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Iran Glossary

Iranian Culture - Iran Glossary

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.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Abgusht - (literally "water meat") fatty mutton on the bone cooked with potatoes, chickpeas and white beans in a soup with tomato paste.

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 [+]

B

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.

C

Caravanserai - a resting place or inn for camel trains.
Read more about Caravanserais

Chador - lit. 'tent' full-length female cloak.

Chaykhuneh - teahouse.

Chogan - polo.



D

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).

E

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.

F

Farsh - Persian carpet. Read more on Persian carpets [+]

Farsi - or Parsi - the language of Persia and its people.
Read more on Farsi [+]

Ferdosi - 10th century Persian poet and author of the epic Shahnamah.

Fesenjun - fesenjan - spicy walnut, pomegranate, eggplant sauce.

G

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.

H

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

I

Imam - or emam - Islamic leader.

Istgah - station.

Iwan - or eivan - rectangular courtyard hall.



J

Jameh - Friday.

K

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.

L

Lors - nomadic ethnic group making up about 2% of Iran's population.

M

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.

N

Narengi - mandarin orange.

No Ruz - lit. 'New' + 'Day' - Persian New Year on or around the vernal equinox. Read more on No Ruz [+]

O

Omar Khayyam - 11th century poet and scholar and author of the Rubaiyat. Read more on Omar Khayyam

P

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.

Q

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.

R

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.

S

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 [+]

T

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.

U

Ur - ancient city in Mesopotamia attacked by the Elamites.
Read more on the Elmites [+]

V

Vizneh - region of Gilan Province.

W

White Palace - palace in Tehran of the last Shah.

X

Xerxes - ancient and great Persian king of the Achaemenid dynasty.
Read more on Xerxes [+]

Y

Yalda - a Persian festival celebrated on the eve of the Winter Solstice that has its roots in Mithraism.
Read more on Yalda

Yazd - ancient town in central Iran famous for its badgirs (windtowers).
Read more on Yazd [+]

Z

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.


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