The Many Names for Hookah

John Guccione

The Many Names for Hookah

The Hookah has been around for centuries and goes by many names which differs, depending on where you are in the world and in what century you are talking about.   The word hookah is a derivative of "huqqa", which is a Hindustani word of Arabic origin meaning "water pipe".  

In the Middle East region of the world, the Hookah in Arabic Romanized, is known as "Arjīlah". This is the name most commonly used in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Iraq. While "Nargilah" (Hebrew: נַרְגִּילָה‎, Arabic: نارجيلة‎) is the name most commonly used in Israel.  

In India, hookahs were known as narghiles. Narghile comes from the word narcil, meaning coconut wood. Other regions of India pronounce it Nargilah also derived from nārgil which in turn comes from the Sanskrit word nārikela. This also translates to "coconut", likely due to the fact that early hookahs were hewn from coconut shells. In Persian, it is known as qalyān.

In parts of Europe, the names for the Hookah follow the "Narghile" derivative. As "Narguile" is the common word in Spain used to refer to the pipe, although "cachimba" is also used, along with "shisha" by Moroccan immigrants in Spain. The word "narguilé" is used in Portuguese. "Narguilé" is also used in French, along with "chicha".

In Eastern Europe: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, nagile or nagila is used to refer to the pipe, while šiša (шиша) refers to شیشه (šiše) meaning glass bottle in Persian. In Albania, the hookah is called "lula" or "lulava". In Romania, it is called narghilea.

In Africa, the Hookah is called a "shisha". Today, the Hookah stirs controversy in some parts of the African continent. In Kenya (east Africa). In 2017 Hookahs were officially banned by Kenya's health ministry. Despite being banned, many clubs still continue to defy the law and hookah smoking goes on in urban areas. 

While not far away in South Africa, the hookah, is called a "hubbly bubbly" or an "okka pipe". While the hubby bubbly is not illegal in south Africa, the government also implements strong campaigns to warn of health risks. This is due to the increasing use among young people.

Source information for this article can be found on Wikipedia & the African Times