Iranian Culture - Iran Glossary
A glossary of Persian [Farsi] words and phrases. Further information on many of the listed terms is available via accompanying links, plus information on related products.
Ash - type of thick barley soup.
Agha - polite word for 'sir' or 'gentleman'.
Aramgah - tomb, burial place.
Arg - town, city.
Ateshkadeh - Zoroastrian eternal fire temple.
Ayatollah - high-ranking Shiite Muslem cleric.
Azad - free, liberated cf. azadi 'freedom'.
Azari (Azeri) - ethnic group of Azari Turkish-speaking people. Read more on the Azari [+]
Badgir - ventilation device to catch cooling breezes.
Bagh - garden.
Baghlava - baklava - Middle Eastern sweet made from chopped walnuts or pistachios, sweetened with honey.
Bandari - ethnic group found mainly on the Persian Gulf coast and islands.
Barbari - type of flat, salty bread.
Basijis - paramilitary force founded by Ayatollah Khomeini for "human wave" attacks in the Iran-Iraq war. Now enforce Islamic codes under the control of local mosques.
Bazar - bazaar, market.
Bazari - market seller.
Biruni - area for entertaining guests.
Borj - Arabic and Persian word for 'tower'.
Bozorg - big, great.
Burqa - Muslem veil.
Caravanserai - a resting place or inn for camel trains.
Chador - lit. 'tent' full-length female cloak.
Chaykhuneh - teahouse.
Chogan - polo.
Daf - or dap - frame drum, see Ghaval.
Dar baste - closed door; private hire in taxis.
Darvazeh - city gate.
Darya - ocean, river, sea.
Dasht - desert.
Dizi - lamb stew.
Dolme - stuffed eggplant (aubergine).
Ekhrajiha - ('The Rejects') - box office hit movie about the Iran-Iraq war directed by Massoud Dehnamaki (2007).
Enqelab - revolution, now common street name in Iran.
Farsh - Persian carpet. Read more on Persian carpets [+]
Farsi - or Parsi - the language of Persia and its people.
Ferdosi - 10th century Persian poet and author of the epic Shahnamah.
Fesenjun - fesenjan - spicy walnut, pomegranate, eggplant sauce.
Gabbeh - thick hand-knotted carpet or rug.
Ghaliyan - hookah pipe or tobacco water pipe. Read more on ghaliyan [+]
Ghaval - also gaval - Azerbaijani frame drum.
Ghotab - Persian pastry of almond and cardamom.
Giveh - light cotton summer shoes.
Golestan - lit. 'flower garden'; province of Iran.
Gonbad - or gombad - dome.
Hafez - Iranian poet from Shiraz - the Persian Shakespeare. Read more on Shiraz [+]
Hammam - Turkish-style public bathhouse.
Hejab - a covering for a Muslim woman's head and face.
Hosseinieh - see takieh
Imam - or emam - Islamic leader.
Istgah - station.
Iwan - or eivan - rectangular courtyard hall.
Jameh - Friday.
Kabir - great.
Kavir - salt desert cf. Dasht-e-Kavir.
Khan - term of respect, lord.
Kheyabun - or khayaban - street, road.
Khoresht - rich, meat and vegetable stew.
Khuneh home, house.
Kuche - small alley or lane.
Lors - nomadic ethnic group making up about 2% of Iran's population.
Madrasah - or madraseh - Muslim school or college.
Majlis - Iran's Parliament with presently 290 representatives.
Manar - minaret.
Markaz - center, organization, HQ.
Mehmun - guest.
Mehmunkhuneh - lit. 'guest' + 'room' - hotel.
Moharram - first month of the Islamic lunar calendar - the month of mourning.
Mosaferkhuneh - lit. 'traveler' + 'room' - simple hostel.
Muezzin - person calling Muslims to prayer at the mosque.
Mullah - Islamic cleric; title of respect.
Narengi - mandarin orange.
No Ruz - lit. 'New' + 'Day' - Persian New Year on or around the vernal equinox. Read more on No Ruz [+]
Omar Khayyam - 11th century poet and scholar and author of the Rubaiyat. Read more on Omar Khayyam
Pahlavis - the last ruling dynasty of Iran before the 1979 Revolution. Read more on the Pahlavis [+]
Parsi - Persia or Iran. 'Farsi' is the Arabized form of 'Parsi'.
Pasazh - passage, arcade, mall.
Pashmak - Persian cotton candy, candyfloss - most noted for its taste in Yazd.
Persia - previous name for Iran.
Pol - bridge.
Qajars - The Qajar dynasty ruled Iran from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. Read more on the Qajars [+]
Qaleh - fortification, walled settlement.
Qanat - underground irrigation channel.
Qar - cave.
Quran - Koran - Muslim holy book.
Ragsheh Chagoo - Persian knife dance performed at weddings. Read more on Ragsheh Chagoo [+]
Ramazan - the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar and the month of fasting.
Rial - the currency of Iran and one-tenth of a toman.
Rumi - Afghan-born 13th century Persian poet, thought to have founded the sufi Mevlevi Order, known as the 'whirling dervishes'. Read more on Rumi [+]
Ruz - day.
Sa'di - or Saadi - 13th century Persian poet known for his works the Golestan (Rose Garden) and Bustan (Garden of Trees).
Shah - title of the Persian sovereign.
Shahid - martyr.
Shahnamah - epic by poet Ferdosi
Sigha - temporary marriage allowed under Shia Islamic law.
Silk Road - legendary trade route connecting East and West.
Sofreh Aghd - Persian wedding spread Read more on Sofreh Aghd [+]
Takht - royal throne.
Takieh - or Hosseinieh - a religious building used to perform the Ashura rituals to commemorate the martyrdom of the the 3rd Imam Hossein during Moharram.
Tappeh - hill.
Tasbi - prayer beads.
Tazieh- passion play reenactment of the martyrdom of Imam Hossein. Listen to a Tazieh podcast
Tonbak - Persian goblet-shaped drum.
Toman - equivalent unit of currency to ten rials.
Ur - ancient city in Mesopotamia attacked by the Elamites.
Vizneh - region of Gilan Province.
White Palace - palace in Tehran of the last Shah.
Xerxes - ancient and great Persian king of the Achaemenid dynasty.
Yalda - a Persian festival celebrated on the eve of the Winter Solstice that has its roots in Mithraism.
Zarih - gilded latticework over a tomb.
Ziggurat - tiered temple tower on a rectangular base.
Zoroastrianism - ancient religion based on the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster with belief in the creator Ahura Mazda.
Zurkhaneh - lit 'house of strength' - an ancient Persian 'sport' where groups of men perform feats of strength to a musical accompaniment.