Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Urdu پردہ(parda), and its source, Persian پرده(parda, curtain).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpəːdɑː/, /ˈpəːdə/
    • (file)


purdah (countable and uncountable, plural purdahs)

  1. (chiefly South Asia) A curtain, especially as used to conceal and divide women from men and strangers in some Hindu or Muslim traditions. [from 17th c.]
    • 1888, Rudyard Kipling, “A Wayside Comedy”, in Under the Deodars[1], Folio Society, published 2005, page 34:
      As she passed through the dining-room, she heard, behind the purdah that cloaked the drawing-room door, her husband's voice []
    • 1924, E. M. Forster, A Passage to India, Penguin, published 2005, page 11:
      ‘Come and see my wife a little then,’ said Hamidullah, and they spent twenty minutes behind the purdah.
  2. (rare, obsolete) A striped cotton cloth which is used to make curtains. [19th c.]
  3. The state or system of social gender seclusion in some Muslim and Hindu communities. [from 19th c.]
  4. A long veil, or other all-enveloping clothing, worn by women in some Muslim societies. [from 20th c.]
    Hyponym: burka
  5. (figuratively) Secrecy, isolation. [from 20th c.]
    • 1989, Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces, Faber & Faber, published 2009:
      Still, though the lettrist movement was not casual—members might be fined, put in purdah, or even expelled for malingering—aesthetic pluralism remained in effect.
  6. (UK politics) The period immediately before an election or referendum during which restrictions are in force on the activity of civil servants.
    • 2021 June 2, “Network News: "Root and branch" review three years in the making”, in RAIL, number 932, page 10:
      Despite Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris's reassurance that "the White Paper is coming" it was further delayed by the period of purdah that preceded local elections held on May 6.

Usage notes[edit]

The use of a term that refers to the practice of secluding women for the pre-election period in the UK may be found offensive.

Related terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]




purdah (Jawi spelling ڤورده‎, plural purdah-purdah, informal 1st possessive purdahku, impolite 2nd possessive purdahmu, 3rd possessive purdahnya)

  1. veil (for a woman's face)

Further reading[edit]