or Pan·ja·bi

[ puhn-jah-bee ]
/ pʌnˈdʒɑ bi /
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noun, plural Pun·ja·bis for 1.
a native or inhabitant of the Punjab.
an Indic language of the Punjab.
of or relating to the Punjab, its people, or their language.
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Origin of Punjabi

First recorded in 1780–90; Punjab + a suffix indicating relationship or origin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does Punjabi mean?

A Punjabi is a person who is from or lives in Punjab, a former UK province.

Punjabi is also the language spoken by the people of Punjab.

Punjab was a province of British India until 1947. In that year, the province was split between the Asian countries of India and Pakistan. The majority of the former Punjab is now located in Pakistan, as the eastern province of Punjab. The rest of the land makes up the northwestern Indian state of Punjab.

According to the 2011 Indian Census, just over 33 million speakers of Punjabi lived in India. It was the 11th most popular language in the country at that time, with 2.7 percent of the country speaking it.

According to the CIA Factbook, Punjabis are the largest ethnic group in Pakistan, making up 44.7 percent of the population, and the Punjabi language is spoken by 48 percent of the country.

Why is Punjabi important?

The first records of the term Punjabi come from around 1780. It combines Punjab and the suffix -ī, which indicates relationship or origin. Punjab comes from the Persian words panj (five) and ab (water). Punjabi is the language or people of Punjab, an area where five rivers flow.

Like most Indic languages, Punjabi traces its origins back to ancient Sanskrit. In India, written Punjabi uses the Gurmukhi script. This script is associated with the Sikhs, the majority religious group in the Indian Punjab. In India, Punjabi is written from left to right.

In Pakistan, written Punjabi uses the Urdu script and is written from right to left, as with Arabic. This is a result of the Pakistan Punjab’s large Muslim majority and history of rule under Muslim dynasties.

These differences in language reflect the differences of the Punjabi peoples. In India, Punjab has a Sikh majority with a large Hindi minority as well as Christian and Muslim groups. In Pakistan, Punjab is largely Muslim.

Did you know … ?

Punjabi’s two scripts of Gurmukhi in India and Urdu in Pakistan make it one of the few languages in the world with more than one written language that are completely different from each other.

What are real-life examples of Punjabi?

As you might have guessed, people of South Asian heritage are more likely to be familiar with the Punjabi language and people.

What other words are related to Punjabi?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

Punjabi is a language spoken mainly in the countries of India and Pakistan.

How to use Punjabi in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Punjabi



/ (pʌnˈdʒɑːbɪ) /

a member of the chief people of the Punjab
the state language of the Punjab, belonging to the Indic branch of the Indo-European family
of or relating to the Punjab, its people, or their language
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