lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Search for meaning

An inquiring mind is essential to acquire knowledge.

When I want to find out something, I consult my reference books. If they don't provide a ready answer, like millions of people all over the world, I turn to Google for answers nowadays.

Google does provide links that answer whatever doubt I am trying to clear. Some days though, Google provides me as an answer. Don't laugh. Really it does. Enter the search words "what does Neha mean" and see. People do, and they arrive at my blog.

The results are proof that Lali is the answer, sometimes. There is a web definition that Neha is an Indian actress and a link to Wiki. The next result is my post where I mused upon names and meanings and wondered what Neha meant.

I didn't know there was an actress called Neha, and I didn't know any Neha then. Now I do both. I still don't know what Neha means, though.

Neha herself said it means two things, love or rain. These links seem to think so too. I searched Sanskrit dictionaries online, and there were no results for Neha other than an invitation to consider 'neh' and a definition for that which boggles the mind.

My Telugu dictionaries, the six-volume Suryaraayaandhra Nighantuvu and Sabda Ratnaakaramu didn't have an entry for Neha either. But they did have 'Neharamu', which is a variation of 'NevaLamu', which means a gem encrusted necklace.

Then I checked my Brown. CP Brown is greatly revered by Telugu scholars, and rightly so. His Telugu-English dictionary and the English-Telugu dictionary are a source of joy. As also his translation of Vemana. I checked my copy, but you can do the search online, and find out what has been occupying Missus Em's mind today.

My BrowNyam tells me that 'NevaLamu' is bloom and brilliance, daintiness and tenderness, apart from meaning a necklace. Sounds good. 'Neehaaramu' means hoarfrost and dew, and 'Neehaarika' means a bit of frost. Or perhaps a moisture-bearing cloudlet. So if taken as a variant of 'Neehaaramu' Neha could mean moisture I suppose. I prefer the daintiness/tenderness, and bloom/brilliance version, myself.

I have spent the afternoon searching, going off tangents, reading online; I have a better idea, but I'm still not sure what Neha means. My inquiring mind has acquired knowledge today but not certainty.



Anonymous Ash said...

You missed out searching for Eha and Eeha and applying the negative prefix. I am surprised, Lali. What exactly did the Brownyam say for NevaLamu?

6:31 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ash- Nothing of the sort. I considered the negative prefix. Na + Eeha doesn't work, as 'Eeha' can be a synonym for woman, and desire or deed. Na + Eha doesn't work, either. 'Ehyamu' is that which is abhorrent, and with a negative prefix it will have to be 'Naihyamu' or 'Nehyamu'; it may work for for Nehya, if you stretch it, to mean that which is likeable or desirable, but it is a stretch.

I did do the research, I did, I did! *stamps foot*

7:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always thought "Neha" meant "within/without".No?

9:03 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Raj- That too. *grins*

But alas, it also means debating with a buddy about etymology about negative prefixes in Indian languages and quibbling. Now it means fervent wishing I never wrote about it, too.

The post evolved out of a discussion of prefixes in Indian language nouns. Pra, vi, na, ni, or indeed 'a' and how they alter meanings.

Not this, not this, like the scriptures tell us. "Neti, neti."

9:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ought to switch my affections to Neha. Lovely poem.

Getting tongue-tied, are you? Your posts are getting shorter and shorter, lady.

Secret admirer.

11:41 pm  
Anonymous Hehhh said...

The name means "I had one grunch but the eggplant over there " ...

: )

See ? Whereas you have a 1000 word exploration of your name.

I forgot to say, BTW, that the swearer knows where the sew pinches@ some posts ago.

9:42 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Anon- Please, you are free to shift your affections. And yes, a lovely poem.

Hehhh- *Wince* That's beyond atrocious, really, truly. The post is only some 400 words long, and anon is complaining my posts are getting shorter, didn't you notice? My own name will require a thousand word essay, I agree.

10:28 am  
Anonymous Hehhh said...

Ohh, it exists no... the Lalita Sahasranamam one meant : )

I know, you probably have issews with Punjabber.

11:31 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Oh, that is just singing my praises and listing my attributes. Not etymology.

Don't you know a pun is the lowest form of humour, if you didn't think of it first?

1:43 pm  
Anonymous Hehhh said...

Which is why it is also the base of all humor, if you did think of it, from the same definition.

: )

1:47 pm  
Blogger Priya said...

For a brief moment, on reading the opening line, I thought you were referring to our never ending messaging last night :P Shed your feline instincts now, have you? ;)

4:08 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Hehhh- Touche' Monsieur. I am jealous, I am.

Priya- Don't you know about cat ad mouse games, angel? I merely am biding my time. Tee hee.

4:25 pm  
Blogger Srikanth said...

It's a Hindi word of probably Sanskrit origin (a tatbhava). [Link]

4:59 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Srikanth- Thanks for the link. That rounds off my search perfectly. But it was fun musing. I did mention the oil/ wetness conjecture in my earlier post about names and meanings, though. It was when my search failed to turn up any links that I turned to my Telugu dictionaries, on the premise that as a tadbhava word, I might find some pointers. This link confirms that.

5:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Priya- Her number, her number! My kingdom for her number!
Secret admirer.

6:09 pm  
Blogger Priya said...

@Anon: name first, honey...the kingdom can follow ;) And Lali, I hope u note that he's your secret admirer and he wants my cell no??!!

6:10 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- I think anon is asking for mine. Maybe yours, too. ;)

6:21 pm  
Anonymous Prophet of Doom said...

* Yaawwn *

6:01 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ram- *Sigh*

3:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you've caught another person searching for the meaning of neha. this neha dances to salsa music in chicago. said it means "love", but i had to verify.

8:40 am  
Anonymous Neha said...

Hi. My name is Neha, and it means love, affection. Not moisture. Not even rain. Just love and affection.

10:24 am  
Blogger Lalita said...

Neha- Hi. How are you so sure? The fun is in finding out, and exploring possible etymology, you know?

11:05 am  
Blogger Naren said...

If there is no past evidence, then we, the present, are the evidence ; we create etymology for next generations to come.

If many people believe that Neha means love and affection, then make them correct. and I do believe that Neha means Love, Affection.
'prepone and updation' made their places to dictionaries based on usage; so does Neha if there was no evidence.

Neha's father

4:23 am  
Blogger Lalita said...

Naren- You are quite right that meanings change and words come to mean what we choose them to mean. So love and affection it is, Neha's Dad. :-)

10:03 pm  
Blogger Silence said...

Got directed to your blog through a link left by someone on my blog. Great blog and lovely posts.
Never knew someone had actually done so much research on the name Neha !

2:09 am  
Blogger NN said...


My name is Neha. Thank God they are not making a movie by that title based of I am Sam :D

Having being given this name i have suffered at the hands of this quandary too. Just like you. and i am surprised to share this experience with a non-neha! :D

So my research and pouring through many hindi dictionaries gave me -
'neh' mean ghee! i was so annoyed :D!

ofcourse on enquiring the giver of the name of its origins, she simply states, "we went to see a movie the heroin was named Neha, we liked it and we named you" - i suspect the alleged movie was - Chashm-e-badoor.

khair, she did say it means love and affection and she is a Sanskrit scholar.

in a conversation with a friend, he revealed that there are a couple of types(5-6) of love in hindu philosophy. One of them is Neha which refers to the affection between siblings.

My analysis is : although the word Neha does not appear in the dictionaries, the word 'Sneha' does and purports to unambiguously mean love. i suspect Sneha is the etymological evolution of SuNeha, 'su' meaning good an beautiful. My conclusion is that although the original word 'neha' has died out of current vocabulary, it is survived by its cousin sneha. And and the name is but its ghost.

2:00 am  
Blogger NN said...

Lalitaji, just read ur other post 'what's in a name'. ofcourse 'Neha' does not start with a negetive. a negetive would be 'aneha' or 'kuneha' (something lady Gaga alludes to in her rendition of Bad Romance perhaps)..i believe ofcourse, i must, :D that neha is the root itself, sans prefix or suffix.

2:11 am  
Anonymous Neha said...

@NN - I think we are sailing in the same boat..My folks also named me 'Neha' after watching the movie 'Chashme Buddoor...& I think suddenly many Nehas'..popped out in 1981 ! And on questioning them I was told it meant Love and Affection :).

@Lalita - this is an interesting blog! Thanks!

6:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read somewhere on the web that Neha means 'not from here', Na_Eha. 'Here' meaning this world. Neha then means an Angel,a Farishta!

3:59 pm  

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