pra mit ? - an inquiry

Richard Salomon rsalomon at
Fri Feb 17 19:07:55 UTC 1995

Dear Pramit,

This is an interesting question; not exactly the sort of thing this list 
was meant for, but welcome nonetheless, and more interesting 
than a lot of what has been coming over lately. 

Anway: Pramit (as noted by a previous respondent) is no doubt the same as 
Sanskrit pramita, which means, literally, 'measured', from the root maa
'measure' and the common prefix pra-, which in this case does not substantially 
change the meaning of the root (traditional commentators would probably 
gloss it as meaning '', 'especially,' by way of a vague 
'emphasis').  The name probably does not, however, have anything to do 
with Sanskrit mitra, 'friend,' as has been suggested.

The term pramita has a distinctly favorable connotation of 
'(correctly/precisely/carefully) measured out'; compare the related noun, '(true) measure; (reliable/authoritative) source of knowledge; 
authority'.  Moreover, it 
seems to be especially appropriate to your last name, if, as I suspect, it  
corresponds to Sanskrit bhaa.sin, 'speaker'.  I am not familiar with this 
family name, but this would seem to me to be a possible etymology.  And 
if so, your whole name would mean "Measured Speaker," implying something 
like "One who speaks limited words," i.e. who speaks only when he has 
something to say (and vice versa).   

By the way, I wonder if you ever tried asking the
Americans who ask you what your name means, what their own names mean?  I 
doubt that many if any of them would know.  English, and especially 
American names are generally much more difficult to understand 
etymologically than Indian ones, due to linguistic changes, diverse 
sources, etc.  Most people don't even bother thinking about these things 
until they meet some foreigner with an exotic-sounding name.

-Richard Salomon (a.k.a. Rule-hard Peacemaker)
University of Washington 


On Fri, 17 Feb 1995, Pramit Bhasin wrote:

> Namaste,
> My name is Pramit Bhasin and I am a third year medical student at New Jersey
> Medical School in USA. This spring I will celebrate my seventh aniversary in
> America. Though much has changed around me since the time of my arrival in
> the states there remains one constant in my life. I can say with an element
> of certainty, that, my name has always been an immense source of curiosity
> for both Americans and my own Indian brethern. Often I am asked, " What does
> your name mean." On numerous occasions this has even been an embarracement -
> for I don't know what it means.
> I have looked up several hindi dictionarys but to my dismay I have been
> unable to find what it means. Even my Hindi teacher in high school was quite
> perplexed about the origins of my name. It is difficult to write the exact
> phoenitic pronounciation of my name in English - but I will do my best. 
> My name has two sounds. The first is pra ( pra is the same as the first sound
> in prana - life) and the second sound is mit ( as in the name amit or mitesh)
> I sincerely hope that someone will be of assistance in seven year long quest
> of mine.I also hope that this query of mine is in accordance with the set
> forth objectives of this list - my apologies to all if it isn't.
> Sincerly 
> pramit bhasin


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