Monday, January 8, 2018

Sanskrit Word in English: Singapore

The name of the city-state Singapore is from the Malay Singapura, which is of Sanskrit origin: Simhapuram, which means "Lion-City."

You can also see the Sanskrit word simha in the name Narasimha, the "Man-Lion," one of the incarnations of Vishnu.

You can see the Sanskrit root puram in other place names such as Rampur, Mirzapur, etc. This Sanskrit word puram is related to the Greek word polis, which you can also see in city names, such as ancient Persepolis or modern Minneapolis. Both Sanskrit puram and Greek polis come from PIE *pele- meaning a "citadel, a fortified high place."

The only lions you will find in Singapore are in the Singapore Zoo, but the "merlion" (half-lion, half-fish) has become a symbol of Singapore tourism. For more about the legend of Singapore's merlion, see this page: The Merlion of the Lion City: How Singapore's Icon and Nickname Came About.

Here's a picture of Singapore's merlion:

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