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From Tamil சுண்ணம் (cuṇṇam, lime, ground mortar), from Sanskrit चूर्ण (cūrṇa, powder; lime).



chunam (usually uncountable, plural chunams)

  1. A type of plaster used in India, made from shell-lime and sand.
    • 1888, Rudyard Kipling, ‘On the City Wall’, In Black and White, Folio Society 2005, p. 429:
      The floor of the room was of polished chunam, white as curds.
    • 1924, EM Forster, A Passage to India, Penguin 2005, p. 106:
      ‘Look at the flies. Look at the chunam coming off the walls.’


chunam (third-person singular simple present chunams, present participle chunaming, simple past and past participle chunamed)

  1. (transitive) To plaster or waterproof with chunam.
    • The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 8 March 1848
      A PUNT FOR SALE, thirty-four feet long, twelve feet broad, and three feet ten inches deep, chunamed, sheathed, and coppered, carries about fifteen tons.