One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A member of a traditionally matrilineal Hindu ruling caste in Kerala, India. Formerly also in extended use.
Of or relating to the Nairs.
Late 16th century; earliest use found in Nicholas Lichefield (fl. 1582). From Portuguese naire from Malayalam nāyar members of ruling caste, soldiers in general, plural of nāyaṉ leader from Sanskrit nāya from nī- to lead. The origin of the some forms in -o is unclear; the earliest example is immediately after Dutch Nayros (plural), which may be from a back-formation (perhaps in Portuguese) based on Italian naeri.
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