from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A fan used especially in India, made of a palm frond or strip of cloth hung from the ceiling and moved by a servant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Alternative spelling of punkah.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A machine for fanning a room, usually a movable fanlike frame covered with canvas, and suspended from the ceiling. It is kept in motion by pulling a cord.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In the East Indies, a fan of any kind; specifically, a swinging screen consisting of cloth stretched on a rectangular frame, hung from the ceiling and kept in motion by a servant, or in some cases by machinery, by means of which the air of an apartment is agitated.


Hindi paṅkhá, from Sanskrit pakṣakaḥ, fan, from pakṣaḥ, wing.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



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  • "She noticed Riggs peering over his shoulder at the bar. 'What's the matter, Colonel? Looking for your punka-wallah? I'm not going to get you a drink, if that's what you're after. I think you men only come up here to booze.'"
    The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard, p 39 of the 50th anniversary edition

    September 3, 2012

  • Citation on chirr.

    August 26, 2008