Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hindi Word in English: Mahout

The word "mahout" means an elephant-driver, and it is borrowed from Hindi mahaut / mahāvat, in turn from Sanskrit mahāmātra, "a man of high rank, great official; elephant keeper; superintendent of elephants."

The first part of that word, Sanskrit maha, is related to the Greek mega, meaning "great, big." You can see that same root in other Sanskrit words such as maharajamahatma, and mahayana, and also in the title of the epic: Mahabharata.

You can read about the "language of the mahouts" and the words they used to issue commands to their elephants here: Mahouts' unique dialect to communicate with jumbos.

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