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Sri Lankan English - Updates U

This page contains updates to the dictionary beginning with the letter U. 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: August 2016. New additions are in red.


u’grad: (in newspaper headlines) undergraduate (> grad)
U’grads to protest in Colombo (Ceylon Today 21/10/14)

unknown: (of people and places) unfamiliar
> In BSE, 'unknown' means not famous, not well known (with reference to people).
They began to drive crazily through unknown streets. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 241)
My brother had died guarding some unknown road that went to some unheard place. (Sam’s Story, by Elmo Jayawardena, page 117)

… until a very kind unknown lady got up from her table, … (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 408)
The few benches at the back full of unknown jobless gossips. (Learning to Fly, by Shehani Gomes, page 122)
Among those present, my mother had noticed a group of unknown women, some of them ancient. (The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai, page 44)
“Better the known devil than the unknown devil, Thaththa.” (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 236)

If some unknown person walked by on the road below, … (On Sal Mal Lane, by Ru Freeman, page 107)
And rumor had it … that unknown people in that neighbourhood had caught him and beaten him up … (On Sal Mal Lane, by Ru Freeman, page 264)

unroasted curry powder (= raw curry powder): curry powder normally used in vegetable dishes, dhal, etc. (> roasted curry powder)
Wash the Dhal well and add sufficient water. Then add unroasted curry powder and turmeric powder and cook well. (

unspool: (of a film or teledrama) be shown, be screened (also US)
Daily News 'Projector' takes a glance at six of the major productions that will unspool next year. (Daily News 28/12/09)
A series of blockbuster movies are being lined up to unspool at Majestic Cineplex, Bambalapitiya … ( 13/06/12)
‘One Way’ to unspool on ITN from Sunday (Daily Mirror 10/08/15)

upcountry Tamil: a member of the Sri Lankan Tamil community brought from South India to Sri Lanka by the British in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to work on the tea estates (> Jaffna Tamil)
> Upcountry Tamils are also referred to as estate Tamils, plantation Tamils, hill country Tamils, Indian Tamils, or Tamils of Indian Origin, in order to distinguish them from the larger Tamil community concentrated mainly in the North and East of the country. The latter are often referred to as Sri Lankan Tamils.
It’s true that if Velu had been arrested for the murder, the official line on upcountry Tamils would have hardened. (The Hamilton Case, by Michelle de Kretser, page 292)

Re-reading Lankan History through the case of the Up-country Tamils and the Principles of Natural Law (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 32)

updation: update (also India)
This includes updation and computerizing databases of rates, taxes and licenses, developing the financial accounting and asset management systems. (NPPD website 04/05/12)
Note: This is subject to bill updation (Dialog website)
The Labour Department will then forward it to the EPF department for record updation. (Central Bank EPF website)

uplift: (1) (v) develop (e.g. an area), improve, upgrade (living conditions, etc.), raise (standards); (n) development, improvement, advancement
plans to uplift the rural poor
> In BSE, to uplift means to raise someone’s spirits. It is normally used in the passive (‘We felt uplifted by his words’) or in phrases like ‘an uplifting sermon’.

Kantharuban was … the family’s main hope of social upliftment. (The Broken Palmyrah, by Rajan Hoole et al, page 242)
Sporting public commend President Rajapaksa for uplifting standards (Sunday Observer 15/11/09)
Tourism industry diversified for rural uplift (Daily News 03/03/10)
More projects to uplift Kilinochchi: The Government has taken action to launch new projects to uplift the livelihoods of the people in Kilinochchi as part of the North Development Programme. (Ministry of Defence website 17/06/10)

… whether the Leader of the Unofficial Bar was willing to sacrifice his professional commitment and work for the uplift of the Members of the Bar. (Island 16/12/13)
“There was a time when we worked to uplift the community. That effort has been desecrated by what the Movement did. We can now only afford to think of uplifting ourselves and our families.” (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 147)
… education, which is essential to uplift the socially downtrodden. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 291)
And yet recipients were marginalised instead of finding social upliftment. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 304)

uplift: (2) (v) withdraw (money, e.g. from a bank account)
Customer wishes to uplift the funds from his account.


uguressa: a small purple fruit (not red) (Sinhala)
(Click here to see a photograph)

ulama (Arabic): DELETE (common in other varieties of English)

underemployed: DELETE (common in other varieties of English)

undergrad: DELETE (common in other varieties of English)

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