Meaning of the Hindi word “Jiya” जिय

We have named our newborn daughter “jiya”. For some reason, we had thought of this name many years ago, even before our first child Manan was born. In this post, I want to share my attempts at finding the origin and real meaning of jiya. Here’s how far I have reached:

जिय is a word from the Hindustani (aka Hindi-Urdu) language that likely originates from the Sanskrit word जीव which was probably first morphed into the colloquial Hindi word जी and then into जिय and variation जिया. The Sanskrit जीव is a deep word that signifies the essence of life, the spirit and the soul that imparts life with vitality. Hence the words जी and जिय both mean “spirit” or “soul”. Sometimes जिय is used to denote “heart” or “piece of heart”, but it does not literally mean the organ heart. Synonyms in Hindi would be the words मन and चित्. Here are some ways these words are used in the vernacular:

  1. जी कर रहा है …..
  2. मेरा जी खुश है / जल रहा है / सुखी है / भर अाया है / ….
  3. जिय has sometimes been morphed into जिया and appears in many popular Bollywood songs such as “जिया जले”, “जिया धडक धडक जाए”, “जिया बेकरार है” etc.

Note that the word जिय appears in much of Hindi literature from eminent medieval poets such as Tulsidas, Suurdas, Rahim, etc.

If you are reading this and have some more insight, please do let me know!

References

The “Digital Dictionaries of South Asia” is a wonderful online resource. The word जिय appears in many different dictionaries there. For example, Shyamsundar Das’s Hindi dictionary says:

जिय † संज्ञा पुं० [सं० जीव] मन । चित्त । जी । उ०—(क) अस जिय जानि सुनहु सिख भाई । करहु मातु पितु पद सेव— करई ।—तुलसी (शब्द०) । (ख) प्रसनं चंद सम जतिय दिन इक मंत्र इष्ट जिय । इह आराधत भट्ट प्रगट पंचास बीर बिय ।—पृ० रा०, ६ । २६ ।

and Platts’ Urdu/Classical Hindi dictionary suggests:

H جيا जिया jiyājīʼā [S. जीव+कः], s.m. Life, soul (=); beloved, dear, darling.

It also suggests many more common uses of the words जी and जिय here.

Miscellaneous

  • The words ज्या and जिया also appear in Sanskrit and from there in Pali, Prakrit and even in Persian as zih. There they mean “rope” or “bowstring”. As an aside, this word is at the root of the trigonometric word “sine”.
  • The name Jiya also appears in South Africa and means “piece of heart”.
  • The name Gia is an Italian name that means “God is gracious”.
  • The name Jia in Chinese means “beautiful”.
  • An easy way to search for how popular a name is to search for it on Twitter. For example, these are the results for Jiya.
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