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suriilii aavaaz

melodious voice


of or belonging to Kabul


love, fondness, affection, desire


a merchant or trader of small capital or stock-in-trade, a petty merchant, bankrupt, broke


shine, glitter, brightness

suup to suup chhalnii bhii bolii jis me.n bahattar chhed

the kettle calling the pot black, the defective person should look at its own defects before opening the tongue, the one who have a clean image, then it is brag


hen-pecked (husband), subservient husband, uxorious


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duudh-shariik bahan

foster sister


rebel, traitor, insurgent, mutineer, rebellious, disloyal


custody (plural & singular)


charity, alms

kal aanaa

to obtain relief, to be at ease.


one who draws, printer, the one who sketches, engraver, the writer


a hired labourer, worker


arrangement of nature, system of nature


body, body of animate being


an election that happens at a different time from a main election, to choose a Member of Parliament to replace one who has died or left his or her job, by-election


custom, usage, manner, mode, fashion


a mule

Home / Blog / All that you don’t know about the word Ustad, is keeping you from becoming one!

All that you don’t know about the word Ustad, is keeping you from becoming one!

by Rajat Kumar 18 November 2021 2 min Read

All that you don’t know about the word Ustad, is keeping you from becoming one!

shaagird hain ham 'miir' se ustaad ke 'raasikh'
ustaado kaa ustaad hai ustaad hamaaraa

I am, Raasikh, the protégé of the masterly ‘Mir’
It is my master who’s the master of all masters
Rasikh Azimabadi

If you’ve spent hundreds of hours scouring through dictionaries, like I have, you must have noticed the label ‘vulg.’, which shows that the word you’ve arrived on has become ‘vulgarized’ or ‘corrupted’, indicating it’s no longer pronounced or written as it first was or intended to be.

And so is the case with the word featured today, Ustad. Literally meaning a master, teacher, or expert. While it has also come to be used as a close friend when addressed casually, it begs the question how can a word, which is literally the very definition of masterdom, slip up like a tenderfoot? Let’s find out.

Among the many loan-words which came into Urdu from Persian, Ustad, originally came from the Zend language, even appearing in the Zoroastrian religious text ‘Avesta’. A person who understood the Avesta text was called ‘Avesta-Ved’, meaning a knower of Avesta. Through its growing use, the word ripened into ‘Avesta-Viid’, and gradually, completely morphed into its modern-day version Ustad.

But this bit of history isn’t all, there’s more to it. 

In Persian and Urdu, it came to be pronounced differently, Ustaz (with Zal) in the former, and Ustad (with dal) in the latter. While both uses are correct, its Urdu version entered the Arabic-speaking diaspora, and -surprise, surprise- underwent change again! 

In Arabic, Ustad adapted to and pluralized according to the rules of Arabic grammar, spelling out as ‘Asaatiid’. In Urdu, interestingly, its Persian plural “Asaatiza” became the custom, while singularly it still remained ‘Ustad’. 

Oh, and let Rasikh’s verse above be a reminder that Ustad can still pluralize and reappear as ’Ustaado.n’, as per Hindi grammar rules.

So, what did we learn today? To unlearn is as important as it is to learn. After all, even languages do so!

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