Some Newly Discovered Words in Pashto


Abdul Hai Habibi


Among those words which are close to the Pashto language one is maihan of Farsi, which means a house or abode. In Lughat-e Fars (Fars Dictionary) its meaning has been provided as a country.

Firdawsi says:

     When someone like you comes here as a guest

     This hapless soul is bestowed with an abode.

Ansuri states:

     When they take over my country’s soot

     What is left to my tired soul.

The roots of this word are also present in the names of some cities such as Maihana (a city in Khorasan), Kharmisan (Khurshaid Maihan, a village in Bukhara), Khashmeisan (a city in Kheiwa), Keshmaihan (a fort in Merv), and others. Purdawud, a contemporary researcher, provides the original form of this Persian word, in Avesta and Pahlavi languages as follows: The word maihan was maethana or maethanya in Avesta, which appears in all volumes of Avesta such as Yasht, Vendidad and Yasna and its meaning is a country or abode.

1. Based on the structure of words which have found their way from Avesta through the Pahlavi language to Persian the maethana of Avesta becomes maihan in Persian such as:

Daeva of Avesta is dev in Dari and daeb in Pashto.

Daena of Avesta is din in Dari (this word does not have a Sami root but has an Aryan root).

Maegha of Avesta is mubagh in Dari (cloud).

2. The (th) of Avesta is converted to the (ha) of Dari such as:

Mithra of Avesta is mehr in Dari (mir, lmar of Pashto).

Chithra of Avesta is chehra in Dari (tsera of Pashto).

3. The original root of meathana is me’at which in Persian means to stay and the Pashto misht, meaning resident and dweller, is from the same root.

4. The meathana of Avesta became mehan in Pahlavi and became man and khanak in some instances and the khanuman of Persian is from this root meaning a country. It is mena in Pashto.

5. In Sanskrit mandira means a house. This was the Sanskrit translation of the maethana of Avesta. The first part of which is man and the later part of the word is the dera of Pashto.



We see that the hamza of Avesta (ae) converts to the passive (ya). Such as the daeva becomes dev (daeb in Pashto), and (th) becomes (ha) in Persian and becomes the passive (ya) in Pashto such as chitra becomes tsera. As a result the maethana of Avesta has remained in usage in Pashto until the present time as mena. The mehan and the Persian meihan and man are from the same root. Mena until this day means a country, abode and house in Pashto. For example it is said: may your mena (house) be ruined, where is Ahmad’s mena (house)?

A Pashto folk sonnet says:

     They loaded the wears of their mena (household)

     Where will my beloved put up his abode?



The ap of Avesta, apa of Sanskrit, api of Old Persian (Fars), aab of Pahlavi, auba of Pashto and aab, aaw and aw of Persian is a common word in all these languages. The afant of Avesta, apomand of Pahlavi, and the awand (container, dish) of Persian and the apavant of Sanskrit are from the same root.

In Avesta the eighth month of the year was called an ayaan. According to the former Aryans it was the name of the goddess of water. This name appears more than 40 times in Avesta and in accordance to linguistic rules it is the plural of aap with the addition of (an). Based on this rule a large number of words were pluralized such as rawan, shaban, ateshan, sugandan, andohan etc. In Pahlavi apaan is commonly used such as khashmak apaan (meaning a spring) khan apaan (a source of water).

As such a lot of old words in Avesta, Pahlavi, Sanskrit and Fars have been derived from the root of auba (water) and this root is found in the names of places such as the Obeh of Herat or Aubato which was originally Aubatoon meaning the place of water. North of Kandahar in Uruzgan and at the foothills of the Kuzhak mountain, 30 miles from Chaman, there is a place with this name.



The eleventh month of the year was Vahumana in Avesta and in accordance to the old Aryans it was the goddess of savior of livestock. This name has two parts, vahu and manah. The first part of the word, in old Fars, was also vahu. It was vasu in Sanskrit, vah in Pahlavi, and bah in Persian. The second part is mana in Avesta, manas in Sanskrit, menishn in Pahlavi, and manish in Persian. These words have been derived from the same root which is man. In old Fars and Avesta man means to judge and speculate and later it means to bring. It is mean in English and meinen in German. In Persian it has exactly the same meaning as in Pashto. The actual word is (man ash).

In Persian the name of the elventh month is Bahman and Vohuman in Pahlavi meaning ba manash.

Now we will study both parts of the word in Pashto. The first part vahu, meaning good, is present in (wa and wawa) which in a child’s vocabulary means good, such as (koko-wawa), which means good and cheerful or (wah) which is used in place of surprise and acclaim. The other is (ho), which in Pashto is used to mean confirmation and means good. The second part of the word is (man) from which the words manal, manna, and manasht remain from this old root.



In Persian a sheep is called a gosfand and this word was gasospenta in Avesta, gospand in Pahlavi and it was applied to all domestic animals and was not specifically the name of a sheep. The first part of the word is gao, meaning a cow, while the second part is spenta and the Pashto spin is from the same root. Hence the the Persian gosfand is not the actual name of a sheep. We see the word maesha in Avesta and the Pashto meizh and the Persian mesh are from the same root. The pusa of Pashto is also a very old word which was pasu in Avesta and was used to call every small domestic animal. This word was also used as fshu, which is pecus in Latin and the Pashto pesho=peshi=cat is from the same root.



Since dog is an animal which protects the house and the flocks the ancient Aryans revered this animal. This word was span in Avesta and svan in Sanskrit. Yaqut Hamavi writes: That the name of Asfahan has been derived from asbah which means a dog. In Avesta sun and in Armenian shun mean a dog. In Avest spaka means dog-like, in ancient Fars saka or spaka, in the Median language spako and in Persian sbaka are the names of a dog. The spei (masculine) and spei (feminine) and other adjectives such as speitana and speitob (dog-like qualities) are from this old root.



In Pashto a hedgehog is called a zeizhgei or gezhgei. This name has been derived from zeizh=zeig. In Vendidad, the second part of Avesta, this name is dujaka. It was zhozhak in Pahlavi and it became zhozha in Persian. The root of this word is close to the Pashto name and it appears repeatedly in Pahlavi books.



In Avesta and Old Fars this word was aspa. The actual element of this word was aspaa or aspi and it was asva in Sanskrit. The Latin name is equus. In Aryan languages the root of the word is ak=as which means a fast moving animal. The asuaspa of Avesta and the asuasva of Sanskrit meant a swift horse and the name of a Median king was Ispabuara meaning a horse-carrier. The Pahlavi aspavar, asabar, aspabarak  and asvar are all from the same root and Arabs pluralized this word as asawara. The aas (masculine) and aspa (feminine) have the same root and this word has maintained its old originality until the present time. As mentioned in Avesta and Sanskrit the word (aas) means swiftness and agility. The letters (seen) and (ha) always intermix such as huma-suma. The ahuk of Pahlavi and the ahu (gazelle) of Persian are from this root, which is a fast and swift animal. These names have been extracted from the asu root which means swift, fast and quick in Avesta and Sanskrit.

Now you will see the transformation of this word in Pashto: Aas (male hourse), aspa (female), ausie (gazelle) and selal (to breath deeply) all have the old element of aas and in particular, ausie-hosie, has remained in its old form. Aas and aspa have also maintained their original form.



Aspast (asfast) is a grass which in Persian is now called reshqa or yonja. This grass was prevalent in the past and it was considered to be a special plant of Aryan rangelands. It was aspast in Pahlavi as mentioned in Pahlavi books. The old form of the word was aspesta which became pespesta in Seryani. According to Ibn Dareed, the Arab writer (eleventh century CE), this word was Arabized to fasfasa whose plural is fasafas. In the Mazendari dialects of Persian aspast, until this day, means alfalfa. The short forms of the word were aspas and sepast. Eshaq Atama says:

     It was not able to eat a proper aspast (meal)

     Since the rangeland was full of thorns.

This word is in use, until the present time, as speshta (spesta) in Kandahar and has maintained its old form with the exception that some people convert the letter (seen) to a (sheen).



Auqaab or shaheen (Arabic plural shawaheen) was a famous raptor among the ancient Aryans. It has been mentioned twice in Avesta as seana. European experts of Avesta have translated it as an eagle. It appears as syena in Sanskrit.

In Avesta Kohe Baba, upairi-saena, has been mentioned which means higher than the flight of a falcon. In Bandhish it is stated that Aparsen is higher than the Alburz mountain, whose peak is in Sakistan and foothills are in Khuzistan. In another instances it is written that the source of the Hari Rud is in Aparsen and the Merv Rud and the Balkh rivers also start in Aparsen and Bamikan (Bamiyan)...

Marquart states: The  upairi-saena of Avesta and the Aparsen of Pahlavi are the western section of the Hundu Kush mountains, that is the Kohe Baba range This old word (sena) became shaheen in Persian and it is shaen in Pashto. Pashtuns until this day name their sons Shaen and it seems that this custom existed in old times also as a European orientalist has named 22 heroes in Armenian, Turkish and Arabic languages. In Shahnama the name of the daughter of the king of Kabul has been mentioned as Seindukht. The first part of this word is seen-shaen and the later is dukht meaning the daughter of Shaen.

In Ferodin Yasht of Avesta the names of people and families have been noted as saen and shaen. This shows that the saena of Avesta and the sena of Sanskrit later became saen and the Pashto shaen has the same old form. The Persian shaheen is from the same family. The orientalist, Geiger, writes that in the Wakhi language, which is a branch of the Pashto language, this word has remained as shain.



The old root of these words is vaza which stems from the infinitive vaz which in Avesta meant to fly. Baz in Pashto and Persian is the name of a bird. Bazo, bazak and bazkoi are the diminutive forms of this word and names of people. The Pashto basha and Pahlavi washa and washak (Arabized form washiq) is a word derived from the same root. The Pashto wazr  (feather) has the same root, and bazbaz,  and bazedal, which signify the flight of insects, and the wazidan of Persian all have the ancient Avesta root of (waz-baz-baaz-waaz).



In Avesta the name of fowl is kahrkatat, which has been derived from the sound of a fowl in the form of a noun such as the Pashto sounds karr karr, karrahar and katahar, which are vocal sounds. In the Pahlavi interpretation of Avesta this name has been written as kark and in Persian it means a fowl which is sitting on eggs. In Pashto this word is cherg (masculine), cherga (feminine), chergan and chergi   (plural) are in use until the present time.