrit knowing people) do pronounce it, fully or partly. That is why we have retained the '?' in such cases. In fact, this post-compound consonantal '?' has not altogether disappeared in pronunciation and that is why we thought it prudent to retain it--again, perhaps, with a view to err on the right side, if at all.
5. '???' is variously pronuounced as ????, ????, ???? and ??? by Hindi-speaking people depending on the extent of their familiarity with, and fascination for, the Sanskritic style of pronunciation but the most popularly current amongst them is '???', which we have uniformly adopted.

[page xi]

6. ?, ? and the Visargas (:) had typical pronuciations in Sanskrit and though they form an integral part of the written form of the Hindi language yet, in actual practice, they are pronounced as ??, ? and ?? and have, therefore, been rendered as such.
7. Although we have only one '?' as far as the written form is concerned, in actual pronunciation it is labio dental (v) in some cases and bilabial (w) in others. This difference is not very clear in some words, yet we have kept it in view as far as possible.
8. ? and ? are presently pronounced in three different ways in the Hindi region. Broadly speaking, those adopting the Sanskrit tradition pronounce them as '??' and '??' respectively, those belonging to the eastern parts and some western tract of the region pronounce them as ?? and ?? while in the western parts they are generally retained as base vowels ? and ?. (There are, of course, exceptions when they are pronounced as '??'and '??'). These two vowels are thus pronounced as diphthongs as well as monophthongs. We have indicated them by the symbols ai and au which should be read as base vowels '?' and '?' (more 'open' in comparison with '?' and '?'). We could not work out a more approximate symbol because of typographical shortcomings and handicaps. An effort at closest possible approximation has, however, been made in all cases.
9. ?, ?, ?, ?, ? and ? have been represented by the symbols o, q, ??, g, z and f, respectively, in words where they are so pronounced by the educated class in the Hindi region. In cases where they have been otherwise moulded into the pattern of Hindi phonetic system, they have accordingly been represented by the symbols a:, k, kh, g, j, and ph, in pronunciation.
10. A post-vowel colon (:) represents a long vowel, a horizontal line mark overhead signifies its nasalization. Considered in minutest details, each phoneme has numerous allophones but it is only the major ones that have been given in the pronunciations.

Other important points regarding the system adopted herein, for rendering the pronunciations, will become self-evident from the following charts :--

  Front mid back
Close i:, i u:, u
Half-close e o
Half-open ai au
open a:

[page xii]

bilabial labio-dental dental alveolar prepalatal
palatal soft-palatal uvular glottal
stop p, ph, b, bh t, th, d, dh ?, ??, ?, ?? k, kh, g, gh q
affricate ch, chh, j, jh
nasal m n ? ? ?
flapped ?, ??
rolled r
lateral l
fricative f, v s, z sh ??, g h
semi-vowel w y

[page xiii]

? a ?? ? ? Ɔ
? a: ?? ?: ? ri
? i ?? ?
? i: ?? ?:
? u ?? ?
? u: ?? ?:
? e ?? ?
? ai ?? ??
? o ?? ?
? au ?? ??
?? k ?? kh ?? g ?? gh ?? ?
?? ch ?? chh ?? j ?? jh ? ?
?? ? ?? ?? ?? ? ?? ?? ?? n
?? t ?? th ?? d ?? dh ?? n
?? p ?? ph ?? b ?? bh ?? m
?? y ?? r ?? l ?? v/w
?? sh ?? sh ?? s ?? h
?? q ? ?? ?? g
?? z ?? f
? ? ? ??

[page xiv]

[A colon (:) following a short vowel denotes its long form. Ɔ has been used to denote a rounded a: (as in ????(??)?). It is also rather close as compared with a:.

A horizontal line mark over the body of a vowel-symbol represents its nasalized form :--? (??), ?: (??), ? (??), ?: (??), ? (??), ?: (??), ? (??), ?? (??), ? (??), ?? (??).]


As far as grammatical indications are concerned, we have something to say only in respect of the gender. There is a large number of words that are used in the feminine gender in one region and in the masculine in another. The reverse is also true in an equally large number of cases. There is yet another category of words which are used sometimes in one gender and sometimes in the other. This anarchy extends to such an incredible limit that the same person uses a word in feminine gender in one context and in masculine in another. The numerous Hindi Dictionaries have only helped in perpetuating this confusion--in fact, they have contributed to make it more confounded. In all such controversial cases, we have adopted the genders that are prevalent in the western Hindi region and have been accepted as standard in grammatical works. The indication nm, nf stands for words that are freely used in both the genders but such cases are few, in our opinion.


Fixation of meanings and appropriate equivalents forms the most difficult aspect of lexicographical attainments. Precise meanings and exact equivalents are much more elusive than they appear to be to a layman. The whole effort is, in fact, an exercise in approximation and the closer this approximation, the more successful the effort. Schopenhauer, in his typical philosophical manner, has rightly pointed towards the fact that the so-called synonyms in any two languages could at best be represented by two 'overlapping circles'. Nobody understands the genuineness of this remarkable expression better than a practical lexicographer. But, then, bilingual and multilingual dictionaries have been, and are being, compiled and scholars have continued to fondly indulge in this exercise in approximation. It is with the object of achieving the closest approximation between a word and its equivalent(s) and to make it (or them) distinctly intelligible that we have kept certain things in view :--

1. We have, as far as possible, adopted a strictly practical approach and have given only such meanings of words as are current and prevalent. We have generally discarded obsolescent and obsolete meanings.

[page xv]

2. An effort has been made to give the closest English equivalents for the various Hindi entries. We have tried to steer clear of the general tendency to collect as large a number of equivalents as possible--unscientific as it is.
3. When the equivalents have more or less the same or proximal nuances, they are separated by a comma. But if the meanings or the shades of these meanings differ substantially, semi-colon has been used to indicate the fact of this difference. The meanings could perhaps be numbered but that would have consumed plenty of space. The use of a semi-colon has perhaps served the purpose equally well.
4. The articles 'a', 'an' and 'the' have been appropriately prefixed to the first of the nominal meanings only.
5. A slanting near-vertical line denotes equivalents and/or interchangeability of the meanings.

The problem of finding equivalents in a bilingual dictionary becomes much more insurmountable when the cultural gap between the languages in question is wide, as in the present case. On numerous occasions, we have been faced with the predicament of failing to find an equally forceful and pithy equivalent for a simple but tricky Hindi word. Such cases may well be illustrative of the limitations of our linguistic attainments in the target language--a language with which neither of us grew in our early childhood.

With the successful (?) culmination of this rather unending task of dictionary-making in sight, we would like to express our gratitude to Shri. K. L. Malik (and sons, especially his enthusiastic son Shri Surendra Malik) of M/s National Publishing House for readily agreeing to take up the project and their subsequent remarkable success in ever-concealing their exasperation and restlessness over the unforeseen delay in execution of the project under very suave and soft-spoken reminders and exhortations. But for Shri Malik's cool and composed manners, it would have become a scare for both of us. We are also very much indebted to Shri Shyam Kumar, the printer of the dictionary, whose active ways and 'voiced' personality always kept both the Editors, and perhaps also the Publisher, on the alert--fully equipped with plausible excuses for not sending the press-matter in time. We would also like to thank Shri S. P. Bajaj for his ever-readiness to do the utmost within the shortest possible time on the typing front.

Among others, we would like to make a special mention of Shri Lakshman Chaturvedi for his timely and valuable literary assistance, and of Kumari Shashi Prabha and Jyotsna for their untiring efforts towards [page xvi] the speedy preparation of the press copy. We would not observe the formality of expressing gratitude for their contribution because that would amount to devaluing their affectionate feelings and would sound as odd as thanking our ownselves.

And lastly, we would like to heartily thank our numerous friends, who, by their persistent enquiries regarding the delay in publication of the dictionary, made us all the more conscious of the urgency of our task and indirectly helped in the expeditious completion of the project.

[unnumbered page]


a = adjective

adv = adverb

esp = especially

fig = figurative (meaning)

ind = indeclinable

int = interjection

lit = literal (meaning)

nf = noun feminine

nm = noun masculine

post = post position

pro = pronoun

v = verb

f = feminine

m = masculine

pl = plural

sing = singular

arch = archaic

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