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Sri Lankan English - Updates C

This page contains updates to the dictionary beginning with the letter C. It is divided into 2 parts: New Entries, and Comments and Corrections. Click here to return to the main updates page, or on the links on the left side of the page to go to another letter.

These pages are updated regularly; please contact me if you have any suggestions or feedback which can be included.

Latest update: December 2014. New additions are in red.


Calicut tiles: flat roof tiles (Calicut is the former name of Kozhikode in Kerala, South India) (> Sinhala ulu)
Before the Tsunami they had lived in a cement-walled, Calicut-tile-roofed house with a living room, two bedrooms, … (The Banana Tree Crisis, by Isankya Kodithuwakku, page 130)
The roof timber needs to be replaced as well as the Calicut tiles, which have a life span of a hundred years. (Sunday Times 24/01/99)
Copra was the main export product from all the large coconut estates, copra was taken chiefly to South India, and in return Calicut tiles were the main products brought back. (Daily News 29/08/05)
The roof uses Calicut tiles to allow hot air to rise and circulate to bring in cool air; … (Sunday Times 13/07/14)

call: to call somebody to their home: to phone somebody at home
Try calling him to his home.

cane chair: a chair made of cane (less common in BSE)
They sit on the cane chairs by the window. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 60)
There, he sat down on the cane chair and began reading … (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 45)
… I take a cane chair and set it down under a margosa tree at the corner of the garden. (Arathi, by Nihal de Silva, page 178)
Kiran slumped into a ratty cane chair in the corner … (Strange Fruit, by Afdhel Aziz, page 194)

can manage: (coll.) OK, I can manage (also as a question: can manage?)

car porch (= porch): car port, covered area for parking a car (also Singapore, less common in BSE)
It has a medium sized cemented front garden area with a double car porch. (

carrom ball: (in cricket) a spin-bowling delivery (SAE)
It pitches wide off leg, like a misplaced carrom ball, cuts onto off stump, then darts back into the stumps. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page
Sri Lankan bowler, Ajantha Mendis may have been mesmerising the Australian batsmen in the current series with his Carrom Ball delivery, but the so called delivery is not this bowler's monopoly, claims former Pakistan wicketkeeper, Rashid Latif. …
The ball is held between the thumb, forefinger and the middle finger and, instead of a conventional release, the ball is squeezed out and flicked by the fingers like a Carrom player flicking the disc on a Carrom board. (Daily Mirror 13/08/11)
Australia spinner Nathan Lyon is coy about the new delivery he has been refining with Muttiah Muralitharan and hopes to unleash on Pakistan in October’s test series, describing it only as an “Australian” carrom ball. …
Local media have speculated that Murali’s appointment would include teaching Lyon how to bowl the carrom, a ball that also turns the other way but with spin imparted by the flicking of the middle finger rather than the wristy action of the doosra. (Daily Mirror 20/06/14)

carrom board: a square board used for playing carrom
Jonny watches me powder his varnished carrom board. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 243)
There you will find a cute little outdoor space with tables, chairs and a carrom board. (Playing Pillow Politics at MGK, by Lal Medawattegedara, page 86)
The defending champions Sri Lanka will look to continue their dominance on the carrom board. (Nation 28/10/12)

carromite (= slicer): carrom player
Over one hundred carromites from sixteen countries will slice their way at the 4th world carrom championships hosted by the carrom federation of Sri Lanka to be staged in Colombo from October 5 to 9. (Sunday Observer 29/08/04)
Sri Lankan carromite Chamil Cooray came up with a superlative performance in the singles to beat world champion from India Yogesh Pardesi. (Daily Mirror 18/07/12)

carrom men (= dogs): carrom pieces
Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage is preparing carrom men at the inauguration of the 6th World Carrom Championship at Galadari Hotel in Colombo yesterday … (Island 31/10/12)

car wash: a fund-raising event where a group of people stop cars on the side of the road and offer to wash them
They’re organising a car wash on Havelock Road.
(Click here to see a photograph)

cash plucking: plucking tea outside working hours for extra pay
A cash plucking system, task work system and double name per day system achieve targets. (Sunday Observer 24/07/11)

cast: to cast a horoscope: to draw up a person’s horoscope
She had had him cast horoscopes for all the children – “Did he cast one for you, too?” … “I said very firmly that I didn’t want one cast for me, …” (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 507)

He had horoscopes to cast, a family to feed and a wife to satisfy. (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 68)
“You did not permit me to let him cast the children’s horoscopes.” (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 317)

Before she left for England she’d heard that Renu’s horoscope was being recast. (A Little Dust on the Eyes, by Minoli Salgado, page 91)

caste: a traditional South Asian system of social hierarchy historically associated with particular occupations (SAE, esp. India and Sri Lanka) (> Ahikuntika, berava, durava, govigama, karaiyar, karava, nalavar, paraiyar, radala, Rodi, salagama, vellala)
In 19th-century Sri Lanka, the most prestigious caste among the Sinhalese – the goyigama – was not only the largest caste group, but also formed a majority of the low-country Sinhala population. … Four castes of the Low-country (goyigama, karava, salagama and durava) had a combined total of 83.1% of this population, and seven castes accounted for 93% of the low-country population. … While in Sinhala society caste hierarchies were becoming fluid, the Jaffna Tamil caste system remained more rigid and very hierarchical. … Jaffna society was dominated by the vellala caste, which, like the Sinhala goyigama, formed half the population. … Like the Sinhala caste system, the Jaffna Tamil system had an ‘inverted pyramidal structure’ with the vellalas dominating. … Caste became a source of conflict, especially when non-vellalas ignored the old caste restrictions, not only on eating and seating, but also on forms of dress, temple entry and political participation. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 164-5)

casual leave: a single day’s holiday from work, not necessarily pre-arranged, as opposed to annual leave, which is normally taken in a single block planned in advance (> lieu leave, short leave)
“I’ve used up my annual leave, my sick leave, my casual leave.” (Serendipity, by Ashok Ferrey, page 159)

cat: (v) (coll.) vomit, throw up
All those smells, the blaring radio, the jerking motion. I nearly catted … (The Moon in the Water, by Ameena Hussein, page 74)

catty (= manna): (dated) a large curved knife (from Tamil kaththi)
The Secretary General of Jathika Bala Sena, Mahiyanganaya PS member Ven. Wataraka Vijitha thero has brought a catty to the meeting. He has stated that it was by mistake and the police has taken it to their custody. The thero said “after the surgery, I walk with difficulty. I took a pole which was near the door and I didn’t notice it as a catty.” ( 27/08/14)
… Mammoties, Slashers, Catty knives, … (Wennappuwa Pradeshiya Sabha Registration of Suppliers and Contractors for the Year 2014, 28/10/13)

cent: one hundredth of a Sri Lankan rupee
> The Indian rupee is divided into 100 paise.

Ceylonese: (dated) Sri Lankan
They were Dutch burghers, the products of various intermarriages between the Ceylonese and the Dutch invaders, … (July, by Karen Roberts, page 12)
The tale didn’t go down quite so well with the locals: most of Rowland’s Ceylonese listeners smiled to themselves, and discreetly refrained from comment. (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 25)

But she must have known that I was that good little Ceylonese girl, trained to obey, … (The Good Little Ceylonese Girl, by Ashok Ferrey, page 94)

In fact, she would have been perfectly happy to forget the Ceylonese part of her heritage altogether … (The Lament of the Dhobi Woman, by Karen Roberts, page 35)
Many Ceylonese aspired to marry British women … (The Lament of the Dhobi Woman, by Karen Roberts, page 36)
They are larger, more diverse and more excitable than us Ceylonese, ... (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 320)

Ceylon Tamil (= Sri Lankan Tamil): (dated) a member of the Tamil community originally from the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, as opposed to the upcountry Tamil community (also called estate Tamils or Indian Tamils)
S.J. Chelvanayakam was one of the most prominent leaders of the Ceylon Tamils before and after the end of colonial rule, and in the early days of their struggle for political and economic equality. The author, who knew Chelvanayakam intimately, analyzes in this work his career and his symbiotic relationship with the Ceylon Tamils, which led eventually to the emergence and reinforcing of a defensive Ceylon Tamil nationalism. (

chakgudu (= gudu): a traditional game played with sticks (Sinhala)
The games of the Avurudu season are some of the most enjoyable to both the young and the not-so-young and at Keells resort hotels, all guests will get the opportunity to take part in the fun! Pillow fighting, tug o’ war, chakgudu and kana mutti are just some of the games planned for the new year weekend, along with the ever-popular ‘Avurudu Kumari’ pageant that is sure to be a highlight of the celebrations. (Sunday Times 05/04/09)

chank (shell): conch shell (Tubinella pyrum) (from Sanskrit shankha)
… perforated chank shells, a jumble of tortoieseshell and silver hair combs: … (The Hamilton Case, by Michelle de Kretser, page 16)

Sources of revenue also included cinnamon rejected by the East India Company and sold to other merchants, chank shells, chaya roots (for dyes), … (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 8)
Sad predicament of the chank shells
The large-scale collection of chanks for the export trade has been going on in the coastal seas of the Hambantota District since 1997. Although only the shell is used as an export item, it has been a threat to the species due to the collection of live shells. These large shells, shaped like a flower-bud, are known in Sinhala as Hak-Bella. They have been associated with cultural and religious events of Buddhists and Hindus in Sri Lanka since ancient times. A chank shell with a hole cut in the wicker end is blown as a trumpet at various religious ceremonies. There are some who believe that keeping of one or more chank shells in a house brings good luck and fortune to the occupants. (The Island 08/01/03)

chapter: a community of Buddhist monks
Asgiriya Chapter Puts BBS On Notice (Sunday Leader 10/03/13)
President felicitates Mahanayake Thera of Malwatte Chapter (Daily News 30/05/14)

chief monk (= chief incumbent, Viharadhipathi): the head monk at a Buddhist temple or viharaya
… she had gone to temple at noon … because she wanted to make puja before the chief monk took his nap. (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 163)
The young monks slipped bits of food into the water, with the chief monk looking indulgently away … (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 52)

chikungunya: a viral disease somewhat like dengue, carried by mosquitoes (originated in Africa, but now common in South and Southeast Asia; from Makonde, an East African language)
Chikungunya is spreading fast in the Central Province with a higher numbers of patients reported from Akurana in Kandy. (Sunday Times 17/12/06)

chimney lamp: a kerosene lamp with a glass cover (chimney)
… Piyaseeli Akka brought out the chimney lamp and placed it on the centre teapoy ... (Eternally Yours, by Sybil Wettasinghe, page 44)
Mother was waiting, with only the chimney lamp alight. (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 110)

chusfy (= kusukusufy): (coll.) to whisper in a subversive way
But I didn’t want to deal with relatives or them casting remarks or those chusfying whispers and ‘in vain’ kind of looks behind my back. (The Moon in the Water, by Ameena Hussein, page 73)

Cinnamon Gardens (= Colombo 7): upmarket residential area of Colombo
… the big mansions and the solidly built houses of the prosperous Tamil families in Cinnamon Gardens. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 317)
"This is the Cinnamon Gardens Police OIC." (A Cause Untrue, by David Blacker, page 378)
…all those esoteric village dishes they were not likely to taste in other grand Cinnamon Gardens households. (The Good Little Ceylonese Girl, by Ashok Ferrey, page 191)
There were plenty of apartment blocks springing up all over Cinnamon Gardens that they could move to. (Serendipity, by Ashok Ferrey, page 143)

cinnamon peeler: a person who prepares cinnamon; also the name of a caste (Salagama)
Jinadasa walked along the rutted road to his home in the cinnamon plantation. His father, the cinnamon peeler, waited for him. (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 62)
They now lived in whitewashed houses on the boundary of their land, close to the groves where cinnamon peelers stacked their crops. (A Little Dust on the Eyes, by Minoli Salgado, page 122)
Sri Lanka moves to overcome cinnamon peeler shortage (Lanka Business Online 26/10/12)

coat and tie: jacket and tie
… the men dressed up in their Sunday best, coat and tie; … (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 139)

Eventually De Moraes removed his coat and tie and collar, ... (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 270)
Anyway, a handsome young man nattily dressed in trousers, shirt, coat and tie arrived, … (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 25)

coconut flower: the flower of the coconut tree, used as a decoration
(Click here to see a photograph)

After the wedding ceremony, in the walauwa bedroom that had been made the bride’s dressing chamber with profuse jasmine and strung coconut flowers and lit lamps and uneaten, ant-attacked sweets, ... (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 90)
The bride is escorted on to the raised dais decorated with jasmines and coconut flowers and little oil lamps … (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 50)

coconut husker: a person whose job is to dehusk coconuts
Coconut huskers stage protest (newspaper headline)
A coconut husker with a penchant for ripping mini skirts of teenage school girls with a razor blade, was arrested yesterday while ripping the skirt of a school girl returning from a tuition class in the Kuliyapitiya town, police said. ( 11/09/04)

coconut shell (= polkatu): the shell of a coconut
… coconut husks and coconut shells which fed the flames … (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 268)
On the trees, at almost exactly the same height, strips of bark were cut away to allow the raw, white latex to course down the tiny channels and into the coconut shells which were tied to each tree. (The Lament of the Dhobi Woman, by Karen Roberts, page 70)
The evening arrived under moonlight and the light of lamps improvised out of dry coconut shells. (Unplugged Quarter, by Vihanga Perera, page 47)
She thought of food cooked on the open fire in her grandparents’ kitchen, she sniffed the air, her eyes closed, as if coconut shells were burning in the sunshine outside the back door. (Homesick, by Roshi Fernando, page 48)
There were a few coconut shells and yoghurt cups strewn about, … (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 107)

… pretty boys dresed as women with heavily painted faces and breasts that jutted out a mile, buttressed with coconut shells. (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 35)

coconut shell spoon (= polkatu handa): a spoon made from a coconut shell and used for cooking like a wooden spoon
…coconut shell spoons suspended from the spoon rack – one for the rice pot, the other for the milk, others for meat, fish and vegetables. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 268)
My fingers felt as if they had held these pots before, and had once traced the fine veins on the smooth coconut shell spoons. (The Lament of the Dhobi Woman, by Karen Roberts, page 67)

coconut toffee (= pol toffee, pol dosi, coconut rock): a type of sweet made with coconut and condensed milk
Aggala, Coconut toffee and other favourite sweetmeats can now be easily prepared requiring only milk as an additional ingredient. (Island 15/08/14)

coconut water: the liquid inside a coconut (often wrongly called ‘coconut milk’ in BSE)
The stone appeared to breathe through its pores as the statue was bathed with turmeric and coconut water, sandalwood, kumkumum, fruit juices. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 262)

There came a stir at the back of the crowd and a draught of coconut water was passed forward. (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 65)
We drink sweet, fresh coconut water, cool as well water. (Island of a Thousand Mirrors, by Nayomi Munaweera, page 69)
In the presence of the assembly he has to split the coconut into two perfect halves … for the two halves to stand upright with the coconut water intact in each! (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 50)

conductor: the manager of an estate
Early the next morning, Uncle Rick received a telephone call from the conductor of his Kurunegala estate. (The Lament of the Dhobi Woman, by Karen Roberts, page 218)

conner: (coll.) liar
“Bloody ace conner,” says Ari. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 137)

cooling glasses: sunglasses (also India etc.)
She is in her early twenties and has participated in several confrontations and has lost one of her eyes. She wears a pair of cooling glasses. ( 06/10/04)
Dont forget your cap, cooling glasses. (comment on 07/05/12)

cowpea: black-eyed pea (Vigna unguiculata), a type of pulse (also Africa, US, etc.)
Ban on imports of soya, green gram, cowpea in the offing (Daily News 31/03/09)

CR book: an A4-size lined exercise book
That last chapter was written in bed by hand on this CR book where I used to record Colombo Municipality rates. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 414)

cross cousin: a cousin who is the child of your paternal aunt (nenda) or your maternal uncle (maama) (> parallel cousin)
> See A-Z of Sri Lankan English: C is for cousin brother
Two cross-cousin marriages between these Christian families also took place. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 366)

cut: to cut somebody (off): to treat somebody badly, to discriminate against somebody
> This is in addition to the meanings given under cut (4) in the dictionary: to put somebody in their place, cut somebody down to size, give somebody a hard time.

cut-out: a large-scale image of a politician used for election campaigns (also India)
Cut-outs cut out: UNP Moratuwa Organizer Srinath Perera yesterday charged that an HQI attached to the Mount Lavinia police had destroyed his cut-outs which were on display at the Soysapura Flats in Moratuwa on Sunday. He alleged this HQI had come in a police vehicle and smashed the cut-outs. Mr Perera charged the cut-outs erected by the UPFA politicos in the area remained intact while only opposition cut-outs were removed. (Daily Mirror 31/12/08)
On one side of the arch was a cut-out of a roaring tiger. (Distant Warriors, by Channa Wickremesekera, page 189)
…a larger than life cut out of the Finance Minister stands for three months near the central bus stop. (Their Autopsy, by Vihanga Perera, page 102)
There were huge cut-outs of politicians along the route, oversize in their magnificence, advertising the forthcoming elections. (Serendipity, by Ashok Ferrey, page 37)


candlestand: DELETE (common in other varieties of English)

: DELETE (common in other varieties of English)

card pack
: DELETE (common in other varieties of English)

: DELETE (non-standard SLE and now dated)

cat wash
: DELETE (also found in other varieties of English)

: DELETE (brand name - use as generic term was short-lived)

chappals: DELETE (common in Indian English but not in SLE)

choli: DELETE (common in Indian English but not in SLE)

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