Definition of punkah in English:

punkah

noun

historical
  • 1(in India) a large cloth fan on a frame suspended from the ceiling, moved backwards and forwards by pulling on a cord.

    as modifier ‘the punkah wallah fell asleep over his task’
    • ‘A retired punkah staggers from one pulley to the other.’
    • ‘I so want to be oiled by a nice clean punkah wallah.’
    • ‘I could tell it was her because of the punkah wallah holding a large sign bearing the words ‘Tessa Jowell IS HERE’.’
    • ‘Back in town, among the most distinctive digs are the Hotel Sofitel Central, a palatial, seafront pavilion of louvres, punkah fans and armies of gardeners.’
    1. 1.1Indian An electric fan.
      • ‘There was a pause during which I seemed to hear the regular gentle swish of the punkah and the steady buzzing of the cicadas in the sandalwood trees.’
      • ‘You can imagine yourself in a stifling ballroom in Calcutta, full of feverish gaiety, while punkahs languidly stir the air.’
      • ‘An ideally positioned bar and lounge under an open-thatch roof is cooled by the silent swish of punkahs, and decorated in harmonious green, cream and ebony.’
      • ‘Aware of the famous punkahs at Brisbane's Tattersalls Club, Addison's punkahs - his first - also form part of a strategy of passive environmental control.’
      air cooler, air conditioner, ventilator, blower, aerator
      View synonyms

Origin

Via Hindi from Sanskrit pakṣaka, from pakṣa ‘wing’.

Pronunciation

punkah

/ˈpʌŋkɑː//ˈpʌŋkə/