Paanchdrunk

Yet another in the everything comes from India (etymology) series. Have you ever noticed how desi college students all congregate around the punch bowl in the corner? It’s not because they’re alcoholics too cheap to buy their own brew and too goody-goody to get a fake ID (well, maybe it is), it’s really because punch comes from India. In fact, it’s not really punch, it’s paanch [Thanks Sameer]:

Originally, the word punch was a loanword from Hindi. The original drink was made from five different ingredients, namely arrack, sugar, lemon, water, and tea. Because of this it was named panch which is the Hindi for five. This name was adopted by the sailors of the British East India Company and brought back to England, from where it was introduced into other European countries. [Link]

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p>In Germany, they call it ‘Punsch‘ and it (of course) includes wine or liquor. And in Scandanavia the meaning has morphed yet further, losing the other ingredients to the point where it is just an arrack based booze. Surprisingly enough, the custom used to be to drink it with (what else?) daal:

The first ready-made punsch was sold in 1845 and initially the custom was to serve it warm, often together with yellow pea soup. [Link]

If the drink “punch” is an Indic loanword, then what about the action “punch”? Shouldn’t that be desi too? After all, it takes five fingers to make a fist in order to punch, and desis tend to throw punches after drinking too much of the same. And of course a “paunch” is what you get from drinking punch. Step aside, Noah Webster! We’re Indian givers and we want our loanwords back!

34 thoughts on “Paanchdrunk

  1. Thanks for that funny post, Ennis. I SO needed that right now (suffering from a broken heart. Ugh, women!)

    Yellow pea soup…is it just a highly-punch-drunk me or does it sound suspiciously akin to dal?

  2. it takes five fingers to make a fist in order to punch

    Oooh and that line is straight from a Hindi movie* :-) Now you are A.E.C.F.I. Uncle (all english comes from india).

    *Preferably with Shatrughan Sinha saying it.

  3. sigh

    i guess paanch/punch is a start. although i won’t be hawking the novelty of this linguistic prop to my peers anytime soon.

    now bring me the Indic roots of “beyotch” or “nigga please” and we may have something.

    either way, interesting note, ennis.

  4. Neha,

    *Preferably with Shatrughan Sinha saying it.

    I thought that quote was by Amitabh Bachchan from the early 90s movie “Hum”.

    Jumma Chumma time. You know the film I’m talking about ;)

    Ennis,

    Great post. I had no idea about the desi roots of the word “punch” !

    AC,

    now bring me the Indic roots of “beyotch”

    Well, it’s a distortion/contraction of the word “bahenji”, obviously ;)

  5. it takes five fingers to make a fist in order to punch
    Oooh and that line is straight from a Hindi movie* :-) Now you are A.E.C.F.I. Uncle (all english comes from india).

    This is embarassing. I really had no idea.

  6. “nigga please” is a distortion of the rural punjabi word “niggeh” which means to make cozy or warm. Originally it meant, give me some warmth, make me feel cozy, but now in its more urban form it has become sarcastic.

  7. Inneresting. Though actually arrack is a Turkish/Middle Eastern/Greek thing (I think it may extend to Iran too) and since the numbers from one to ten are practically the same in Farsi and Kurdish, “paanch” may not necessarily be from India. Sorry to bust ECFI uncle’s bubble ;)

  8. Ah, Wiki has enlightened me – there are several types of arak. OK, I take it back. Sorry ECFI uncle.

  9. since we’re talking about sepia booZe entomology, lets not forget our friends ‘shiva’s regal’ and ‘ramana vodka’ – no sirreebabu, it all comes from india.

  10. “paanch” may not necessarily be from India

    All the cooking sources I’ve seen give the origin of punch as desi. I read several, but only quoted Wikipedia. Whether they’re right or wrong, there’s a consensus on this.

  11. Ennis, excellent post. May I humbly request that this post be filed under humor too? It’s just so that I can get a nice chuckle at some later point of time when I read it in leisure.

    Though I am sure this Indic word will not be cropping up in spelling bees any time soon! Mulligatawny (pepper water/soup) still rules as the bete noir of eager spellers across North America. Any tougher words to spell?

    And some quick “punch” etym: The other, more common, non-drawerdropper meaning of the word apparently comes from Old French via Middle English. Which, as I am sure you’ll agree, is a Western conspiracy to shroud its true Hindi roots which you have uncovered ;)

  12. A most interesting observation Ennis! According to the Middle East Bootlegger’s Lexicon Rama = Rum, Brahma = Brandy, Vishnu = Visky:) Dial the number, utter these words, and within minutes they’re at your door with the goodies! Peace

  13. UMM – that is f’ing hilarious!! Where do they do that, in the Emirates? Saudi?

    I think Chivas = Shiva’s is very believable.

  14. Jai:

    I thought that quote was by Amitabh Bachchan from the early 90s movie “Hum”.

    Probably, I just know I’d heard an angry young man say it in Hindi in some film. Though Shatru would’ve said it meaner, what a hardass.

    Ennis:

    “nigga please” is a distortion of the rural punjabi word “niggeh” which means to make cozy or warm.

    Perfect. Now I’ll have a defence when I utter those words at Irie Jamaican bar on my next visit. :-) “OWWW, why are you hurting me? I said ‘niggeh’! Niggeeeeeeh!!!!”

  15. AC & Jeet,

    Thanks, guys. My brain seems to be working quite well today ;)

    Neha,

    Probably, I just know I’d heard an angry young man say it in Hindi in some film. Though Shatru would’ve said it meaner, what a hardass.

    Aargh, blasphemy. Nobody was more of a hardass than Big B in his “angry young man” mode.

    “Tum mujhe dhoond rahe the, aur main tumara intezaar kar raha tha”*. I think it’s from “Coolie” (maybe wrong — Deewar ?). What a totally badass, swaggeringly macho line. Supercool stuff.

    *”You’ve been looking for me, and I’ve been waiting for you”. Amitabh is nonchalantly sitting on the floor of a warehouse somewhere, leaning against a wall, when these thugs burst in because they want a fight with him and Amitabh knows they’ve been frantically searching for him. He says it in a really laconic way. Great stuff. Pure 1970s Bachchan cool.

  16. Hi SP, I was referring to the scene in Dubai. I’ve never been to Saudi, but, some of my friends have. Apparently, it is extremely difficult to get popular brands there. Most people rely on lethal home-brewed stuff over there; concoctions that need to be mixed with three parts water to form something similar in alcoholic content to Whiskey, are the norm there. People simply wont give up:)

  17. To continue the ECIF discussion, I have my own little story to share. When I was in ninth grade, there was this girl that my friend Sadia and I had a slight problem with. Long, boring story and grudges die hard at the immature age of 14 etc. etc.

    So, this girl had a boyfriend named Ben and she asked us what his “Indian name” would be. Some quick (stupid) thinking later, we came up with Besharam. For the rest of the year, we cracked up whenever we heard her yell “Besharam! Sweety!” across the cafeteria. Yeah, I’m not proud of myself but it WAS funny.

    Jai, Amitabh had his moments, but lets not forget Dharmendra. He could be funny AND yell “Kuttey!” in the most convincing manner. Sigh.

  18. Punch was the first word I ever learnt in my own personal quest to tell people everything is Indian. I was a kid and the only punch I had drunk was fruit punch at a birthday party, but still, I was armed with the knowledge. I realised no one cared about this. Suddenly, come adulthood, stood around a punchbowl I whip out the same etymology party piece and it’s “oh I didn’t know that” and “gosh, how droll. Will you sleep with me?” I’m sure it’s been just the same for you Ennis.

    Technophobicgeek, the others may be insensitive, but I heard you. Broken heart eh? Sorry to hear that. Go ahead, I’m listening.

  19. While we are talking about alcohol, the best Bollywood drunk scene of all time has to be Dharmendra’s soo-cide scene atop the water-tower in Sholay.

    Followed closely by Amitabh Bachchan nursing the wounds on his mirror-image after a drunken brawl (?). Which movie was that?

  20. the most realistic bollywood drunk scene I have scene, has to be the one of Jackie Shroff, passed out piss drunk in a sleazy ‘theka’, with multiple booze bottles piled up in front of him-Johnny Walker,Old Monk Rum casks, a couple of wine bottles and amidst them all, in a sea of beer bottles, you’ll find..yes my friend,look closely.. a bottle of Brut aftershave!.

  21. Technophobicgeek, the others may be insensitive, but I heard you. Broken heart eh? Sorry to hear that.

    Ugggh BB, for the time being, a large burrito, a ton of French fries, rich dark chocolate cake and bottles of wine have provided temporary solace. But thanks for the offer, bro!

  22. T’geek, I really just wanted to say “Go ahead, I’m listening” like Kelsey Grammer, I wasn’t expecting you to spill it in public! But enjoy that burrito pal. I got a free steak today. Food doesn’t break your heart. Trust in the food!

  23. “Followed closely by Amitabh Bachchan nursing the wounds on his mirror-image after a drunken brawl (?). Which movie was that?”

    Amar Akbar Anthony?

  24. I wasn’t expecting you to spill it in public!

    Oh, read any of the marriage/dating related threads on this site. You’ll find out that spilling in ‘public’ is kinda acceptable here on some occasions :)

  25. Paanch or Punch can be the official SM drink. To bed with lassi, chaash, jal jeera etc etc. This is the real deal!

  26. DesiDudeinGotham – it was Amar Akbar Anthony (and shame on anyone for confusing their various AB scenes! bad desis!). It’s right after he does the My Name is Anthony Gonsalves song for the Easter party at the Catholic Gymkhana, and Jenny’s bodyguard (Zabasco?) beats him up, and then he tries to put a band-aid on his reflection in the mirror and says “agar tum itna nahin piyela hota, to voh jhadiya tum ko maar sakta? Naaaahin”

    My all time favourite is still Dharmendra’s “suicide” scene in Sholay too.

  27. Amitabh in ‘Sharaabi”? Many drunken scenes with many bottles. Forget if there was a mirror somewhere.