Folktales Translated in Hindi | Glossary


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There are many a term which appear in these folktales. Although most of the terms have been explained in the books themselves as their footnotes still they are given there in very short. Here are the terms, arranged alphabetically, explained in detail....

Pronounced as Akaaraa, Akara is a kind of snack item of Nigeria. It is made by soaking a kind of beans (black-eyed beans or red beans), taking off its skin and grinding it into a fine paste. Salt, pepper, onion pieces are added to it and small balls of about 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches diameter are fried in deep oil till golden brown. 6-7 Akaaraa balls are enough to satisfy one for about 3 hours.

Alaabe (Nigeria)  is the man who makes marks on the faces of people according to their tribes. In Africa there still live tribes and most tribes have some kind of marks on their faces to recognize their own peopele and to differentiate from others.

God in Guinea, a West African country.

Amala (pronounced as Amaalaa) is also very popular food of Nigeria and is eaten with meat soup. Its color is a bit on gray side.

An Amadumbe is a a potato-like tuber that resembles a sweet potato. It has a rich earthy flavor and a starchy flesh. In South Africa, it is a very common food.

Ananse (Tortoise)
Pronounced as Anaanse is an intelligent tortoise of West African folktales - especially of Ghana. His first name is Kweku because he was born on Wednesday. Usually he is known as Ananse only.

Anansi (Spider)

Rabbit, tortoise, hyena, lion, monkey, frog, hippo, spider  are the main characters of African folktales.

Appalachian Region (In Eastern USA)
Appalachian Region is the Eastern region of USA, including several states - starting from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York.

A piece of cloth worn over the dress to save one’s dress from being spoiled while cooking.

Armadillos are mammals with a leathery armor shell. Of the 20 varieties of armadillo, all but one live in South America. Armadillo is a Spanish word meaning "little armored one” and refers to the bony plates that cover the back, head, legs, and tail of most of these odd looking creatures. Armadillos are the only living mammals that wear such shells.

Baabaa Yaagaa
Baba Yaga stories are very famous Russian stories.

Baker is the man who bakes.

Baking is different from frying, roasting etc processes of cooking food. Baking is done in oven. Baking is very common and normal practice in western countries.

A barrel is one of several units of volume applied in various contexts; there are dry barrels, fluid barrels (such as the UK beer barrel and US beer barrel), oil barrels and so on. For historical reasons the volumes of some barrel units are roughly double the volumes of others; volumes in common usage range from about 100 liters (22 imperial gallons; 26 US gallons) to 200 liters (44 imperial gallons; 53 US gallons). In many connections the term "drum" is used almost interchangeably with "barrel".

Beans is generic term for any kind of seed grown in a pod (legumes). They can be green also with pod like green beans, cluster beans etc; or dry beans also like soy beans, broad beans, black-eyed beans, all whole pulses (lentils, black lentils, green lentils etc). Here beans means dry beans like black-eyed beans.

Beaver (Nevalaa in Hindi), a hedgehog type animal, is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. It is found in North America and Eurasia. Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges (homes).

Berries – it is generic word for a kind of small sized fruit which grows on bushes. Some examples of berries are blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry etc - they are very popular in North America and Canada. In India berries are like Indian Ber or "Jharberee Ke Ber" or Phaalasaa which also grow on bushes. Umdoni berry is found in Southern Africa.


Bride Price
In many African countries it is customary to pay bride price to the bride's parents before marrying her. It is like reverse dowry as it is paid in India by bride's parents to bridegroom's parents before marrying her to him.

Bush Buck
In Nigeria bush means wild or related to forest. In South Africa there is a tribe called Bushmen. They also live in forest and are savage.

Bushel is a unit of dry measure containing 4 pecks, equivalent in the US (and formerly in England) to 2150.42 cubic inches or 35.24 liters (Winchester bushel) and in Great Britain to 2219.36 cubic inches or 36.38 liters (Imperial bushel).

Butcher Bird
Butcher Bird takes its origin from the bird's habit of impaling its prey on a thorn while eating it, and leaving the remains there to decay. It is mentioned in South African tales.

Calabash is the dried outer cover of pumpkin type of fruit in Nigeria. It is like a clay pitcher and is used to keep dry and wet things.

Canadian Jay
Canadian Jay is a crow like bird

Cape Town
Cape Town is one of the most captivating cities of South Africa and the second mot populated city of South Africa after Johannesberg. It is most famous as the harbor of South Africa.

An herb like tropical plant with a long stock, found mostly underwater, that yields a nutritious starch. It is a common food eaten in Nigeria. It is prepared like Yam and eaten with meat soup.

Camel Thorn or Giraffe Thorn
A thorny tree found in South Africa

A kind of worm, about 2-3” long, with several legs

Chestnut is a kind of walnut like fruit, dark brown in color, which is eaten after roasting on fire like corn ear.

One's personal God for Nigerians.

A loose wrapping worn on a dress to cover oneself or to keep one warm.

Cousins are the brothers and sisters who are the children of mother’s or father’s brothers and sisters

Coyote (Wolf)
A small size wolf who is very cunning and normally outwits most animals, mostly found in Western America. Found in American and Canadian folktales.

The crone is a stock character in folklore and fairy tale, an old woman. In some stories, she is disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing. The Crone is also an archetypal figure, a Wise Woman. She is marginalized by her exclusion from the reproductive cycle, and her proximity to death places her in contact with occult wisdom. As a character type, the crone shares characteristics with the hag. Otherwise the word "crone" is a less common synonym for "old woman,"

Cubit is a unit of measurement used in very olden days. It was used in Solomon's time. But it is mentioned in our Indian Mahaabhaarat book also. One cubit = 18", or 45 cms, or 1/2 a yard, or according to old measurement One Haath (while Haath is the length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger).

Czar or Tzar or Tsar is an informal title for certain high-level officials in the United States and the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom, the term tsar is more loosely used to refer to high-profile appointments who devote their skills to one particular area. This was a title of the ruler of Russia before 1917.

Medicine man word is used in many African folktales. This man is very versatile. He may treat his subjects with herbs or Ju Ju or something else. So whoever treats people from their sickness is called medicine man there. In those times there was never doctor there, that is why while translating these stories this word has been translated as "doctor".

In India the dowry is given by bride's parents to groom's parents, but in  Nigeria it is given by the groom to bride's parents. If the bride does not want to live with her husband for any reason, and comes back to her parents, they have to pay the dowry given by the groom back to him. Most of the time they are not in a position to return it, so they sell their daughter as a slave  and the money they receive out of it, they pay back to the groom. In Nigeria slave's condition is very bad. Nobody wants to be a slave of anybody.

Eba or Ebba is a kind of Nigerian food. This is a starchy food made from Cassava flour by boiling it in water and making it in a lump. It is eaten with meat soup. It is rather unappetizing to eat all by itself.

Elf (plural Elves), is supernatural being in Germanic mythology and folklore. Elf is prominently associated with sexual threats, seducing people and causing them harm.

Esere Beans (Nigeria, Western. Story No 33)
These are the poisonous beans which are used to test a man if he is a witch or not. If he vomits the beans, he is not a witch; but if he does not vomit them, he is a witch, and then he dies a very painful death - thus if he is not a witch he vomits the beans otherwise he dies.

Fatter House
In Nigerian tribes, there is a custom of Fatter House. There the marriages of girls are settled in a very young age, so till they reach their marriageable age, they are taken care by their parents very carefully. They live in these Fatter House, they don't do any work in the house except eating, drinking and playing with their friends. The day they come out of that house, they are married and go to their husband's house.

Foo Foo
Foo Foo is a kind of food eaten in Nigeria. It comes from a tree.


The gondola is a traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat, well suited to the conditions of the Venetian lagoon.

Gourd is the dried outer cover of a pumpkin like fruit.

A hag is a wizened old woman, or a kind of fairy or goddess having the appearance of such a woman, often found in folklore and children's tales such as Hansel and Gretel. Hags are often seen as malevolent, but may also be one of the chosen forms of shape shifting deities.

Hare (Rabbit)
Hare is different from Rabbit in size and look. Hare is not a domestic animal and live on the ground as opposed to Rabbit who is a domestic animal and lives in burrows. The hare, like tortoise, appears in countless African folktales as an excellent illustration of the principle that those who are not strong must be clever.

The Spirit of Frost. In American Indian folktales.


The trickster Hlakanyana is one of the most important mythical figures in Zulu folklore of Southern Africa. But characters similar to Hlakanyana are also found in other stories of other indigenous languages. See also Sankhambi below.

Hyena (pronounced as Haheenaa) is a kind of large dog with stripes or spots. It is a carnivorous animal. It is a very common character of African folktales.

Iktomi (Spider Fairy)
Iktomi is a spider fairy.

Magic or Tonaa Totakaa or Black Magic. The people who practice it can tell many things, do many good and bad things. This may be understood more clearly after reading a few Nigerian stories. It is very famous there.

Ju Ju People
Ju Ju people of Nigeria are like Ojhaa of India who help to cure the patients of Black Magic and even to do Black Magic themselves on somebody. They can even call the Spirit.

Kilt is knee-length garment with pleats at the rear originating in the traditional dress of the men in the Scottish highlands of the 16th century.

Kola Nut
Kola nut is the seed of an abundantly found fruit Kola in Nigeria and West African countries. It is used there like Indian betel nut (Supaaree). People chew it as and when they want it, keep it in their pockets and when they meet their friends give a piece to him too.

Kweku, sometimes given as Kweku Tsin is a confusing name as Ananse or Anansi. Sometimes this name is given to the main spider character and somewhere it is mentioned as the son of Anansi's son.

A Laird is a member of the Scottish gentry, who bears the designation Laird of X, where X is the place name during 15th or 16th century. In the non-peerage table of precedence, a Laird ranks below a Baron and above an Esquire, for example Laird of Haltoun...

Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th century under King FA NGUM.  On its East is Vietnam, and on its West is Thailand, and on its North-West are China and Burma. Population: 6,803,699 (July 2014 est.)

Lobola is the bride price to be given by the boy's party at the time of marriage in a part of South Africa.


Market Days
In most villages of Africa, villages markets are organized weekly or bi-weekly, actually weekly, thus this might mean seven weeks.

Marmot (Squirrel)
An animal from American Indian folktales. Marmot is a large size squirrel. Most of them live in mountainous areas.

Marriage Bread
It is an American Indian custom of marriage that when the girl’s mother is ready to marry her daughter to some boy, she would ask her daughter to take marriage bread to her boyfriend or would be husband, which means that her mother is ready to give her daughter to him.

In Hindi it is called Baajaraa. A small-seeded cereal and forage grasses cultivated for grain or hay. It is eaten whole or ground as flour.


Moles are small cylindrical mammals adapted to a subterranean lifestyle. They have velvety fur; tiny or invisible ears and eyes, reduced hind limbs; and short, powerful forelimbs with large paws positioned for digging.

Monomotapa Empire

Motlopi Tree

Also called Chevrotain. Translated as "Chhotaa Hiran" this extant species are found in forests in South and Southeast Asia, with a single species in the rainforests of Central and West Africa. They are solitary or live in pairs, and feed almost exclusively on plant material. Depending on exact species, the Asian species weigh between 0.7 and 8.0 kg (1.5 and 17.6 lb), and include the smallest ungulates in the world. The African chevrotain is considerably larger at 7–16 kg (15–35 lb).

New Yam
There are two stories related to this New Yam celebration. They are in the stories of "Folktales from Southern Nigeria" - Nos 30 and 31. This was a kind of celebration of the town at the end of the year. Every year before sowing new yam this festival is celebrated for three days and three nights. Before celebrating this nobody eats new yam.

Nihankan (Spider)
A Spider. Found in Native American and Canadian folktales.

Nyangau Hyena
Mentioned in Kenyan folktales.

Nyame (Sky God)
Nyame (pronounced as Nyaamee), the Great One or the Supreme God, is the Sky God of Akan people of Ghana, Western Africa. His mother's name is Nguna who was created by her own son. It is said that he is the maker of animals, forests and birds. He created the first human being also - Kamunu. His wife is Asase Ya, goddess of Earth. They have two children - Tano the River god and Bia, the god of wild animals. His servant is Anansi (the spider), the Trickster god who brought the knowledge and stories to the world.

The Sun and the Moon are his two eyes - right eye and left eye, which he opens in day and night respectively. We have Nyame's two stories in our collection - one is Ananse Aur Aasamaan Kaa Devtaa and Makkaa Ke Ek Daane Ke Badale Main Patnee.

Oba is the Yoruba language word for the kings of Yorubaland, but now it is used extensively in West African Republics - Nigeria, Togo, Benin. They are rich and powerful. Oba had many wives. Before, when any Oba died people used to hide in their homes because after his death the people of his family needed some people to be buried alive with him. They went in the village and caught anybody who was out of his house. So a few people were buried alive with Oba.
See its detailed description at

Palm Oil
Extracted from palm tree nuts and most used cooking oil in Nigeria.

Palm Wine
Palm wine, also known as "palm toddy" or "toddy" is a fermented drink made from the sap collected from virtually any species of palm tree. Palm wine is well liked throughout West Africa where some 10 million people consume it nationwide. Its popularity does not end in Africa, however; it is also a common beverage in India (in India it is called Taadee), Sri Lanka and the Philippines, among other countries.

Pancake and Maple Syrup
Pancakes are made of white flour, about 4-5” diameter and 1/2” thick in size, cooked on a griddle on both sides. Then they are covered with maple syrup – a honey like material extracted from maple tree found in Canada abundantly, or normal honey or butter or other kinds of syrups and eaten. How the maple syrup is made is given in 8-Canada Kee Lok Kathaayen, Doosaraa Bhaag

Paraka is the American Indian's native dress

Phokojwe (Jackal)
A character of Lesotho folktales.

Plantain is a banana like fruit, but a lot bigger in size. It is mostly available in tropical areas. In Nigeria is is eaten as fresh fruit like banana. They make a dish also out of it called Do Do. It is made by cutting the ripe plantain pulp in about 1 1/2 to 2 inches pieces and then frying them. It is eaten as snack. One feels satisfied after eating 4-6 pieces depending on- their size. It is found in Kerala state of India also.
Plantain is used in many ways in Nigeria. Its leaves are used to tie food to steam, to spread as roof on huts etc. Its fruit is eaten.

Translated as Cat (Billee). It is a kind of cat found in Africa and Eurasia. It has a remarkably bad smelling secretion to mark its territory.

Among American Indians of the Northern Pacific coast, especially among the Kwakiutl, Potlach is a ceremonial festival at which gifts are bestowed on the guests and property is destroyed by its owner in a show of wealth that the guests later attempt to surpass. A story of this matter is given in "Folktales of Raven".

A Pow-wow (also powwow, pow wow or pau wau) is a gathering of some of North America's Native People. A similar gathering by California Native Peoples usually in the fall is called a Big Time. A modern Pow-wow is a specific type of event for Native American people to meet and dance, sing, socialize, and honor Native American/First Nations culture. Pow-wows may be private or public. There is generally a dancing competition, often with significant prize money awarded. Pow-wows vary in length from a one day event, to major Pow-wows called for a special occasion which can be up to one week long.

Rabbit  see  Hare

A crow like bird. Found in American and Canadian folktales. Read about Raven here.

Reindeer, also known as caribou in North America, is a species of deer native to arctic, sub-arctic, Tundra etc regions.

This word has been used by Elphinstone Dayrell in his stories collection "Folk Stories from Southern Nigeria". Its context shows that it denotes some kind of currency used at that time. Accordingly the word has been translated in its word meaning - sticks. Since no adjective is used before this word, one cannot say what kind of rod was used - wooden, silver, gold, small, large or what?

Death in Guinea, West African country.

Sankhambi plays a prominent role in many Venda tales - the equivalent of Hlakanyana. Sometimes he is quite small, like tortoise, and sometimes he is big and strong. All are on their guard against him, however, for Sankhambi is there is always trouble brewing.

Scandinavian Folktales Characters

A priest or priestess who uses magic for the purpose of curing the sick, divining the hidden, and controlling events.

Shellfish is a popular name for certain edible mollusks, for example, oysters, clams, and scallops etc

Siberia is the northernmost part of the world where the temperatures are always towards frozeeing.

Simba Kongway (Lion)
Simba Kongway is the name of a lion in Kenya folktales, Zanzibar folktales.

Skunk (Squirrel)
A squirrel like animal who is also very cunning, mostly found in Western America. He is mostly mentioned in American folktales.

Soongooraa (Hare)
Hare is a very common character of African folktales. You will find Soongooraa named hare in Kenya folktales, Zanzibar (Tanzania) folktales. Like in other folktales this hare is very intelligent and cunning. His other names are Kalulu, Muundlazana in other stories.

In Hindi it is called Jwaar (or Juaar). A long tropical grass grown widely for its edible seeds or its sweet juice that yields syrup.

Most dishes of Nigerian lunch and dinner include soup. Some the names of their soups are - Egusi soup, Okra soup....

South Africa
South African wolf an jackal stories have their origin in the old Flemish tales of Reynard the Fox, but over the centuries they have been so acclimatized in South Africa that they are perceived as being part and parcel of the indigenous folklore. Read one such story in a Nelson Mandela's book.

Spider is a main character of many African stories, such as from Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana etc even from southern Africa. In American Indian folktales also it plays an important role. Tarantula (pronounced as Taarantoolaa), Nihankan (pronounced as Nihaankan), Sekgogo (in Southern African folktales), Anansi (in West African tales) are some of their names there. It is considered very intelligent animal and many animals go to him to solve their problems. There are many stories related to him.

There is one story of Gizo the he-spider and Koki the she-spider in Nigerian Folktales-1.

Pronounced as Sultaan. Sultan is an Urdu/Arabic word used for King. Since many people in Africa were Muslim, they used Sultan word to call their king, so Sultan means king.

Tarantula (Spider)
Tarantula (pronounced as Taarantoolaa) is a Spider who is also very cunning like Nihankan Spider. Found in Native American and Canadian folktales.

Tej is a kind of light alcoholic drink made from honey and commonly used in Ethiopia.

Tepee is a conical tent traditionally made of animal skins and wooden poles. Tepee tales are those which are told in these tents. Since they are the type of living places for American Indians, stories told among them are known as Tepee Tales.

Thimble is a little metal cap usually worn by tailors to save their finger tip from needle pricks.

Tikigaq (Place)
Tikigaq is a place mentioned in a Raven story. It is the Point Hope - a city in North Slope Borough, in North-West Alaska, USA. It is a very small village having an area of 6.5 square miles with a population of 614 in 2010.

A totem is a being, object, or symbol representing an animal or plant that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe, reminding them of their ancestry or mythic past. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem. Normally this belief is accompanied by a totemic myth.

Totem Pole
Totem poles are monumental sculptures carved from large trees, mostly Western Red Cedar, by cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. They are find in abundance in British Columbia of Canada, on Canada's Western Coast. They are tall wooden poles carved all over with faces and other things. They are their cultural heritage.

In African folktales, Tortoise is considered a very intelligent and cunning animal not only in the world of animals but also in the world of people. Very many tales are found related to tortoise and its intelligence.


Tsar  see  Czar

Tzar  see Czar

In this game two parties pull a rope to their own side. Whoever pulls the whole rope to one’s side wins the game.

Umdoni berries. Pink-purple fruit up to 1" long with a crisp, crunchy texture and tart taste. Mostly found in  Betty's Bay area of the Western Cape, South Africa

Wampum are the shell beads indigenous to North American people. This word is used for their money also which was made of clam-shells.

Yam is a tuber vegetable, again mostly found in tropical areas. In Nigeria it is found in plenty and is their staple food. This they peel, boil, and pound to make it like a mashed potato dish of America. It is eaten with meat soup. Two folktales from Southern Nigeria mention New Yam festivals also.

Yupik People
Yupik people are a group of indigenous or aboriginal peoples of Western, South-Western, and South-Central Alaska and the Russian Far East. They are all Eskimos.

Zooni means a fast runner. Mostly found in American folktales.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on November 27, 2013
Modified on 07/25/23