Tamākhupaṇṇa & tamākhuvāṇija... What?

I am new to this forum, but I have been studying the suttas and slowly learning Pali for a while now and I’ve had this lingering question regarding two particular words: tamākhupaṇṇa (tobacco) & tamākhuvāṇija (tobacconist). I’ve never come across them in the texts and found them by accident in Buddhadatta’s dictionary. I thought it was odd. Tobacco? That can’t be right.

Obviously they’re both compound words and paņṇa is translated as leaf & vāṇija translated as trade. That’s straight forward. I never, however, have been able to figure out what tamākhu means by itself. Presumably it means tobacco, but doesn’t seem possible. Can’t find it. Sure there’s some similar words: tama, tāma, and tamāla, but they don’t seem to have any relation. I could be wrong.

Oddly enough I did come across that in Napoli the word for tobacco is tamākhu:
तमाखु [ tamākhu ] , NOM. tobacco.
—तमाखु खानु (cpd.) sp. pr. tamaakhu khaanu, VB TR. to smoke tobacco

I think I am missing something here. I imagine someone more learned than I will have a simple explanation.


Tobbaco was just recently brought out of the Americas (in the 1500s)

Have you tried searching for the terms within SuttaCentral?

Interesting post! Buddhadatta’s dictionary includes a number of neologisms. I’m not really sure of the process he used: are these words actually used by anyone in Pali, or simply words he thought might be used?

In any case, Google translate tells us that various Indic words translate “tobacco” similarly:

  • Hindi:तंबाकू tambaakoo
  • Gujarati: તમાકુ Tamāku
  • Kannada: ತಂಬಾಕು Tambāku

Sinhalese is දුම්කොළ dumkoḷa, so he probably didn’t use that as the basis. Presumably he used Hindi or another dialect as the basis, then expressed it in a form that sounds Pali.

As the presence of the “b” makes clear, the term in general must be derived from the English word “tobacco”.


I had a suspicion that it might be a neologism, but I was unaware that Buddhadatta had done that with other words.

Of course, which was why I was puzzled by Buddhadatta’s term. Didn’t seem to have a place in the Pali lexicon to me and clearly wouldn’t be used by anyone pre-Columbian.

Issue resolved. Thanks.
Metta. :pray:t3: