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We have conflicting information on the etymology of the term; the original borrowing sequence I've put Gujarati < Portuguese < Tamil < Sanskrit was based on Merriam-Webster, and Dijan transformed it to Portuguese < Gujarati < Sanskrit which is apparently what Random House dictionary claims. Other dictionaries don't offer much details, but simply mention that it was named after the Hindu merchants who conducted business under the tree. --Ivan Štambuk 00:01, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

AHD also claims Portuguese < Gujarati < Sanskrit. --Ivan Štambuk 00:45, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

From w:Banyan:

The name was originally given to F. benghalensis and comes from India where early travellers observed that the shade of the tree was frequented by banias or Indian traders.[1]
In the Gujarati language, banyan means "merchant," not "tree." The Portuguese picked up the word to refer specifically to Hindu merchants and passed it along to the English as early as 1599 with the same meaning. By 1634, English writers began to tell of the banyan tree, a tree under which Hindu merchants would conduct their business. The tree provided a shaded place for a village meeting or for merchants to sell their goods. Eventually banyan came to mean the tree itself.
  1. ^ Yule, Henry, Sir. Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive. New ed. edited by William Crooke, B.A. London: J. Murray, 1903.


A feedback contributor suggests that banyan is a navy term for a party. I can find more evidence for "banyan party" (with banyan used as an adjective) than for the noun. Has anyone else heard the term? Banyan as an adjective derives from the religion of the Bannyans or Banians (Hindu sect) who are not permitted to eat any meat, thus Navy meat-free days were called banyan days, then they started saving meat from other days to have a beach party on the meat-free days. Dbfirs 17:34, 5 September 2009 (UTC)