• synonyms


or pur·da, par·dah

See more synonyms for purdah on Thesaurus.com
noun (in India, Pakistan, etc.)
  1. the seclusion of women from the sight of men or strangers, practiced by some Muslims and Hindus.
  2. a screen, curtain, or veil used for this purpose.
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Origin of purdah

1790–1800; < Hindi, Urdu pardah curtain < Persian
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

kerchief, mantle, veil, shawl, bonnet, protector, hat, wimple, purdah, cowl, yashmak, babushka, mantilla, coif, capuchin, seraglio, capuche, serai, zenana

Examples from the Web for purdah

Historical Examples

  • At the end of the room was a purdah or curtain, and behind it people were talking.

    Wanderings in India

    John Lang

  • He had not been backward, however, in awakening his grandfather to purdah manœuvres.

    Far to Seek

    Maud Diver

  • Anybody would think, to listen to some people, that the purdah flourished in Chelsea.

    The Roll-Call

    Arnold Bennett

  • The purdah rustled, and the speech was cut short by the entry of a little, thin woman with big rings round her eyes.

  • A male doctor attending a zenana lady would put his hand between the purdah to feel her pulse.

British Dictionary definitions for purdah



  1. the custom in some Muslim and Hindu communities of keeping women in seclusion, with clothing that conceals them completely when they go out
  2. a screen in a Hindu house used to keep the women out of view
  3. a veil worn by Hindu women of high caste
  4. informal hiding or isolationthe Treasury is currently locked in pre-budget purdah
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Word Origin

C19: from Hindi parda veil, from Persian pardah
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 purdah


1800, from Urdu and Persian pardah "veil, curtain," from Old Persian pari "around, over" (from PIE *per- (1); see per-) + da- "to place", from PIE *dhe- "to set, put" (see factitious).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper