You’ve probably heard of the terms hookah and shisha. And you may be aware that both of these phrases have the same underlying meaning or implication. A shisha is a hookah, and vice versa. Both are the same types of water pipes that we have come to know and appreciate.
Do hookah and shisha, on the other hand, literally imply the same thing? What distinguishes hookah from shisha? Or are we just fretting over language and terminology when nothing else matters but the delectable flavors in enormous clouds? So, let’s settle the hookah vs. shisha debate.
Hookah and Shisha are not synonyms in any language on the planet.
The term “hookah” is derived from the Hindustani word “huqqa.” Hindustani is a dialect rather than a language. It’s a mix of Urdu and Hindi. In India, both of these languages are extensively spoken. Thus, the English hookah derives from Indian or Hindustani huqqa.
That’s hardly surprising given that the British had vast areas of India as colonies when hookah became popular in the Asian subcontinent and later spread throughout the United Kingdom and Europe.
It’s worth noting that huqqa isn’t a Hindustani or Urdu word. This word has Arabic origins. Huqqa is an Arabic word that signifies jar or casket. In India, huqqa refers to the smoking equipment or water pipe known as hookah or shisha. However, the term shisha has its own unique backstory.
Shisha is an Indian word that meaning glass in both Hindi and Urdu. Shisha is derived from the Persian word’shishe,’ which is also known as’sise’ in Turkish Arabic. Shisha is glass in all of these languages, including Egyptian Arabic.
Now, let’s look at the bigger picture of the terms hookah and shisha.
- Hookah is a container or casket. As a result, the term does not refer to a whole smoking equipment that includes a water base, vase, or jar.
- Shisha is the Arabic word for glass, which is what a hookah base or vase is constructed of. As a result, referring to hookah as shisha isn’t literally incorrect.
This entire discussion of hookah and shisha, however, is inadequate because other labels exist for the same smoking device we know and love.
Hookah or Shisha is also known as Narghile, Nargileh, Nargile, and Narguile, all of which are from Narikela.
In several places, shisha or hookah is also called as narghile, nargileh, nargile, or narguile, including the following:
All of these terms allude to what we call hookah or shisha. However, neither jar (huqqa) nor glass is the meaning of these words (shisha). The words hookah or shisha are currently used in various languages, but they originated in Sanskrit.
- Hookahs are referred to as narguiles in French and other languages. This word is derived from nargileh, nargile, or narghile.
- Nargileh is a Persian or Iranian term for a smoking pipe with a coconut shell bowl, similar to how shisha refers to the glass base.
- Nargile, narghile, or nargileh is derived from the Sanskrit term narikela, which meaning “coconut” in the old Indian language.
- Narikela or nargileh are coconut shells that were used as the base to contain water to smoke tobacco, similar to how we use glass vases in modern hookahs or shishas.
- While coconut shells are no longer used as the foundation for modern hookahs or shishas, the terms nargile, narghile, nargileh, and narguile are still used in various languages.
In modern Iran, hookah or shisha is also known as qalyan. In Russia, the same word is spelled kalyan or kaliyan. As a result, as certain root words traverse areas, cultures, and languages, they become new terms.
Hookah and Shisha are the same type of smoking water pipe in popular culture.
To summarize the linguistic conflict, here is what we know about hookah and shisha:
- Hookah, also known as huqqa, is a casket or jar that serves as the base, vessel, or smoking equipment for shisha.
- Shisha literally means “glass,” which is what current hookah bases and vases are made of, hence this phrase is used practically everywhere.
- Narghile, derived from narikela, is the coconut shell that was once used to hold water for these pipes.
Hookah and shisha are now equally ubiquitous phrases not only in American culture, but also throughout parts of Europe and Asia. Every modern feature has its own name, such as foils, heat management devices, diffusers, and so on. So, whether you say hookah or shisha, they both refer to the same type of smoking water pipe in popular culture in the United States and worldwide.