Know the Etymology: 13
Place Name of the Day: Friday, 24 March 2017

Katira-veḷi, Kucca-veḷi, Āṭ-kāṭṭi-veḷi, Veḷi-vayal

கதிரவெளி, குச்சவெளி, ஆட்காட்டிவெளி, வெளிவயல்
Katira-veḷi, Kucca-veḷi, Āṭ-kāṭṭi-veḷi, Veḷi-vayal


The open land of acacia

The open land of Kucca grass

The open land of Āṭ-kāṭṭi birds; or the open land having signposts; or the open land showing people at a distance

The outside paddy field; or the paddy field of the open land

Veḷi outside, open space, plain, space, intervening space, gap, room, openness, plainness, publicity, (Tamil, DED 5498); (verb) to be open or public, be vacant, be empty (Tamil, DED 5498); cognates in Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Parji, Gadba, Konda, Kui and Kuwi (DED 5498); also related to another verb, Veḷi: (verb) to break as the day, to become bright (Tamil, DED 5496a); Veḷiccam: light (Tamil, DED 5496); and also related to Veṭi/ Viṭi: to dawn, break as day (Tamil, DED 5475, note the Ḷ/ Ṭ interchange); Veṭṭam: light (Tamil, DED 5475); Veṭṭa-veḷi: open plain (Tamil, DED 5475); Veṭṭai, Veṭṭi, Veṭṭuvāṉ: open land (Eezham Tamil). Nel-veḷi: a place name, meaning an open tract of paddy fields, noticed in Tamil Brahmi inscriptions (ETE 7). See column 240 on Eḷiya in Sinhala
Katiram a shrub or small tree known for its long thorns, Karu-vēl or Uṭai are the common names in Tamil, Acacia catechu or Mimosa catechu (Eezham Tamil place names); a gum-yielding tree (Tamil, Kathiraiverpillai, Acacia produces gum); arrow (Tamil, Piṅkalam, 6: 438); a tree, Karuṅkāli (Tamil, Tivākaram, 4: 25); Karuṅkāli is a term for trees having dark stem such as ebony, but Kariṅṅāli in Malayalam means Mimosa catechu or Acacia catechu (DED 1282); Katirai: Mimosa triquetra, "Vaṟaṭ-cuṇṭi" (Tamil, Kathiraiverpillai); Khadira: Acacia catechu (Sanskrit, Pali, CDIAL 3805); = "Kihirigasa," Acacia catechu (Sinhala, Sorata); Kadira: 1. "Kihirigasa," Acacia catechu (Sinhala, Sorata); 2. God Murukaṉ, "Kańdakumarā" (Sinhala, Sorata, note the Tamil cognates Katir-vēlaṉ and Katiraṉ, coming from the spear of the deity; also note the place names Katir-kāmam, Katira-malai and Katara-gama); Katir 1: (verb) to be sharp; (noun) awl (Tamil, MTL Appendix); Katimai: sharpness (Tamil, MTL Appendix, Jaffna Dictionary cited); Katir 2: ray of light, spike of any cereal, spinner's spindle, spoke of a wheel (Tamil, DED 1193, 1194, 1195, Akanāṉūṟu, 224: 14; 246: 2)
Kucca adjective of 1. Kuccam: a large and coarse grass called Nāṇal (Tamil, MTL); 2. Kuccup-pul, Kuccip-pul: cluster grass, Cynosurus indicus (Tamil, MTL); Kuśa: the grass Poa cynosuroids (Sanskrit, CDIAL, 3363); Guccha: bunch of flowers (Sanskrit, traced to Dravidian, CDIAL 4172); Kūrca: bundle of grass (Sanskrit, traced to Dravidian, CDIAL 3408); Kuccu: cluster, tuft, tassel (Tamil, DED 1639); Kuñcam: cluster of grass (Tamil, DED 1639); 3. Kuccu: hut, shed made of palm leaves (Tamil, MTL)
Āṭkāṭṭi Āḷ-kāṭṭi: 1. a bird that screeches at the sight of people, Red-wattled Lapwing, Sarcogrammus indicus (Tamil, MTL); 2. signpost showing the way (Tamil, MTL); 3. one that shows or points to people (Tamil); Āl: mān, person (Tamil, DED 399); Kāṭṭu: (verb) to show; (noun) showing 8Tamil, DED 1443); from Kāṇ: to see (Tamil, DED 1443)
Vayal paddy field (Tamil, DED 5258). See column 273

Veḷi is a common word in Tamil meaning an open land or plain in toponymic context. It also means an outside place when used as an adjective. As a verb Veḷi means to be open or be vacant.

The usage of Veḷi as a place name suffix, meaning an open stretch of land, could be seen in Tamil Brahmi inscriptions (ETE 7).

The word and meanings listed as Dravidian (DED 5498) corresponds to the same word meaning to break as the day (DED 5496) and to another Tamil verb Veṭi/ Viṭi, meaning the same (DED 5475). From the latter comes Veṭṭai and Veṭṭa-veḷi, meaning an open land. All the words point to the connections between light and open space.

The Tamil words and usages have a parallel Eḷi/ Eḷiya in Sinhala, though the etymon of this Sinhala word correspond to another Tamil/ Dravidian etymon, El meaning sun and light (DED 829). See column 240.

* * *

The prefix Katira in the place name Katira-veḷi seems to be meaning a species of acacia, looking at the geographical context of the place and other toponymic examples in Tamil and Sinhala (see related place names).

Old Tamil lexicons equate Katiram to Karuṅkāli, which generally means ebony, but in some usages it also means Acacia. Note that in Malayalam Kariṅṅāli means Mimosa catechu (DED 1282): Khadira is Sanskrit and Kadira in Sinhala are terms for the thorny shrub or tree, Acacia catechu or Mimosa catechu. The terms probably have come from the conspicuous thorns of the species and note that another meaning for Katiram is arrow, related to Katir meaning ray, spike etc. in Tamil/ Dravidian (DED 1194, 1193).

The prefix Kucca, as in Kucca-veḷi, has no other toponymic examples to compare, but it is very likely that the term means a kind of grass. Kuccam in Tamil means a large and coarse grass botanically identified as Saccharum spontaneum. In another possibility, Kucca may be related to Kuccup-pul, the cluster grass, Cynosurus indicus. The terms come from Kuñcam and Kuccu meaning cluster, tuft and cluster of grass in Tamil/ Dravidian (DED, 1639). Related terms, Guccha and Kūrca in Sanskrit, are traced to Dravidian (CDIAL 3408, 4172).

Āṭ-kāṭṭi literally means, one that points to a person or one that points out to a person. In usage, the phrase means a bird that screeches at the sight of people. The word also means signposts showing the way. The place Āṭ-kāṭṭi-veḷi is an extensive tract of open land. It has to be passed through in travelling between Jaffna and Mannar.

Note the possibility of Veḷi meaning outside in Veḷi-vayal and in similar place names listed below, in which Veḷi is used as an adjective.

* * *

Katiraveḷi is in Kōraḷaippattu North division of Batticaloa district, bordering the Trincomalee district.

Kucca-veḷi is headquarters of a division by its name in Trincomalee district.

Āṭkāṭṭi-veḷi or Āḷ-kāṭṭi-veḷi is a place in Manthai West division of Mannar district.

Veḷi-vayal is in Puthukkudiyiruppu division of Mullaiththeevu district

* * *

Some related place names:


Vallai-veḷi: Vadamaratchi, Jaffna. Vallai: forest

Kaccār-veḷi: Pachchilaippalli, Kilinochchi. Kaccār and Mācār are adjacent villages in Paccilaippaḷḷi

Veḷik-kaṇṭal: Kandavalai, Kilinochchi. Kaṇṭal: marsh, flood plain

Poṉṉā-veḷi: Poonakari, Kilinochchi

Mucala-toṭa-veḷi: This is a fishing camp in Paḷḷik-kutā, Kilinochchi. Mucal: screw pines; Toṭa: port

Vaṇṇakkaṉ-veḷi: a locality in Paḷḷik-kuṭā, Poonakari, Kilinochchi (One Inch Sheet)

Tōṭṭa-veḷi: Mannar, Mannar

Muḷḷi-veḷi: Nanaddan, Mannar. Muḷḷi: a thorny plant

Paṇṭāra-veḷi: Musali, Mannar. Paṇṭāram: meaning government, public or large in this context

Aṟuku-veḷi: Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaiththeevu. Aṟuku: a grass

Marutaṭi-veḷi: Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaiththeevu. Marutu: a tree

Māvilaṅkaṉ-veḷi: Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaiththeevu. Māvilaṅkai: a tree

Nañcuṇṭāṉ-veḷi: Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaiththeevu. Nañcuṇṭai: a tree, the seeds of which are of narcotic content, but used in native medicine, Compound corymbed, Yellow-flowered resin seed, Pittospermum floribundum (Tamil, Malayalam)

Nāvalaṭi-veḷi: Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaiththeevu. Nāval: a tree

Pāṇṭiyaṉ-veḷi: Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaiththevu. Pāṇṭiyaṉ: related to Pandya country or dynasty

Uṭaiyā-veḷi: Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaiththeevu. Uṭai: Acacia; or from Uṭaiyār: a lord; note the place name Uṭaiyāvūr in Vanni

Valañciyaṉ-veḷi: Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaiththeevu. Valañciyar: a mercantile guild that had its own military

Akkarai-veḷi: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu. Akkarai: the other side

Kariyal-veḷi: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu. Kariyal: dark-soiled, unproductive, fallow

Paḷḷa-veḷi: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu. Paḷḷam: low land

Periya-veḷi: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu. Periya: big, large

Cakaḷattu-veḷi: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu. Cakaḷai: mud

Ulattu-veḷi: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu: Ulattu: to dry (as to dry fish etc.)

Uppumā-veḷi: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu. Note the pond name Uppumā-villu in Poṉṉā-veḷi, Kilinochchi

Veḷik-kuṭiyiruppu: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu

Veḷik-kuḷam: Vavuniya, Vaviniya

Kusavaṉ-veḷi: Puthukkudiyiruppu division, Mullaiththeevu district. Kucavaṉ: also Kuyavaṉ: potter (Tamil, DED 1762, Naṟṟiṇai, 200: 4); Kuyam: potter caste, hamlet of potters (Tamil, DED 1762, Puṟanāṉūṟu, 348: 3); Kō: potter (Tamil, Caṅkam diction, DED 1762, Puṟanāṉūṟu 256: 1); cognates in 6 Dravidian languages

Nāvitaṉ-veli: Vellaveli, Batticaloa. Nāvitaṉ: barber (Tamil, Peruṅkatai, 62: 178; inscription, 765 CE, EI, xxxvi, 20); Nāvicar: barbers (Tamil, inscription, 978 CE, SII, iii, 151); Nāvicam: the profession of barbers (Tamil, inscription, 1014 CE, SII, ii, 66); Nāpita: barber (Sanskrit, CDIAL, 13792); Nahāpita: barber (Pali, CDIAL 13792); Snāpaka: bath attendant (Sanskrit, CDIAL 13792); Nāvisa: barber (Sinhala, Sorata); Nācuvaṉ, Nācivaṉ: barber (Eezham Tamil place names, as in Nācuvaṉ-kuḷam, Nācivaṉ-tīvu)

Vellā-veḷi: Vellaveli, Batticaloa. See Vallai-veḷi

Ammāntaṉ-veḷi: Vaakarai, Batticaloa. Ammāntaṉ: probably a herb, shrub or tree; Ammāṉ-paccarici (Pālāvip pūṇṭu, Euphobia hirta), Amantam (a tree, Kathiraiver Pillai) or Amantalam (Ceṅ-kattari shrub, orbicular leaved caper shrub, MTL).

Kōra-veḷi: Valaichchenai, Batticaloa. Kōrai: a grass

Pērillā-veḷi: Valaichchenai, Batticaloa. Perillā: nameless

canti-veḷi: Valaichchenai, Batticaloa. Canti: junction

Tāṇṭavaṉ-veḷi: Pattippalai, Batticaloa. Tāṇṭavaṉ: a personal name

Paṇṭāriyā-veḷi: Pattippalai, Batticaloa. Paṇṭāriyā: a community of mendicants

Āṉai-kaṭṭiya-veḷi: Vellaveli, Batticaloa. Āṉai-kaṭṭiya: where the elephants were tied

Kaḷumuntaṉ-veḷi: Vellaveli, Batticaloa. Kaḷumuntaṉ: probably a spirit

Nilā-veḷi: Kuchchaveli, Trincomalee. Nilā: probably, 1. indigo plant (from Nīla, Nīli; Tamil and Sinhala); 2. official position, stipulated work, duty (Nila: Sinhala; Nilai: Tamil, DED ); 3. guard post, stopping place (Nila: Sinhala; Nilai: Tamil, DED 3675); 4: village, place (Nila: Sinhala, Nilam: Tamil, DED 3676)

Peru-veḷi: Moothoor, Trincomalee. Peru: big, large

Māṉaya-veḷi: Trincomalee Town and Gravets, Trincomalee. Māṉiyam, Mānyam: grant of revenue of a land (Tamil, MTL, inscription, 1301 CE, EC, ix, Nl, 38);

Uppu-veḷi: Trincomalee Town and Gravets, Trincomalee. Uppu: salt

Paṟavai-veḷi: Musali division, Mannar district. Paṟavai: bird in general

* * *

Katiram: (Tamil)

Katira-malai: Tamil name of the hill at Katirkāmam; Moneragala district; a locality in Cuṇṇākam, Jaffna district; name of an ancient capital in Jaffna (Yāḻpāṇa Vaipava Mālai). See box for Katiraṉ in Tamil and Kadira in Sinhala meaning God Murukaṉ

Katira-villu: a place near Muḻaṅkāvil, Poonakari, Kilinochchi (K. Almanac; Tunukkai OIS)

Katira-vil-kuḷam: Poonakari, Kilinochchi

Katirip-pāy: Valikamam East, Jaffna

Katiraṅ-kuḷam: Omantai, Vavuṉiyā (Vavuniya OIS); Ampakāmam, Mullaiththeevu (Iranaimadu OIS)

Katira-mara-ciṉṉak-kuḷam: Marukkārampaḻai (Vavuniya OIS)

* * *

Kadira: (Sinhala)

Kadirāna: Katana, Gampaha

Kadira-gonna: Balapitiya, Galle

Kadiran-doḷa: Elpitiya, Galle

Kadira-goḍa: Tangalle, Hambantota

Kadira-pola: Pannala, Kurunegala

Kadirā-pura: Dehiattakandiya, Ampara

* * *

Acacia nilotica
Acacia nilotica (Veal / Kathiram) [Photo: V.V. Sivan]
Acacia catechu (Veal / Kathiram)
Acacia catechu (Veal / Kathiram)
Acacia karoo
Acacia karoo (similar to Udai)
Acacia nilotica (Veal / Kathiram)
Acacia nilotica (Veal / Kathiram)

* * *

Revised: Saturday, 24 March 2017, 20:43

First published: Monday, 25 June 2007, 01:00

Previous columns:


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