One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Of land in Bengal and some other parts of India: held on a permanent tenure in return for the payment of a certain rent.
Late 18th century. From Bengali rāiyatī from Urdu raʿīyatī tenancy, land allocated for tenancy or its apparent etymon Persian raʿīyatī from raʿīyat + -ī, suffix forming abstract nouns, expressing belonging.
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