Also ban·iya [ban-yuh, -ee-uh] /ˈbæn yə, -i ə/.

Origin of bania

First recorded in 1590–1600


or ban·ian

[ban-yuh n]
  1. Also called banyan tree. an East Indian fig tree, Ficus benghalensis, of the mulberry family, having branches that send out adventitious roots to the ground and sometimes cause the tree to spread over a wide area.
  2. Also bania, baniya. (in India)
    1. a Hindu trader or merchant of a particular caste, the rules of which forbid eating flesh.
    2. a loose shirt, jacket, or gown.

Origin of banyan

1590–1600; < Portuguese (perhaps < Arabic) < Gujarati vāṇiyo (singular) or vāṇiyā (plural) member of the merchant caste (compare Prakrit vāṇiaya, Sanskrit vāṇija trader); the tree is said to have taken its name from a particular tree of the species near which merchants had built a booth; source of final nasal uncertain Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for baniya

Historical Examples of baniya

  • As a druggist the Baniya is in league with the doctor; he buys weeds at a nominal price and sells them very dear.

  • If a Baniya is on the other side of a river you should leave your bundle on this side, for fear he should steal it.

  • If a Baniya is drowning you should not give him a hand: he is sure to have some base motive for drifting down stream.

  • "Let the slave of the Lady Ramûa guide me quickly to her," observed Baniya, with a grin at the distant moon.

    Istar of Babylon

    Margaret Horton Potter

  • Seeing her, Baniya stepped swiftly forth, causing an exclamation to rise to her lips.

    Istar of Babylon

    Margaret Horton Potter

British Dictionary definitions for baniya



  1. a moraceous tree, Ficus benghalensis, of tropical India and the East Indies, having aerial roots that grow down into the soil forming additional trunks
  2. a member of the Hindu merchant caste of N and W India
  3. a loose-fitting shirt, jacket, or robe, worn originally in India

Word Origin for banyan

C16: from Hindi baniyā, from Sanskrit vānija merchant
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for baniya



"Indian fig tree," 1630s, so called in reference to a tree on the Iranian coast of the Persian Gulf under which the Hindu merchants known as banians had built a pagoda. From Sanskrit vanija "merchant."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper