Friday 3 July 2009



A hindonym is an English word that sounds the same as an unrelated Hindi word.

Take these for instance:

Word English Meaning Hindi Meaning
BUS vehicle;
computer circuit
enough, stop!
SAW past tense of 'see';
tool for cutting;
proverb; …

If you have never heard about hindonyms before, that's because it isn't a dictionary word.

My uncle had coined the term "hindonym" years ago. To keep us occupied on an idle day during school summer vacations, he set me and my cousins the task of preparing a list of such words. I wish I had preserved that list, it ran into pages.

These two clues from today's Financial Times 13119 (Bradman) reminded me of hindonyms:

Big cheese finally making fortune (4)
County chaps looking fashionable once? (5)

In Hindi, badi cheez (बड़ी चीज़) means the same as "big cheese". Cheese and चीज़ sound identical, but on their own they have different meanings. Apparently, the expression "big cheese" has originated from its Hindi equivalent.

The answer to the second clue is BUCKS. In English, BUCK can mean a male deer, a fashionable guy, to object strongly…and in Hindi, it can be a rude way to say: Speak!

Bilingual Double-Definitions

Readers who know Hindi – how about writing hindonym-based double definitions?

Sample Clue: Irritate God (3)
Answer: RUB / रब

The conditions are:

  1. Of the two definitions, one should be for the English word, the other for the Hindi word. Any order is fine.
  2. The word length should be according to the English word.
  3. The PH sound should be accurate. Silly flower (4) will not do – FOOL is फ़ूल, flower is फूल. Notice the missing dot! [I have mentioned this specially as this common mispronunciation is a pet peeve :P]

Here's one from me to start with:

Servant, strike the door with this! (7)

Post answers and your own clues in the comments section.

Related Posts:

If you wish to keep track of further articles on Crossword Unclued, you can subscribe to it in a reader via RSS Feed. You can also subscribe by email and have articles delivered to your inbox.


maddy said...


My clue - Routine job for a pick pocket. (5)

Your post reminded me of my college days when we used to have a riot transliterating hindi songs into english. It was gr8 fun. Do check out this post on another blog I follow.Try and figure out the answers before looking them up.

Shuchi said...

Thanks, maddy. I looked through the blog and did recognize a few. Translations can be hilarious if done too literally :D

From a blog that I follow, a related old post about English titles of Hindi films: Neither do you know, neither do I.

Answer to your clue: CHORE / चोर.

Crown for the belly? (4)

anokha said...

Crown for the belly? PATE

Bank buzz (5)

Satya said...

The answer to

Crown for the belly? (4)

is PATE; though that would be such a south indian pronunciation of paeth!

How about my own clue?

Enough of the hot drink! (6)

Deepak Gopinath said...

Enough of the hot drink! (6)COFFEE


Stick to sorrow (3)
another one
Isn't it Dye? (5)

Shuchi said...

Stick to sorrow (3) GUM / गम
Isn't it Dye? (5) HENNA / है ना

Still scratching my head over "Bank buzz (5)", Anokha!

Leguminous seeds that grumble? (6)

anokha said...

Bank buzz (5) SHORE

Leguminous seeds that grumble? (6) MUTTER

Endure trip (6)
Also, a proud bird (4)
Recline backward (4)

Shuchi said...

Aah I should have got SHORE! I was off-track thinking of SAFE and LOCKER...

I can answer the three new ones, phew :) But I'll hold on for some time to give others a chance...the last is a somewhat tough Hindi word, isn't it?

maddy said...

Endure trip (6)suffer/safar
Also, a proud bird (4)more/mor
Recline backward (4)late/leth(as in lie down)??Shuchi how come "leth" is a tough word?? or do u ve somethng else in mind??

Register people (3)

display befuddled expression.(5)

capital capital! (5)

Shuchi said...

For "Recline backward", I had LEAN / लीन in mind!

Register people (3) LOG / लोग

display befuddled expression.(5) SHOCK / शोक ? Is this an &lit? Goodness!

The last has an interesting surface, haven't worked it out yet...

anokha said...

Shuchi - what does "lean" mean in hindi?

Capital capital is eluding me???

Round target (4)
Desert flower or vegetable (4)
Opening cord (4)
Desert base (6)

maddy said...

display befuddled expression.(5) SHOCK / शोक ? Is this an &lit? Goodness! . I liked your ans. makes me look smarter ;), though not very sure how display = shoke in hindi. Shouldnt it be hobby, interest etc??
This is not what I had in mind...Hint -One of the meanings of the english word is related to your field and you are right now looking at some form of it. Drops of water make the ocean,parts that make a greater whole :)

Capital capital! (5) Go slang/colloquial for the english word. Hindi part may be easier to decipher. Thinking movies may also help for the latter.

C.G. BHARGAV said...

Capital, capital!
Is it Dilly?
I think in Hindi Delhi is usually
pronounced Dilly.

Shuchi said...

I was taking the whole "Display befuddled expression" to mean both SHOCK and shoke (शोक), शोक as in sorrow [though that's much stronger than being befuddled :)].

Is it ARRAY / अर्रे ?

DILLY it must be. Nice clue, and good crack Bhargav!

maddy said...

Capital Bhargav sir!and thnx Shuchi.It is Dilly,as in Nai Dilli for New Delhi. The hint was obviously for Delhi-6.

Array is also right. The way you interpreted shock, it could also fit as an &lit.Though 'befuddled expression' for grief is a bit of a stretch.

Deepak Gopinath said...

Round target (4)GOAL
Desert flower or vegetable (4)GOBI
Opening cord (4)DOOR
Desert base (6)SAHARA

Sri said...

I don't converse much in Hindi, but I'll have a go at clue construction anyway:

Higher flier? (4)
Cry thanks, kid (3)
Die twice to yak (6)
But he falsifies tears (6)
Bait amply (6)
Carefree, sans minion (7)

Anonymous said...

Die twice to yak (6) MUR MUR

Try this:

Does my mind make up who takes the photographs? (9)

Chaturvasi said...

Does my mind make up who takes the photographs? (9) CAMERAMAN (क्या मेरा मन)

Shuchi said...

But he falsifies tears (6) MUGGER / मगर

मगर the English MUGGER comes from the other Hindi मगर (for crocodile)!

maddy said...

Last one from me.

Eighth hindu maintainer of a very heavy vehicle.(10)

Shuchi said...

Ten letters! Is it AUTOMOBILE?

Can't work out the anno fully: Eigth (AATH) + Hindu maintainer (OM) + ...?

Shuchi said...

On second thoughts - JUGGERNAUT?

Anonymous said...

This isn't exactly hindonym. But if you spell the hindi word in English, it makes another word.

Gate is far away (4)

While one might say that it can spelled in English in 3 letters too, the correct spelling would be four letters.

Unknown said...

Gate is far away (4) - Is it DOOR ?

Anonymous said...

In below clues answers are Hindi words. The letters indicate are for Devnagari spelling.

In Devnagari there is half letter too. e.g. "ढाई अक्षर प्र॓म क॓". Means 2 & 1/2 letters of love(प्र॓म), because 'र' is used half in the word प्र॓म.

1. Holding baby lion's mouth? (2 &1/2)
2. Arrive fresh in the room. (3)
3. Man or animal? (2)
4. We grunt (2)
5. Two mothers make relation (2)
6. Lady makes fresh sweet (2)
7. Modest hesitation shown by poet (3)

Anonymous said...

Sivesh, yes.
far away = दूर (Door) Not दुर (Dur).

maddy said...

@Shuchi - Juggernaut it is.

Eighth hindu maintainer of a very heavy vehicle.(10)

Anno - Hindu Maintainer - Vishnu , as in the Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva trimurti; where Vishnu is the preserver/maintainer

Eighth => the 8th avatar of vishnu = krishna, also called jagannath as in Lord Jagannath of Puri.

very heavy vehicle = Juggernaut.
Incidentally, it's etymology is derived from Jagannath rath yatra.

Was it too esoteric/vague??

BTW, why dont you write a piece on rules/guidelines for use of connectors in crosswords to improve it's surface.IMO good surface can make or break a clue and is as important as its cryptic validity. The use of one or two superfluous words to achieve this is justified. But then how much is too much?? What is acceptable and what is not??

N.B - This issue has been bothering me for some time and I realised you are the right person to approach after reading your comments on The Col's blog.

Shuchi said...

It wasn't vague, maddy, I got it soon after I put aside my AUTOMOBILE line of thought. Both parts have fair, precise definitions. I knew Krishna was the 8th avatar so it clicked quickly.

The only reservation is that English JUGGERNAUT comes from the Hindi word itself - synonym of Krishna - so they're originally the same word!

Shuchi said...

Thanks for suggesting a piece about connectors. I am no authority, besides this may not be an objective thing. Some setters/solvers have greater "connector tolerance" than others. (Based on what I read, US-made cryptics don't allow connectors AT ALL!)

That said, the issue is an important one, and I would surely like to write about my take on it. There might be different perspectives though.

Tony Sebastian said...

All this is very nice, but what about the hindicapped?

Shuchi said...

LOL Tony, that was priceless!

Anonymous said...

1. Holding baby lion's mouth? (2 &1/2)
Ans: Cub jaw ~ कब्जा (Kabza)

2. Arrive fresh in the room. (3)
Ans: Come raw ~ कमरा (Kamara)

3. Man or animal? (2)
Ans: Guy गाय

4. We grunt (2)
Ans: Hum हम

5. Two mothers make relation (2)
Ans: Ma ma मामा

6. Lady makes fresh sweet (2)
Ans: She raw ~ शीरा (Sheera)

7. Modest hesitation shown by poet (3)
Ans. Shy er ~ शायर (Shayar)

Shuchi said...

Thanks, Aim.

Hi Sri, Answers for your unsolved clues please?