The Day When “Jugaad” Made It to the Oxford English Dictionary

It’s the Hindi euphemism for productivity hacks.

Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash

“Jungle” is the first English word I remember of Indian origin. The memory is from The Jungle Book title song in Hindi.

The song hits a hard nostalgia. If a robot translated in English, the chorus would be:

“A glowing flower in underwear.”

Local dialects are complex to translate sometimes.

“Indian speech etiquette features a complex system of kinship terms and terms of address, in which age, gender, status, and family relationships are marked by a highly specific vocabulary with no direct equivalents in English,” said Danica Salazar, OED World English Editor.

I don’t remember how I found that “jugaad” is also a part of the Oxford English Dictionary, but when I did, it felt like a fleeting proud moment for me as an Indian.

Jugaad is a euphemism for productivity hacks.

We Indians already know the meaning of jugaad. It is an endonym that we can’t translate into any other language until September 2017. According to The Oxford Dictionary, the definition is:

“A flexible approach to problem-solving that uses limited resources in an innovative way.”

What is the reason behind this origin?

There are so many reasons this word became popular. From an insider view, we can’t see its evolution because we use it frequently.

One of the reasons is we Indians are such hard-working people. We find out ways to use [ read exploit ] limited resources to maximise utility.

I have many examples. One of them is bursting minimalism to the next level by crunching the shopping list even less.

Another is transferring the elder sibling’s belongings to the younger one — school books, school uniform, casual uniform, bicycle, everything. In English, the closest explanation is frugality, but in Hindi, it is jugaad.

Are there any more unique words of Indian origin?

I knew only about the connection of juggernaut with Jagannath.

I thought it was just a chance because juggernaut and Jagannath both are gigantic and mighty.

Jagannath is a Hindu deity. Juggernaut means an overwhelmingly powerful force.

When I found jugaad had also become part of the Oxford English Dictionary in September 2017, I thought of sharing this news before using the word ruthlessly in my vocabulary.

Look out if I use this J-bomb a lot in future. I’ll always cite for reference, though!

To receive more stories like this, join my email list.

Sanjeev is a writer, mentor and recovering shopaholic. He writes about emotional intelligence, productivity, relationships, and practical psychology for everyday life. When he is not busy with his muse, he is sweating either in a workout or playing badminton. He is active on Instagram.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Sanjeev Yadav

Writer • Mentor • Recovering Shopaholic • IITR 2019 • ✍🏼 Personal Growth, Positive Psychology & Lifelong Learning• IG: sanjeevai • List: