[ muh-rah-tee, -rat-ee ]
/ məˈrɑ ti, -ˈræt i /
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an Indic language of western and central India: the principal language of the state of Maharashtra.
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Also Mahratti.

Origin of Marathi

First recorded in 1820–30
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does Marathi mean?

Marathi is a language spoken mainly in Maharashtra, a state in the Republic of India, a southern Asian country.

Marathi is a member of the Indic family of languages, which includes languages spoken in Northern India, such as Hindi and Bengali.

Marathi is the state language of Maharashtra, a central-western Indian state. Nearly all of the world’s speakers of Marathi live in Maharashtra and its neighboring states or are Maharashtrian immigrants who moved elsewhere, such as to the island of Mauritius.

Why is Marathi important?

The subcontinent of India is home to a multitude of cultures, peoples, and languages. Marathi is the language spoken by the majority of people who live in what is now the state of Maharashtra. Mararthi has a long history which is even now still being researched and new discoveries are being found everyday.

Until relatively recently, Marathi was believed to be a younger (historically speaking) member of the Indic family of languages. It was thought that Marathi was a young language that descended from Sanskrit around 1000 years ago. However, evidence presented by a committee of linguistic researchers to the Indian government in 2018 revealed new details about the history of the Marathi language.

According to the new evidence, Marathi comes from an older language known as Maharatthi, which was descended from an even older language called Maharashtri. The Maharashtri language was, according to a 2300 year old inscription found in Tamil Nadu, spoken by ancient dam masons. In addition to this, a 2222 year old cave inscription written in Maharashtri was also discovered. This new evidence would suggest that Marathi is an original language that developed alongside Sanskrit rather than be an offshoot from it as originally thought.

Regardless of Marathi’s age and origins, it has been considered a language that has a unique position geographically and linguistically compared to the other Indian languages. Maharashtra is a centrally located state and Marathi has been in an interesting position as a language that is spoken in an area that neighbors the homes of the Dravidian languages spoken in southern India. However, Marathi has much more in common with the languages of northern India and has been seen as a “bridge language” between the northern and southern languages of India.

Based on the 2018 discoveries, multiple requests have been submitted to the Indian national government to have Marathi classified as a classical language. Six other Indian languages, including Tamil and Kannada, have been given this status that recognizes a language as being over 2000 years old and completely original from any other language. As of 2020, these requests are still being considered by the Indian government and Marathi is still not considered a classical language.

Whether or not Marathi is as old as the evidence suggests, it is still spoken by most of the people of Maharashtra and is the dominant language you will encounter if you ever travel there.

Did you know ... ?

According to the 2011 Indian Census, over 83 million Indians consider Marathi to be their first language. Mararthi is one of the most popular languages in India and over 95 million people worldwide speak it.

What are real-life examples of Marathi?

This video shows Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan speaking Marathi in an interview:

The Marathi language is shared worldwide through movies and music.

What other words are related to Marathi?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

Marathi is a language that was once spoken in Western India but has since been replaced by newer languages.

How to use Marathi in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Marathi



/ (məˈrɑːtɪ) /

of or relating to Maharashtra state in India, its people, or their language
the state language of Maharashtra, belonging to the Indic branch of the Indo-European family
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