The Old Persian/Avestan word for "garden/orchard" is bustan/bostan. On the surface, this word looks very similar to the Greek term botane, which means the same thing (and is clearly the etymon of the English word botany and botanical). I was thinking that given that Persian and Greek are both Indo-European languages, does it make sense to argue that these two words are etymologically-related to each other?

  • You might be amused to know that Modern Greek has both the Persian word (through Turkish) μποστάνι (garden) and βότανον (herb). The different origins of the words are clarified by the different pronunciations. The initial consonant of the latter (IE) word has undergone lenition (to v), but the former, "Turkish", word, predictably, not! Your etymological conjecture fails at the phoneme level in the streets of Athens, today.... Aug 28, 2023 at 22:21

3 Answers 3


It doesn’t seem like there’s any connection. Persian is not my speciality, but going by etymologies given on Wiktionary, their similarity is completely coincidental.


Greek βοτάνη contains the suffix -άνη, which forms nouns that are most commonly instrumental in function (similar to -er in English). The root is the same as that found in βόσκω ‘feed, nourish, keep’, so the original meaning was probably something along the lines of ‘feeder’ or ‘nourisher’ (i.e., the place that feeds you by providing vegetables and corn.

That root is historically just βο-/βω- (from Indo-European *gʷeh₃-), but there are quite a few formations from this root within Greek (and in other languages) that have an extra -τ-, so it seems plausible a variant *gʷeh₃t- also existed to some degree. The -τ- is definitely not part of the suffix, though. The root *gʷeh₃- doesn’t appear to have been identified in Indo-Iranian languages, but if it did occur, we would expect the outcome to have /ɡ/ rather than /b/ as in Greek.


The Iranian form, on the other hand, appears to contain the well-known suffix -stān, which nowadays is mostly found in country names (Pakistan, Uzbekistan, etc.), but which originally just meant ‘place’; both the s and the t are part of the suffix. The suffix is actually an old noun (stāna- ‘place’ in Avestan) that comes from the Indo-European root *steh₂- ‘stand’ (i.e., it is something which ‘stands’ or ‘is stood’ in a metaphorical sense), and the whole word is thus a compound, rather than a root with a suffix as in Greek.

The first element of the compound is a noun meaning ‘(pleasant) scent’. In Modern Persian, it’s simply or , but in older Iranian languages, it was /bōðe-/, /bōje-/ and similar disyllabic forms. The Avestan equivalent would be either baoδa- (m, ‘smell, scent’) or baoδay- (f, ‘fragrance, pleasant smell’), though as far as a quick search tells me, the full compound doesn’t seem to be attested in Avestan. In either case, the Proto-Iranian root would be *bawdV- (where V = some vowel, probably either a or i).

According to Bartholomae’s Altiranisches Wörterbuch, this root is cognate with Sanskrit bodh- ‘be awake, perceive’ (known from Buddha ‘the awakened/enlightened one’), from the Indo-European root *bʰeu̯dʰ- ‘be awake, be aware’. The Iranian sense ‘smell, scent’ is quite different from ‘be awake’, but is actually not all that strange: there is an almost exact parallel in Latin sentīre ‘be aware of, feel’, which has come to also mean ‘smell’ (and also ‘hear’) in the modern Romance languages.

So it should be clear by now that the two words break down differently and cannot be cognates:

  • Greek has βο(τ)-άνη with no s at all and the t being part of, or an extension to, a root meaning ‘feed’, whose initial consonant comes from Indo-European *gʷ
  • Iranian has bō-stān < *bawd(V)-stān-, with both s and t being part of the suffix, and with a root meaning ‘smell’, whose initial consonant comes from Indo-European *bʰ
  • "their similarity is completely coincidental." "I can’t figure out what exactly the first element is, " I would seem the only confirmed coincidence here is your thinking you have a clue and not clue, which is a clear contradiction in and of itself. This answer would have made a good comment, tl;dr: dunnlol but fu fr.
    – vectory
    Sep 3, 2023 at 20:11
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    @vectory The fact that I haven’t been able to pinpoint what exactly bōð/je- is in the Iranian word doesn’t change the fact that the suffixes are unrelated, and whatever exactly bōð/je- is, it is not cognate with the βο(τ)- of βοτάνη, since the initial consonants do not match. Those two facts on their own suffice to say that their similarity is due to coincidence rather than shared etymology. Claiming that one detail invalidates all other established evidence is fallacious cherry picking. Sep 3, 2023 at 20:30
  • You have heard of analogy?
    – vectory
    Sep 4, 2023 at 22:18
  • @vectory How exactly would analogy explain anything here? Sep 4, 2023 at 22:53
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    @vectory A bit of extra searching (based on Alireza’s comment below) turned up the actual first part as well, which I’ve now edited into the answer. Any attempt to shoehorn the similarity between the two words into mere analogy would now be not only far-fetched, but downright disingenuous. Sep 5, 2023 at 8:53

Merely "making sense" isn't good enough, we strive for a a well-enough supported line of logic and observations. Ancient Greek βοτάνη [botanɛ:] derives from the verb typically cited as βόσκω [boskɔ:] meaning "feed", thus related to βοῦς "cow", originally in IE *gʷeh₃. Appearance of [b] in Greek is a Greek-specific quirk also found in Celtic), compare "cow", Old Armenian kov, Sanskrit go:, Classical Persian gōg, and so on.

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    The "cow" connection seems uncertain, since it's doubtful if the cow word had a laryngeal; Beekes thinks it's "probable" but Chantraine says "imprudent".
    – TKR
    Aug 28, 2023 at 16:54

The word (bustan) consists of Boo and Stan. In old Persian and Avestan "Boo" means "smell or "fruit and as you know "Stan means place or stand , therefore we recognize it as a place for good smells or good fruits. On the other hand, in middle Persian "baag Means garden Which has been "paradaeza in old Persian that entered into European languages as Paradise. Nowadays we call heaven as "pardis. The Greek word botany or botanic is so similar to Persian word "bote or boza which means " herb or "bush .

The middle Persian form of the word is Bagh, and the ancient Persian form of it was Baga, which means a section or division or piece of land under cultivation. Bagh is a Persian word that was used in the same way in Pahlavi and Sogdian. Another word used in Iranian languages ​​for garden is the word "pardis", which itself is a word derived from ancient Persian (paradeza) meaning garden. Paradesa is also used twice in Avesta. This word has been translated into Pahlavi and is also used in Dari Farsi, although today Paliz (Jaliz) is called cucumber and watermelon fields and sometimes vegetables. During the Achaemenid era and after that, all of Iran was full of large and magnificent gardens, as Xenophon also mentions them several times. These gardens, which were unique in their time, did not have such a history in other great civilizations, and the people of many parts of the world found them interesting.For this reason, gardens were built in many parts of the world, and the same Persian word was used to name them. Today, this word is used in Greek as Paradeisos meaning garden.

The word "paradise" entered English from the French paradis, inherited from the Latin paradisus, from Greek parádeisos (παράδεισος), from an Old Iranian form, from Proto-Iranian*parādaiĵah- "walled enclosure", whence Old Persian 𐎱𐎼𐎭𐎹𐎭𐎠𐎶 p-r-d-y-d-a-m /paridaidam/, Avestan 𐬞𐬀𐬌𐬭𐬌⸱𐬛𐬀𐬉𐬰𐬀 pairi-daêza-.The literal meaning of this Eastern Old Iranian language word is "walled (enclosure)",from pairi- 'around' (cognate with Greek περί, English peri- of identical meaning) and -diz "to make, form (a wall), build" (cognate with Greek τεῖχος 'wall'). The word's etymology is ultimately derived from a PIE root *dheigʷ "to stick and set up (a wall)", and *per "around".

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    Re: your edit: PIE *dʰeigʷ- (whence English ditch and, through Old Norse, dyke) would yield Greek **θεῖβος and a stem-final velar in Iranian. The root is *dʰeiǵʰ- 'to form, shape' (English dough).
    – Cairnarvon
    Sep 6, 2023 at 3:03

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