Pronounced: kuhn-TUHND, verb
Notes: This is another case of a word that I didn’t have any idea of the meaning, but after looking at the definition, I should have been able to figure it out.
The word pukka means “geniune, authentic; also first-class”
Background / Comments
If this word evokes mental pictures of English rule in India, you are not wrong. The word pukka comes from Hindi and Urdu pakkā (solid). English speakers applied the concept of “sound and reliable” of solid and thus the word mean “genuine”. I first heard the word in the phrase pukka sahib (sahib is an Anglo-Indian word for a European of some social or official status). Thus the expression pukka sahib is a compliment – the person is a true gentleman. I read that pukka is modern British slang for “excellent”. In Murder on the Orient Express, there is a funny exchange between Poirot and the Greek Doctor Constantine:
Colonel Arbuthnot says, of a fellow passenger: “You can take it from me that she’s all right. She’s a pukka sahib.” After he left, Doctor Constantine asked Poirot, “What does a pukka sahib mean?” Poirot’s response is “It means that her father and brothers went to the same kind of school as Colonel Arburthnot.” The Doctor responds, “Oh, then it has nothing to do with the crime at all”. “Exactly”, says Poirot.
This word was first used in the late mid-1700s.