• purdah •
pêr-dê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. The Muslim and Hindu practice of secluding women from men or strangers, inside by a curtain, outside by clothing that completely covers them, i.e. burqas. 2. The curtain used to achieve such seclusion. 3. Societal secrecy or seclusion
Notes: The difference between seclusion and purdah is that purdah connotes a religiously maintained seclusion. This word is a true lexical orphan—no derivational relatives.
In Play: The usual use of this word is connected with Muslim or Hindi women and their world: "The idea of purdah originated in Persian society, which secluded women to honor them, not to humiliate them." The extended use is more common in the UK than the US: "The committee's investigation into the matter was carried out in complete purdah."
Word History: This word was captured from Urdu, pardah "veil", borrowed from Persian, from Persian parda "veil". Parda is all that is left from Old Persian paridaka-, from pari-da- "to place over", comprising pari "around, over" roots + da- "to place, put". Old Persian inherited pari- from PIE per "forward, through, around, near", which turned up in English as for, forth, first, far. Da- came from PIE dhe-/dho- "put, place, set", the same origin as for do, doom, and the suffix -dom, as in kingdom, where the king is set or placed. (Today's Good Word comes from a new Agoran who is only known by the moniker JoannesL.)
Come visit our website at <http://www.alphadictionary.com> for more Good Words and other language resources!