I have been trying to find the origins of the Hindi word अफ़ीम "Afeem". It means opium.

The Rajpal Hindi Shabdakosh gives the origin of "afeem" as Arabic: https://hi.oxforddictionaries.com/परिभाषा/अफ़ीम

I have been lead to this word in Arabic:


Beyond that I have not been able to further find its origin. If someone will be willing to point me to its Arabic etymology that would be really helpful.


The ultimate origin of that word is Ancient Greek ὄπιον (ópion, "opium") which is a diminutive form of ὀπός (opós, “juice”). It was borrowed into Persian as اپیون (apiyūn) and from Persian it was borrowed into Arabic as أفيون (ʾafyūn).

  • 4
    *ὁπός (*hopós),: from Proto-Indo-European *sokʷos (“juice, resin”).
    – ARi
    Apr 29 '17 at 11:45

The Persian-Arabic borrowings were rare (unlike the borrowings in opposite directions, that is, from Arabic into Persian).

The data in Wiktionary suggesting that borrowing direction is based upon a sourse of the XIXth century.

It is more likely therefore that the Arabic word derives from the root و ف ي (w+f+y) meaning 'to (over)fullfill'.

  • 2
    The derivation of Arabic ʼafyūn from Greek opion is completely unproblematic (with or without a Persian intermediary).
    – fdb
    Apr 29 '17 at 20:52
  • ....whereas the derivation from وفى is semantically and phonologically impossible.
    – fdb
    Apr 29 '17 at 21:23
  • Any proof? The semanitcs are clear and fourth form mazdars beign with an '.
    – Manjusri
    Apr 30 '17 at 12:59
  • 1
    The form IV maṣdar of وفى is ʼīfāʼ ايفاء. It means “payment” and the like.
    – fdb
    Apr 30 '17 at 14:40

It is also possible that Arabic أفيون ʾafyūn was borrowed into Hindi-Urdu and later remodelled on the English opium, explaining the final m in afīm. This would also make sense historically since the British presence in South Asia brought widespread commercial opium cultivation.

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