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Pukka

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Pukka

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:19 pm

• pukka •


Pronunciation: pêk-ê • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Genuine, authentic, real, bona fide. 2. Excellent, superior, of top quality, the best of its kind.

Notes: Today's Good Word is not to be confused with pooka, the mischievous Irish spirit of folklore, and Mary Chase's play, Harvey. One comes from Hindu, the other from Irish Gaelic. Pukka sounds so much like the British pronunciation of pucker, it was widely spelled pucker throughout the 18th century. This word is closely associated with sahib, formerly a respectful way to address a foreigner in India. A pukka sahib is man of good upbringing, good family, socially well connected.

In Play: Although you occasionally bump into today's Good Word in North America, it is more popular in the UK: "That's a right pukka telly you have there, mate." Pukka not only means "excellent", it also means "genuine": "Burney Butz is not a very good cook in general, but he makes a pukka chili." For more on pukka, read "How we got pukka" in the Prospect Blog by clicking here.

Word History: Today's word, as mentioned above, comes from Hindi pakka "cooked, ripe", inherited from Sanskrit pakva "cooked, ripe, fully developed", a noun from pacati "he cooks". This word shares its origin with Greek pepon "ripe" and peptein "to cook". This latter word provided Greek with the adjective peptikos "digested" (digestion is often seen as cooking in a variety of languages), which English borrowed via the Latin borrowing pepticus as peptic. The Russian verb peku "(I) bake" comes from the same original word as pukka. (Today gratitude is owed Paul Ogden, one of the pukka editors of this series for several years now, and whose suggestion today's Good Word is based on.)
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Re: Pukka

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:19 pm

Thanks for pukka. I had read pukka sahib in novels and somewhat deduced the meaning, but I always wondered where it came from.
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Re: Pukka

Postby MTC » Mon Jul 01, 2013 4:21 pm

And now you know, Perry.

Researching "pukka" or pucka" in the Hobson-Jobson dictionary, I found the antonym:

"CUTCHA, KUTCHA , adj. Hind. kachchā, 'raw, crude, unripe, uncooked. ' This word is with its opposite pakkā (see PUCKA) among the most constantly recurring Anglo-Indian colloquial terms, owing to the great variety of metaphorical applications of which both are susceptible. The following are a few examples only, but they will indicate the manner of use better than any attempt at comprehensive definition:-
A cutcha Brick is a sun-dried brick."

On the other hand,

"A pucka Brick is a properly kiln-burnt brick."

(http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... 716.hobson)

From what I can see "cutcha" has not found it's way into common usage in American English, though it is listed in Collins English Dictionary. Let's start a trend : "Rush Limbaugh, a cutcha sahib." Oops, there go those political leanings again! Still, "sun-dried brick" works pretty well in Rush's case.
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Re: Pukka

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:11 pm

And yet to say "he's a brick" is a compliment! Where'd that one come from? ( And no, I'm not complimenting RL.)
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Re: Pukka

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:46 pm

Wow! An antonym for pukka that is derived from the same root and sounds similar. Looks like a good excuse for a malopropism. So good that if one remarked, "Rush, in my book your are a cutcha sahib," he would probably be thoroughly impressed by the compliment.

Genealogical study can be very interesting. I'm pretty sure that that RL is a distant Hudson cousin of mine. His mother is from a long line of Rush Hudsons. I have never met him, but I claim kin to all my kin, whatever their stripe.

Perry you may have missed something in the brick reference by MTC. A cuthca brick is only half baked. That may have far reaching significance.
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Re: Pukka

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:14 pm

MTC thanks for the reference to the Hobson=Jobson
Dictionary. I thought you were being tongue-in-cheek
until I clicked. I've added it to my bookmarks.
I am appreciative. One learns so much on this site.
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