Etymology and Idioms
The name Delhi is thought to derive from Dhillu or Dilu, a king of Mauryan dynasty who built the city in 50 BC and named it after himself. The Hindi/Prakrit word dhili (loose) was used by the Tomaras to refer to the city because the Iron Pillar built by Raja Dhava had a weak foundation and was replaced. The coins in circulation in the region under the Tomaras were called dehliwal. Some other historians believe that the name is derived from Dilli, a corruption of dehleez or dehali—both terms meaning 'threshold' or 'gateway'— and symbolic of the city as a gateway to the Gangetic Plain. Another theory suggests that the city's original name was Dhillika. As per Bhavishya Purana, Prithviraj Chauhan, the King of Indraprastha built a new fort in the modern-day Purana Qila area for the convenience of all four castes in his kingdom. He ordered the construction of a gateway to the fort and later named the fort dehali.
The people of Delhi are referred to as Dilliwallahs or Delhiites. The city is referenced in various idioms of the Northern Indo-Aryan languages. Examples include:
- Abhi Dilli door hai or its Persian version, Hanouz Dehli dour ast, literally meaning Delhi is still far away, which is generically said about a task or journey still far from completion.
- Dilli dilwalon ka shehr or Dilli Dilwalon ki meaning Delhi belongs to the large-hearted/daring.
- Aas-paas barse, Dilli pari tarse, literally meaning it pours all around, while Delhi lies parched. An allusion to the sometimes semi-arid climate of Delhi, it idiomatically refers to situations of deprivation when one is surrounded by plenty.
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