Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sanskrit Word in English: Ginger

Our modern English word "ginger" is spelled gingifer in Old English from Latin gingiber. The Latin in turn is from Greek zingiberis, which is a loan word from Prakrit singabera (Pali singiveram) which is from Sanskrit srngaveram. Although this might be a Sanskrit compound, "horn-body" (srnga-vera) based on the shape of the ginger root, it's also possible that the Sanskrit word is a Dravidian borrowing (compare the word inciver, "ginger-root," in Malayalam and Tamil).

The scientific name of the ginger plant is Zingiber officinale, and Zingiber also provides the genus, family, and order.

(photo by Larry at Flickr)

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