Note: This glossary provides meanings for the words in the stories on this site. The words may carry other meanings in other contexts. Also, being updated as and when necessary.
2. All the alternative spellings are not given here.
Akkayya: Alt. Akka. 1. Older sister either by blood or according to family tree. See relational terms. 2. A form of address with reference to female adults.
Akshintalu: Alt. Akshitalu. Rice mixed with turmeric usually used in religious festivities. At weddings, the yellow rice are thrown on the bride and groom, a gesture of blessing.
Amma: 1. Mother 2. A form of address for adult females, especially in higher social strata. 3. A term of endearment for women, possibly for all ages.
Annaa: 1/16th of a rupee during pre-Independent India (1947)
Anna or Annayya: 1.Older brother, either by blood or according to the family tree. See relational terms. 2. A form of address with reference to male adults.
Appa: a variant of akka, older sister.
Atlataddi: A playful, festive day in October for female young adults. Girls play on the swings and other group games while fasting and in the hope of getting loving and caring husbands.
Attayya: Alt. Attamma, Atta garu. A relational term. 1. Father’s sister; 2. Mother’s brother’s wife; 3. Mother-in-law; 4. A form of address for adult, unrelated women.
Ayya: 1. A form of address for older, male adults; 2. Father
Babayi: Father’s younger brother
Babayya: 1. A form of address for older male adults; 2. Father
Babu: A form of addressing male persons of higher social and/or economic status. 2. A term of endearment in regard to male children.
Bidi: Tobacco rolled in a leaf. Pl. bidis. Alt. Beedi
Cha: A term of disparagement.
Cent: (geological survey term) 1/40th of an acre
Deepavali: Alt. Diwali. A festival of lights.
Dhoti: A 3-yard, plain material which men wear auround their waist.
Emayyaa: Form of address, singular, for male adults (informal)
Engili: Saliva pollution
Ganji: Rice broth. One of the staple meals for the poor.
Garu: Honorific term suffixed to a name, male or female, and also relational terms.
Golla: Cowherd caste/community
Harati: Alt. Aarti. Lighting camphor and offer to god or people on auspicious occasions.
Harijan: A term coined by Gandhi for the untouchable people
Harikatha: Stories of gods, sang by traditional performers. Also, metaphorical phrase for any long-winded speeches.
Idli: Steamed rice cake usually eaten for breakfast or lunch.
Illarikam: A custom of son-in-law moving in with his wife’s family.
Jari: Gold thread woven into expensive material.
-ji: A honorific suffix that can be suffixed to names, male and female.
Jindabad: A kind of best wishes. Often used as a slogan shouted during processions. See Murdabad.
Kaapu: One of the non-brahmin castes/community
Kalipurushudu: A personification of time in Hindu mythology, supposedly, all the actions in the universe happen according to his ordinance and also responsible for ending the universe in due course.
Kanyaadaanam: Giving a daughter in marriage to a groom
Karanam: Village accountant
Katuka: Home-made black paste, similar to eyeliner. In the paste, it was made by burning clean white cloth soaked in caster oil and mashing further into a smooth paste.
Khaddar: Cloth made of handmade thread.
Kova: Milk and sugar cake
Kumkuma: Red powder used as dots on foreheads and also in rituals
Maada: A unit of currency made of gold.
Maadiga: The tanner caste
Maala: One of the castes among untouchables
Mamool: The money paid on a regular basis for service as a custom. In this case it is a bribe.
Mandapam: A raised patio, usually attached to a temple, and intended for people to gather and discuss local affairs and settle disputes.
Mantra: Text for chanting repeatedly.
Munsif: Village administrator.
Murdabad: A slogan like “jindabad,” wishing somebody his death. See jindabad.
Naidu: One of the nonbrahmin castes
Nallamandu: Intoxicant substance, similar to marijuana.
Namaskaaram: Alt. Namaste. Folding hands in deference. Namaskaram is more common in Andhra Pradesh.
Nanna: Alt. Nayanaa: 1. Father; 2. Affectionate form of address for males, irrespective of age.
Olammo: A term of exclamation
Orey: An informal of address, usually used among males of equal or lower status.
Osey: An informal of address, usually used among females of equal or lower status.
Paan: A kind of edible leaf used to make a roll with lime, crushed betal nut and condiments.
Paisa: Alt. Naya paisa: One hundredth of a rupee. Currency introduced after independence.
Pakodi: Alt. Pakora. Deep fried made of chickpea flour, salt, pepper, onions and vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage or broccoli. Similar ot vegetable fritters.
Pancangam: Lunar calendar
Pancayat: An administrative branch at village level
Pancayati: A legal branch for settling disputes at village level.
Pandal: A huge tarpaulin tent temporarily put up for special occasions.
Palloo: The loose end of a saree, hanging over a woman’s shoulder.
Peerlu festival: A muslim festival. Although it is significant for muslims, usually Hindus also participate in the festivities.
Pelli chuupulu: First step in arranged marriage. The prospective groom and family pay a visit to the prospective bride and her family.
Perantaalu: 1. Woman saint, Village goddess
Prasadam: Food offered to god.
Relational terminology: In Telugu culture older persons are addressed using relational terms even when there is no blood relationship. Most common terms are attayya [female adult], mamayya or mavayya [male adult], akkayya [female adult within the same generation], annayya [male adultu in the same generation], etc.
Sampangi: A bright orange or white flower known for its strong aroma. Common in coastal Andhra Pradesh.
Sanyasi: A person who rejects all mortal attachments. Ascetic. Pl. Sanyasis
Saukar: Rich landlord; businessman.
Sri: 1. Goddess Lakshmi. 2. An honorific prefix.
Srihari: A name of a Hindu god. Alt. Hari.
Swami: A Hindu revered for his religious austerity, usually detached. –ji a suffix of respect.
Thali: Alt. Tali. A symbol of a woman’s marital status. A small pendant tied around bride’s neck during wedding ceremony.
Thulasi:Holy basil, a reverential plant for Hindus.
Tiffin: A common term for breakfast, lunch a snacks that go with evening tea.
Uttareeyam: Alt. Paipanca. A piece of material men throw on their shoulder.
Yajnam: A ritual; an act of worship
Vedas: Hindu scriptures. Adj. Vedic.
Viyyapuraalu: The mothers of the couple are referred at viyyapuraalu. Viyyam is the relationship of the two parties that is created as a result of the marriage. The fathers are Viyyankudu to each other.
Voni: A three yard piece, equivalent of one half of a sari, worn by pre-adolescent girls—one end tucked at the waist and the other end thrown over the shoulder. A transitional garment from frocks to saris.