Lost in translation (Punch)

On the origin of the word punch

Back when I was writing my newsletter (RIP) Lost in translation was a series where I featured a word or phrase that intrigues me. Always fascinating to discover the history or surprising origin of a word. This one is from the archives.

Punch: The word punch as we know refers to a variety of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages (e.g., fruit punch). What I learned is that it has Sanskrit origins. From Wikipedia,

The word punch is a loanword from Sanskrit पञ्च (pañca), meaning “five”, as the drink was originally made with five ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices. The drink was brought to England from India by sailors and employees of the British East India Company in the early 17th century. From there it was introduced into other European countries.

The word is pronounced almost identically as “punch” in Sanskrit or the slightly more drawn out “paanch” in Hindi.

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