Meaning of punkah in English:


Pronunciation /ˈpʌŋkə/


  • 1mainly historical (in India) a large cloth fan on a frame suspended from the ceiling, moved backwards and forwards by pulling on a cord.

    as modifier ‘the punkah wallah fell asleep over his task’
    • ‘I could tell it was her because of the punkah wallah holding a large sign bearing the words ‘Tessa Jowell IS HERE’.’
    • ‘I so want to be oiled by a nice clean punkah wallah.’
    • ‘Back in town, among the most distinctive digs are the Hotel Sofitel Central, a palatial, seafront pavilion of louvres, punkah fans and armies of gardeners.’
    • ‘A retired punkah staggers from one pulley to the other.’
    1. 1.1Indian An electric fan.
      ‘You can imagine yourself in a stifling ballroom in Calcutta, full of feverish gaiety, while punkahs languidly stir the air.’
      • ‘Aware of the famous punkahs at Brisbane's Tattersalls Club, Addison's punkahs - his first - also form part of a strategy of passive environmental control.’
      • ‘An ideally positioned bar and lounge under an open-thatch roof is cooled by the silent swish of punkahs, and decorated in harmonious green, cream and ebony.’
      • ‘There was a pause during which I seemed to hear the regular gentle swish of the punkah and the steady buzzing of the cicadas in the sandalwood trees.’
      air cooler, air conditioner, ventilator, blower, aerator


Via Hindi from Sanskrit pakṣaka, from pakṣa ‘wing’.