Hey Gilpas, Gujilepaas, enna Petera?!

Ah, the beauty of Madras Tamizh! So we have listened to Kamal Hassan talk Madras Tamizh in so many films and have cheered him on with a whistle. People who watched NVOK (Who wants to be a Millionaire Tamil version) wouldn’t have missed the episode where he speaks about Madras Tamizh and his love for it. While searching for a completely different subject his video popped into my “You might be interested in this” option and it inspired me to write this post.

Every time we hear these Madras slang words in a movie, it would be used in a derogatory sense, to curse someone. But only when I researched the etymology of these words, I got to understand what it truly meant. And I was pleasantly surprised by it. You might be too, check it out!

Also when you read the word, think for a second on what “you” think the word means. And then read the actual meaning!


What’s your first thought when you think of this word? Does an image of a person dressed shabbily , with torn clothes, walking on the street pop up? 

True meaning – Foreigner;Citizen of another country; stranger.

How cool is that?? I blame the old movies for somehow injecting the wrong image of Paradesi into our head. Makes sense now why Bala named his movie Paradesi, doesn’t it? 🙂


When you read this, you probably think its some word used for scolding or criticizing. 

True meaning – A lazy person [ From Telugu. It’s also possible that this word was derived from “Somberi” Tamil word]

So…your first guess is not entirely wrong.


Hmm..a relative of somari you think? Haha fat chance.

True meaning – One who feels no shame; நாணமற்றவன்.  [source: University of Madras Lexicon]

Beimaan in Urdu means a person who has no ethics/ scruples/ integrity and Beimaani means the trait of                  dishonesty.

Yep. It amazed me as well when Kamal explained this so beautifully in NVOK, the Tamil show.

Saavu graaki

Now we have heard auto drivers say that. What do you think might be the meaning?

True meaning – “Kraaki is from the Sanskrit “graahaka”, which means a person who is carriedPossibly from Tamil saavu (death) and graaki (buyer) implying “customer of Death”.

Kinda implies “Why do you want to be a customer of death?”. No wonder the auto drivers use it so often.


Ooooh..the word that’s been used by everyone to imply getting something for free. Ever wonder what O.C stood for? 

True meaning –  O. C. does mean Free-of-cost.  But here’s the story behind it. During East India Company rule, official communication was stamped “O. C.” meaning “On Company’s service” and exempted from postage charges or stamps. The word “O. C.” gradually got to mean something which was offered free-of-cost .   [http://www.thehindu.com/fr/2005/08/26/stories/2005082600210300.htm]  


We’ve heard it in so many movies now. What do you think it means? 

True meaning – Derived from the Sanskrit word “Kasmalam” meaning dirty, discardable [Wikipedia]


Does the image of a woman talking loud nonsense pop into your head? Check out where the word originated from.

True meaning – Noisy. Derived from Urdu “bazaar” market.

I don’t know why there’s no male version to this word. Hmm…something to ponder.


This one’s easy. No guess needed.

True meaning – Means “Go straight”. Possibly derived from Tamil world “Neelam” to denote length. Somewhere it seemed to have lost its original meaning and got twisted to “Neetaa” to denote straightness.

Interesting how the original got twisted right? 🙂


Again, a cursory word would be our guess. Right?

True meaning – Per wiki, the word’s origin is actually ‘Kaimpendatti’, which means ‘Widow (I don’t know in which language)’. Originally it was ‘Kaimpendatti Magane’, which evolved as ‘Kaimpendatti Paiya’ for a guy and then ‘kamminatti paiya’ as the language evolved, finally to ‘Kamminatti’ and ‘Kamnaati’. [source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Madras_Bashai]

Yeah. That’s a lot  of info.

Well, there you have it! This was supposed to be a small cup of guilt for those who think Madras bashai contains just cursing/swearing words.Talking Madras baashai/slang might be easy but when you get to know the meaning or etymology of them, it’s so interesting! It looks like this beautiful slang was influenced by so many different languages and formed a language of its own. If you guys think any of these is incorrect,or if you know the meaning of other Madras Bashai words, lemme know!

Soooo….overa dagulu udaama, vuutaanda poi naashta thunutu, apdiyae apeet aagiko. Dainksba!! Varta!!

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padhs2k Written by:

Another dream-chaser.


    • padhs2k
      September 5

      Lol! Ithu maraimugama yarayum thitalaye 😉 But yeah, I was able to find the etymology/origin for only few of the Madras words, rest like Pikkali, galeej, dumeelu, dappangoli, etc.,. are all there but there is no history anywhere to find out how it all originated 🙁

  1. September 5

    Loved the post! Had known the meaning & origin of few words here, and some were new to me (I mean the origin, not the word :D)

    • padhs2k
      September 5

      Thanks Kaushik! Happy to see you here! 🙂 Glad to have enriched your vocabulary :p

  2. Anonymous
    September 5

    nasta thunniya-good thinking and interesting

  3. vasanthakumari
    September 5

    Interesting research.no one will beat loose Mohan for talking madras bashai.appettu.that means OK.
    Vethuvettu — eligible for nothing
    Pammathu —pasangu
    Zuzubi. — easy

    • padhs2k
      September 5

      True, Loose Mohan is the best.
      Pammathu is Pasangu? I didn’t know that.

  4. Nitya J
    September 5

    Too Good Padhma. Haven’t heard in a long while. I should watch some clips to refresh my memory.

    • padhs2k
      September 5

      Thanks Nitya! 🙂 Watch Pammal K Sambantham or VasoolRaja MBBS for a lovely time and to refresh your memory. I love both those movies!

  5. I think most of us are familiar with this slang from movies. I don’t remember listening to these words in real-life situations, except on rare occasions. Location might matter, but still… Nyway, good to know that not all these words are “bad”. I might want to use some of them myself, now that there is an excuse 😛

    Destination Infinity

    • padhs2k
      September 8

      You’re right. They have become almost obsolete now sadly, because they were all interpreted as “bad” words. Movies still don’t want to give up on them…and they don’t need to as they are kinda cool at least most of them are! Goes for you too, be cool, use Madras bashai! 🙂

  6. newyorknix
    April 14

    kaimben means widow in pure Tamil, vidavai is not a Tamil word I think

    • padhs2k
      May 17

      Ah Newyorknix with a Tamil dictionary in his head! Awesome. And thank you for the words. Visit me again soon!

Yes, go on, tell me what you think!