Lesson 13


13.1 Words Beginning with Sa-

The prefix sam- (“altogether”, expressing conjunction, union, completeness) is very common, and thus there are many words beginning with it; since the final -m is often replaced with the anusvāra, difficulties may arise if the rules for pronouncing the anusvāra are not thoroughly practiced.

In looking up words containing the anusvāra it is essential to sound the word, replacing the anusvāra with its savarṇa nasal where applicable, and then look up the word in the standard alphabetical order with that substituted nasal. For example, in the word संप्रदान the anusvāra is sounded as the savarṇa म् and is then found in the dictionary where one would expect to find सम्प्रदान; similarly for संकल्प, look up सङ्कल्प; for संज्ञा, सञ्ज्ञा; and for संधि, सन्धि; etc.

There are two points to bear in mind here: firstly, the tradition followed by Monier-Williams makes this nasal substitution only before a sparśa (the twenty-five from ka to ma); and secondly, one needs to make the same nasal substitution for the anusvāra for the words in the dictionary, i.e., sound them!

Do remember that in the dictionary the anusvāra before an antaḥstha is not substituted with a nasal: for example the anusvāra in संवार is not substituted and therefore, in the dictionary order where the anusvāra appears before the consonants, संवार will be before सगर which in turn will be before संकल्प, the last being in the dictionary order of सङ्कल्प.

As an illustration of the importance of sounding the words, examine the third column of page 1125 of the dictionary: the last three words given in devanāgarī script are संकील, सङ्कु, and संकुच् — and that is the alphabetical order in sound!

This principle applies wherever the anusvāra occurs, and not only to words beginning with sam-. For example, in column two of page 124 is the entry अहम् in devanāgarī, and derived from it (and hence transliterated) is the next entry word Ahaṃ (note the anusvāra): the samāsa formed with ahaṃ — (-yāti, -yu, -vādin, etc.) are listed in alphabetical order — but note that the sparśa (-karaṇa, -kartavya, etc.) are listed after the antaḥstha and ūṣman. Again, the anusvāra is sounded with its replacement savarṇa nasal to give अहङ्करण (and, of course, follows the anusvāra in the alphabetical order).


13.2 Structure of Devanāgarī Level

The outermost layer of the dictionary, namely the entries in devanāgarī script, should ideally only contain dhātu, but in practice it includes those words whose form has changed radically (e.g., by samprasāraṇa), or have a prefix added, or whose dhātu is not known.

Turn to page 733 of the dictionary and examine the devanāgarī entries in the first column. The last word in this column is in large devanāgarī type, indicating a major dhātu: the entry for this word begins with its transliterated form, followed by “cl. I” which stands for “class-1”. There are ten classes of dhātu (i.e., ten ways of conjugating verbs), but this, together with the other information given in the dhātu entry, will be explained in the next lesson. At this stage, simply be aware that a devanāgarī entry, followed by its transliterated form and a class number, is a dhātu.

Returning to the top of the first column, the first entry is बीभ्, which is a dhātu, and is followed by बीभत्स which is not a dhātudhātu, but the entry shows that it is derived from the dhātubādh. For the next three words, no etymology is given, which means that the dhātu is not known (to Monier-Williams anyway) and may be foreign words absorbed into Sanskrit. The word बुक् is onomatopoeic (i.e., it sounds like the thing signified). This is followed by बुक whose etymology is not known, the dhātu बुक्क्, and बुक्कस whose root is not known. The next dhātu बुङ्ग् is also given the alternative reading vuṅg; the similarity in both sound and form of and allows this to happen. The next two entries are dhātu; note that बुट् is given as both class-1 and -10, and बुड् is class-6. These are followed by the onomatopoeic बुडबुड, the personal name बुदिल, and the dhātu बुद्. The next word, बुद्ध, gives references to columns two and three: common words like this are often listed in the devanāgarī with a cross-reference given to their etymological entry position. This is followed by the onomatopoeic बुद्बुद् and finally the dhātu बुध्

That was a pretty mixed bag of words, but does illustrate the many types of entries listed in devanāgarī, except for those beginning with a prefix which form the bulk of the words listed in devanāgarī. Page 672 of the dictionary is representative of this type of entry: the second column begins with प्रतिसच् and in transliteration is conveniently split into the prefix and dhātu as prati-sac; the next entry प्रतिसंचर् has two prefixes prati-samcar, and half-way down the column is प्रतिसमादिश् having three prefixes prati-sam-ādiś. The transliteration shows the etymology of the word, and allows each element to be separately examined in the dictionary.


13.3 Structure Within Non-dhātu Entries

The entries for nāman (nouns), viśeṣaṇa (adjectives), and avyaya (indeclinables, typically kriyā-viśeṣaṇa adverbs), are listed in their prātipadika form, followed by a description indicating their meaning.

The first division of nāman is into liṅga (gender), and this is shown in the dictionary my “m.”, “f.”, or “n.” (masculine, feminine, neuter). The viśeṣaṇa, in bringing a quality to a nāman, must have the same liṅga as that nāman, and must therefore be able to take any form of the three liṅga, and are thus indicated in the dictionary as “mfn.”

Examine the entry for Buddha in the second column of page 733: it begins with “mfn.”, indicating a viśeṣaṇa; however, six lines down is “m. a wise or learned man”, so Buddha can also be a masculine nāman; and further down (just before the bold type -kapālinī) is “n. knowledge”, thus the word Buddha can also be a neuter noun.

Thus the same prātipadika form may be a viśeṣaṇa or a nāman, so if the heading word indicates “mfn.” one may yet find “m.” etc., buried in the text for that word. The converse does not apply: had the entry been “Buddha, m. a wise man”, there will be no “mfn.” buried in the text — this reflects the overall structure of the dictionary in tapering down from the general to the particular, from a quality (viśeṣaṇa) to the specific (nāman).

A fuller illustration of this principle is shown under the entry दीर्घ near the bottom of the third column of page 481:

1st line: mf(ā)n. long, lofty, tall… viśeṣaṇa form
5th line: (am) ind. long, for a long time… avyaya form
7th line: m. a long vowel… puṃ-liṅga nāman
12th line: (ā) f. an oblong tank… strī-liṅga nāman
14th line: n. a species of grass… napuṃsaka-liṅga nāman

This is the general order followed in the dictionary within the text for an entry word.

Return to page 733, and lightly read through the text for the word Buddha: the information provided about Gautama Buddha (the founder of Buddhism) is typical of the encyclopedic scope of the dictionary.

Now lightly read through the text for the word Buddhi in the third column. Here, as a bonus, you are given an insight into the mythology of India, where the gods and their consorts are the personification of universal forces: from Dakṣa (the Creative Force) arises Buddhi (Intelligence), which, guided by Dharma (Law), produces Bodha (Knowledge).


13.4 References and Abbreviations

On page xxxiii of the Introduction is the List of Works and Authors that Monier-Williams has consulted in compiling the dictionary: look for a few works that you know to see how it is abbreviated in the body of the dictionary, for example, Bhag. for Bhagavad-gītā and MBh. for MahāBhārata.

The next page of the dictionary has a list of symbols that are used: read through and understand these. The last four symbols are not very clear, but will be elucidated in the next section.

The following page of the dictionary lists the abbreviations that are used.

Make it a discipline to look up the references (when appropriate) and abbreviations (always) when you are not sure what it stands for — this way you will very soon become familiar with them.


13.5 Special Symbols and ˆ

The little circle ( ) is a standard abbreviation symbol in the devanāgarī script to denote either the first or last part of a word that has to be supplied from the context. Monier-Williams also uses this symbol to abbreviate English words in order to save space. As an illustration of its use, if the word “conscious” is under discussion, rather than repeat the word in full, the abbreviation con or even c may be used; similarly ly would mean consciously, and ness, consciousness.


The caret symbols (pictured above) denote a joining of vowels, short or long. These are used in the transliterated script for samāsa (compound words), and very helpfully indicate the length of the final and initial vowels at the point of union, so that the words may readily be looked up separately:

denotes the joining of two short vowels: a + a
denotes the joining of a long with a short vowel: ā + a
denotes the joining of a short with a long vowel: a + ā
denotes the joining of two long vowels: ā + ā

These are also used when the rules of sandhi change the vowel sound:

a + i a + ū

13.6 Significance of Hyphen and Caret Symbols

Turning again to page 733 column two, find the samāsa listed under Buddha beginning with -kapālinī and -kalpa: the hyphen not only indicates that the word is appended to Buddha (see section 12.3, but that kapālinī and kalpa are words that may be separately looked up in the dictionary, and this is why the next samāsa, -kāya-varṇa-parinishpatty-abhinirhārā is itself hyphenated (each element, kāya and varṇa for example, may usually be separately found in the dictionary).

Where the samāsa is printed in full, as in Buddhāgama, which stands for Buddha-āgama, this use of the caret symbol allows the second word of the samāsato be correctly determined as beginning with a dīrgha ā, so that āgama can be separately looked up. Similarly, the samāsa printed as Buddhaiḍūka stands for Buddha-eḍūka and not Buddha-aiḍūka (which are the two possibilities listed in the vowel sandhi grid of 10.A.3: the reasoning here is that, although and are both long vowels, the “weaker” of the two vowels in terms of guṇa and vṛddhi 1 (see section 10.A.2, is given the thin stroke in the caret symbol.


13.7 Supplement to Dictionary

If a word is not found in the main dictionary, look for it in the supplement of Additions and Corrections beginning on page 1308.


13.8 Dictionary Practice

Look up the words in the following list in the dictionary: the words may be at any of the four levels of alphabetical order, and they may be printed in devanāgarī or transliterated Roman or both, and hyphenated appropriately.

  1. अन्वयव्यतिरेक
  2. लघुसत्त्वता
  3. विवाहकाल
  4. संस्कृत
  5. कलियुग
  6. मूढ
  7. संगममणि
  8. क्षत्रियधर्म
  9. बालरूपधृक्
  10. भगवद्गीता
  11. मनोभवशासन
  12. विवेक
  13. संयोग
  14. ध्यानयोग
  15. अध्यारोप
  16. श्रद्धातृ
  17. हिरण्यगर्भ
  18. पूर्वपक्षपाद
  19. म्लेच्छजाति
  20. अगृहीत
  1. The grammatical terms guṇa (“secondary form”) and vṛddhi (“increase”) can be considered as degrees of strengthening of the three primary vowels. (See Lesson 10.A.2)