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From Hindi पर्दा (pardā), Urdu پردہ (parda), from Persian پرده (parda, curtain).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpəːdɑː/, /ˈpəːdə/


purdah (plural purdahs)

  1. A curtain, especially as used to conceal and divide women from men and strangers in some Hindu or Muslim traditions.
    • 1888, Rudyard Kipling, ‘A Wayside Comedy’, Under the Deodars, Folio Society 2005, p. 34:
      As she passed through the dining-room, she heard, behind the purdah that cloaked the drawing-room door, her husband's voice [...].
  2. (rare) A striped cotton cloth which is used to make curtains.
  3. A long veil, or other all-enveloping clothing, worn by women in some Muslim societies.
  4. The state or system of social gender seclusion in some Muslim or Hindu communities.
  5. (Britain politics) The time between the announcement and holding of an election, during which any governmental activities that may be construed as potentially benefiting or promoting a specific political party or prospective candidate are halted or suspended.
  6. (Britain politics) The period after plans have been prepared but before the Chancellor of the Exchequer's annual budget is announced, when he refrains from discussing any matters which have relevance to the forthcoming budget.