Definition of purdah in US English:



  • 1The practice among women in certain Muslim and Hindu societies of living in a separate room or behind a curtain, or of dressing in all-enveloping clothes, in order to stay out of the sight of men or strangers.

    ‘he required them to observe purdah’
    ‘she was supposed to be in purdah upstairs’
    • ‘He proposed abandonment of purdah and more freedom to women among the Maharashtra Sunni Muslim community.’
    • ‘During purdah they deliberately avoided issues that may breach purdah.’
    • ‘Traditionally, the custom of purdah (seclusion of women) was not followed.’
    • ‘Outlawing of polygamy and purdah within Islam and a call for the emancipation of Mulsim women also find place in that period.’
    • ‘He tried to liberate women from the practices of purdah (wearing a veil) as well as preaching strongly against the practice of sati (Hindu wife burning on her husbands funeral pyre).’
    • ‘The woman in hijab - call it purdah, scarf, mafta, or whatever - doesn't throw herself as a poster for the oppressed womanhood.’
    • ‘Where social life outside of the compound may be limiting for women due to the institution of purdah, within the household, the movements of women are not constrained.’
    • ‘The idea that if one gives up a customary religious practice such as purdah, that one is ceasing to be a Muslim altogether is an egregious misrepresentation of what it takes to be a Muslim.’
    • ‘For example, women do not practice purdah, or seclusion.’
    • ‘He deprecated the practice of purdah and sati, encouraged inter-caste alliances and remarriage of widows.’
    • ‘Its famous Palace of the Winds is actually just a wafer-thin facade designed to enable the court's women to observe processions in style, without compromising their purdah.’
    • ‘The Hurriyat recommends limited rights for women including the imposition of gender discrimination, purdah, segregation etc. as prescribed by the sharia.’
    • ‘Their wives wear burqas and observe strict purdah.’
    • ‘On the contrary, teenage girls today are observing purdah.’
    • ‘The degree and kind (the actual veiling or seclusion) of purdah observed by women has varied across time and place and from family to family and is also related to class status.’
    • ‘Religious fanatics in the provincial congress compete to introduce measures to restrict women: one MP is trying to make purdah compulsory; another has targeted sport for women and schoolgirls.’
    • ‘We hold separate gatherings in our home and observe purdah as much as possible so it isn't that we're looking for any way possible to go against the commandments of Allah.’
    • ‘More than purdah impacting a Muslim woman's mobility, it is the attitude of the men that puts shackles on their mobility - for education or work.’
    • ‘For a woman, a death in the home - with purdah, which literally means curtain - is a death of honor.’
    • ‘The idea of purdah was acquired from Persian and Byzantine societies, which secluded women out of deference and honor, not in order to humiliate them.’
    isolation, solitude, retreat, privacy, privateness, retirement, withdrawal, an ivory tower, concealment, hiding, secrecy, peace, peace and quiet, peacefulness, quietness, lack of disturbance, lack of interruption, freedom from interference
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A curtain used for screening off women.
      • ‘The memory of his grandmother's rousing speech to the electorate from behind the purdah when his mother contested in the elections is the event he recalls as the most moving in his life.’
      • ‘Learn to read, and while you are seated behind the purdah you may make a tour of the whole world.’
      window hanging, hanging, screen, blind
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A state of seclusion or secrecy.
      ‘the supermarket's own self-imposed purdah on the GM issue’
      ‘expect the lawyers to re-emerge from their temporary purdah when the legislation is published’
      • ‘Although in the forties, women in the "family way" were no longer confined to their homes to conceal their delicate conditions, those conditions were still confined to a kind of cinematic purdah.’
      • ‘Do they want him to go around hanging his head in shame, in some sort of judicial purdah?’
      • ‘It's a magnum opus of a double album, too, which is good news, for if all she had managed to come up with after a dozen years in purdah were 10 songs and 40 minutes of music, we might well have felt short-changed.’
      • ‘Will you be imposing a pub-opening purdah?’
      • ‘Having escaped the law her only option was self-imposed purdah on a remote Scottish island.’
      • ‘It was almost like saying, "please, please go into purdah and don't appear until you've had this child and look like a normal human being again."’
      • ‘Children's reputations stand and fall on the size of the goody bag their guests are offered—if it doesn't contain a computer console, a DVD, and a phone they will be in social purdah until their next birthday.’
      • ‘Phil struggled to get back to reality after his purdah in the UK.’
      • ‘After eight years of purdah, the former presidents have finally emerged into the glare of the television cameras.’
      • ‘He has barely been seen or heard in the media since he went into purdah in the wake of the donation revelations.’


Early 19th century: from Urdu and Persian parda ‘veil, curtain’.