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Sri Lankan English - Updates D

This page contains updates to the dictionary beginning with the letter D. 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.


D: (at Sri Lankan O level exam) distinction (equivalent of A grade) (> C,S)
8 Ds including Maths and English

damn good: (coll.) serves him/her right
“Sit and scratch! Damn good for you.” (Spit and Polish, by Carl Muller, page 235)
“Damn good for the bugger,” ... (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 392)

dasasil matha: a Buddhist nun who observes the dasasil but does not have the status of a bhikkhuni (Sinhala)
But some dasa sil mathas have aspired to the status of becoming Bhikkunis, because they believe that total renunciation of lay life is the right path to release from sansara. It is also argued that in the teachings of the Buddha, there is no such neither-here-nor-there permanent status or institution known as dasa sil mathas. …
The Ven. Bhikkuni Saddha Sumana is chief incumbent of the Sri Thusitharamaya in Eheliyagoda and she has several dasa sil mathas, resident and non-resident studying under her. (Sunday Times 10/05/98)
First Dasasil Matha on university staff (Island 02/06/02)

dash coconuts: smash coconuts (as part of a religious ritual)
Podian the driver had rushed out of the dusty shop, into the Pettah Kovil and dashed a coconut at Lord Kataragama’s feet and begun to pray. (Monsoons and Potholes, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 108)
… and there is an apathetic stone pig on which the ritual of pol geseema (dashing of coconuts) takes place. (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 242)
As part of their series of ‘coconut dashing’ rituals to invoke the curse of the deities on the government, members of the Joint Opposition … yesterday dashed coconuts at one of the temples at the Munneswaram Kovil complex in Chilaw. … Meanwhile, on the same day, members of trade unions affiliated to the Government dashed coconuts at the Kali Amman temple at the complex, invoking curses on the Joint Opposition. (Sunday Times 20/03/16)

Dayaka Sabha: Vihara Development Society, a committee of lay donors to a Buddhist temple or viharaya (Sinhala)
With the donations from the Dayaka Sabha and well-wishers the thera was gloriously successful in the performance of this honoured task. (Daily News 16/05/13)

However, repeated requests had been refused by the Chief Incumbents of the temple and the Dayaka Sabha. (The Nation 04/05/14)

death donation society: a village-level organisation providing micro-credit for funeral costs (Sinhala: Maranadhara Samithiya)
Six teak trees, said to be fifteen years old inside the Public Cemetery of Ridimaliyadda, Uraniya had been illegally felled on Sunday. The Death Donation Society of the area laments that no action had been taken to arrest those involved in this act. (Daily Mirror, 16/01/13)

The opening ceremony of the newly constructed building for the use of the Death Donation Society and Village Development Society at Sapumalpura Chilaw will be held tomorrow at 4 p.m. (Daily News 29/06/13)

death fast (= fast unto death): hunger strike
Death fast by Ukrainian duo (Sunday Times 19/06/11)
Tamil political prisoners begin death fast ( 12/10/15)
Instead, you stay with the original plan: a death fast. (Sunday Times 02/04/17)

defa, deffa: (coll.) definitely
> See A-Z of Sri Lankan English: D is for deffa
He will defa help you out ( 26/03/08)
… but I would defa wanna see Sanga, Dili and Mahela playing 2015 WC... (comment on 07/11/12)
you will deffa be the Super Star Dasun ( 03/06/13)
Ramith will defa hit a double ( 11/10/13)
This is my first own car although ive been using my dads for a few years but deffa need some help with a few issues. ( 15/12/13)
Thanks buddy for the update and defa this info is going to help many of us … ( 03/02/14)

de-gazette: cancel or rescind a gazette notification
Following a Sinhalese being made GA Vavuniya, a request has been made to de-gazette 8000 additional acres of forest land for Sinhalese settlement. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 298)

del chips (= breadfruit chips): chips made of deep-fried breadfruit pieces
In her hand was a plate, on which, in a green banana leaf wrapping, were dhel chips in palm honey, a delicacy Latha remembered eating as a child in her grandmother’s house in her ancestral village. (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 238)
Chandralal turned from me to his wife, who came in bearing a tray with glasses of lime soda and a bowl of fried del chips. (The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai, page 235)

delist: (vt) discharge, release from military service; (vi) to be delisted, to resign from military service, to remove oneself (or a company or organisation) from a list or register
> In standard usage, delist is a transitive verb meaning to remove something from a list, e.g. a company from a stock exchange register. It is most commonly used in the passive (the company has been delisted). In SLE it can also be used intransitively (as in the last 3 citations below).
Army to de-list 50,000 deserters (Island 26/08/03)
The Army, after a comparatively unsatisfactory drive to de-list army deserters numbering 80,661 deserters, is to launch another ambitious drive to de-list the balance 70,369 deserters from next month, Adjutant General of the Sri Lanka Army Major General Ranjith Silva said yesterday. The de-listing of deserters will take place again at Panagoda, Malay Street and Boyagane Army camps from May 9 at different dates enabling deserters who missed their chances at the previous occasion to get their clearance certificates from the Army. (Daily News 22/04/05)
LTTE attempts to delist from EU terrorist organization list ( 06/06/11)
More than 5 firms to delist from CSE (Sunday Times 16/03/14)
Under this new programme for delisting, absentees can … receive their discharge from service within days. ( 26/03/15)

Demala, Demalaya: (coll., derog.) a Tamil person (Sinhala) (> para Demala, Sinhalaya)
“That Demalaya is nothing but a pain,” … He was too ashamed to say that Rohana had called him Demalaya. And he knew he couldn’t explain why it was such an insult. (At the Water’s Edge, by Pradeep Jeganathan, page 17-20)
I grew up in an Ariya Sinhala house where the words demalaya and thambiya were tossed around like dirty rags. (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 353)

“Leader of the opposition is now a Demala! …” – “We shouldn’t call them Demalas, … That’s not nice.” … “Demala just means Tamil person,” … (On Sal Mal Lane, by Ru Freeman, page 196)
Must be the work of ‘Terrorist demalas’ … (comment on 13/08/13)

deva: deity; female: devi (from Sanskrit) (SAE)
The PC shut his eyes in anguish, fired a mental DHL to the devas and screamed, … (Spit and Polish, by Carl Muller, page 23)
The astrologer silently thanked the devas for enabling him to comprehend the planets, … (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 85)
A man, who has the luminescent beauty of a deva, bedecked in jewels and gold-threaded silks, appears and welcomes the king, … (The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai, page 25)
Note the detail on the radiant full moon and the procession of devas moving towards the Buddha image. (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 183)

devil dancer: a person who performs a devil dance in a thovil (traditional exorcism ceremony)
Who would think a ship larger than some of their villages could rise and fall from side to side like a devil dancer’s shoulders? (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 240)

“When one of these demons enters a person, … the village has to summon the devil dancers. All night long, they dance and drum, and spin and leap and flip in the air. They wear masks with bulging eyes and huge headdresses of human and raffia hair.” (Island of a Thousand Mirrors, by Nayomi Munaweera, page 65)

devil mask (= vesmuhuna): a traditional mask worn by a devil dancer
The lower ranks of the departing English went in for handiwork from the village: devil masks and palm-sized charms ... (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 199)
Then the reason reared its ugly painted head into her consciousness like a devil’s mask at a thovil. (The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons, by Ashok Ferrey, page 266)

deviyane!: oh my God! (Sinhala exclamation)
Deyyanai, was it a sin in a past life that gave me a weakling for a son?” (The Banana Tree Crisis, by Isankya Kodithuwakku, page 131)
“Deviyane don’t let it be too late,” … (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 306)

dewa (= vahumpura): jaggery-maker caste (Sinhala)
They were known as the Deva or Vahumpura, a caste group whose origins very little is known about save for the fact that they claim a military origin from the ancient Kshatriyas, the Aryan warrior caste, a claim supported by the fact that a good many of their upper rungs are rather fair-skinned and bear names like Hevage ‘House of the Soldier’ and Devage ‘House of the Deva’, deva being a synonym for the Kshatriyas of old. (Accha House and Umma House, by Asiff Hussein, page 11-12)
Sinhala Buddhist parents of mixed caste Dewa-Durawa from Colombo suburb father professor mother retired teacher seek a Science educated professionally qualifed teetotaller nonsmoker partner below 30-years for their 27.5 YO fair pretty slim daughter 5’4” … (Sunday Observer 16/12/12)
I don’t know how a person born to Dewa parents can be a Salagama. As far as I know Nanda Mathew never claimed he was a Salagama. He didn’t have to since the electorate he contested in 1977 election (Kolonna) was a Dewa majority one. The reason he was picked to contest Kolonna in the Ratnapura district was nothing but Caste. P.O Wimalanga of LSSP, a lawyer from Colombo represented this electorate in 70-77 government. He too was a Dewa. This electorate was given to the LSSP under the no-contest arrangement they had with SLFP in 1970. N.M Perera cleverly selected Wimalanga taking in to account the caste factor. (comment on 11/08/13)

Dhammapada: Buddhist verses (Sinhala)

He died as he had lived. Devoted to the wisdom of the Buddha and the Dhammapada resting upon his lap. (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 342)

The old teacher was always ready with quotes from the Dhammapada, … (Somewhere, by Vijita Fernando, page 35)

dhamma school (= daham pasal): Buddhist Sunday school

English program mooted for Dhamma school children (Sunday Observer 16/02/14)

dhobi mark: (dated) the individual mark or number placed on laundry to identify who it belongs to (also used metaphorically as in last 2 citations below)
Each 'dhoby' created his own "dhoby mark" for individual households which was indelibly inked into an unobtrusive corner thus avoiding exchange of linen. (Sunday Island 24/09/10)
Senkottan is an unusual word among the urban readership for it is the name of a seed used to etch dhoby marks in bygone days. (Sunday Observer 27/04/14)
Incompetent and corrupt heads … are also plundering kickbacks from suppliers/local agents by delaying tactics in putting their dhobi marks on finalised tenders, causing a severe shortage of drugs in government hospitals. (Sunday Leader 11/04/04)
… they do not make decisions on the way those commentators that leave their little dhoby marks below articles posted on wesites do. (Daily News 21/12/13)

dhobi woman: (dated) a woman who washes clothes * The Lament of the Dhobi Woman by Karen Roberts
The dhobi woman reached into her blouse and pulled out a watch. (The Flower Boy, by Karen Roberts, page 112)
He could not have a liaison with a dhobi woman. (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 15)

The dhobi woman has filled a tub with well water, floating jasmine, cloves, and sticks of cinnamon. (What Lies Between Us, by Nayomi Munaweera, page 55)

dhoni: (also dhony) (hist.) a traditional sailing boat (Tamil)
> The word dhoni is used in contemporary Tamil, and also in the Maldives, to refer to a large boat.

They were dumped into frail boats – vallams or dhonies – and ferried across the Palk Strait. (Spit and Polish, by Carl Muller, page 45)
The boats used by Sri Lankans were small sailing craft (with one mast) known as dhonies, capable of carrying 50 tons of cargo. Since the trade was not very large, the dhoni – used from early times – proved adequate for the limited task of coastal shipping. Of the shipping vessels registered at Colombo in 1830, two were described as ships, ten as brigs and small square-rigged vessels, and 190 as dhonies. (Nobodies to Somebodies, by Kumari Jayawardena, page 14)

dhool: tea leaves at a certain stage of the production process between withering and grading (from Hindi?: dhool = dust)
Moisture content of the dhool is reduced down to 4% during the drying stage. (Daily News 20/07/04)

Dilscoop: (in cricket) a scoop shot popularised by batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan
Dilshan brings out his Dilscoop in Australia ( 26/01/13)
The Dilscoop is a cricket batting stroke developed by Sri Lankan right-handed batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan during the ICC World Twenty20 held during June 2009 in England.
The basis of the stroke is to go on one knee to a good length or slightly short of length delivery off a fast or medium paced bowler and 'scoop' the ball over the head of the wicket keeper. The ball travels straight towards the boundary behind the wicket keeper. (

disavani: (hist.) a district of the Kandyan kingdom administered by a disava
Sometime after the death of Migastenne Udagampahe Adigar in 1806, the King divided the administration of the Disavani of Sath Korale between Ehelapola and Molligoda. (Daily News 09/07/04)
But Rajasinha did not pursue his advantage and go deep into the Matara disavani, though the opportunity to do so was there. (Island 29/07/11)
As provincial chieftain in charge of Uva ‘disavani’, Keppetipola Nilame was virtually the ruler of the remote sparsely populated area collecting revenue, exacting the labour service due to the king and having judicial powers. (Financial Times 17/12/16)

District Secretary: government official in charge of a district (formerly Government Agent); also District Secretariat
The government officials include 20 Divisional Secretaries and the District Secretary of the Kandy District Secretariat. (Sunday Times 12/08/12)

disturb: (vi) disturb someone
“Sorry to disturb, Gamini,” ... (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 60)

Divisional Secretary (= DS): government official in charge of a division (part of a district) (formerly Assistant Government Agent); also Divisional Secretariat
Six officers including one Divisional Secretary and five Grama Sevakas are among those arrested by the Commission. (Sunday Observer 25/11/12)

Two years after being ‘resettled’, the Tamils in Kokkuthoduwai Central contacted the Divisional Secretary for Weli Oya (a newly created Sinhalese division). The Divisional Secretary, however, refused to let them resume farming activity in their lands. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 283)

doctor Sunny: a Nissan Sunny car (FB-13 model, year of manufacture 1991)
> This particular model became associated with doctors after 1000 cars were imported and offered to doctors duty free.

14 Nissan Doctor Sunny Cars for sale (

dolphin (kottu): a dish served at Muslim hotels consisting of chopped up paratha with gravy
sri lanka has upped its game… we now have a kottu called 'dolphin' made from paratta and not the traditional roti.
so that's what 'dolphin kottu' means. i saw it the other day at a kade and was shocked. why do they call it dolphin? (comments on

… and dolphin kotthu (is there any food more erroneously named than dolphin kotthu?) Unlike the standard kotthu, the roti for dolphin kotthu is cut unevenly, with larger pieces of roti and a base similar to that of a milky chicken pallandy binding it. Tonight’s version is the same variation of dolphin kotthu offered at most food outlets with milk, cheese, chicken, chopped vegetables and a spice blend mixed with the roti. The kotthu is served on a plantain leaf with a spoonful of curried chickpeas, chillie paste, onion sambol, slivers of cucumber and a wedge of lime. (Sunday Times 27/03/16)

domiciled: resident, living
Sri Lankans domiciled in England have protested in front of David Cameron’s office ... ( 11/03/14)
Being the wife of a physician myself, and domiciled in the United States, I am putting those lessons to good use. (Island 26/05/16)

dosha: (in ayurveda) one of the three elements or forces (vata, pitta and kapha) which affect the health and wellbeing of the human body (from Sanskrit) (SAE)
According to Ayurveda, if we are experiencing disease, it means there is an imbalance in our doshas; bringing our system back into balance is the key to the cure. (

doubt: I doubt: (coll.) I doubt it (> like)
I wondered if I fell ill and came to doctor Wijewardena whether he would treat me the same … I doubt. (Sam’s Story, by Elmo Jayawardena, page 76)

“If Pradeep Mathew is alive, would he go to the funeral of his only surviving parent?”
“I doubt.” (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 312)

dress (= drape): (v) put on (a sari), or get it draped professionally, e.g. for a wedding
Can you help me to dress the sari?

She dressed her saree and sat on a side of the boat. (Sunday Observer 04/04/04)

drivers’ quarters: a room or rooms where drivers are provided accommodation (> servants’ quarters)
“I stay in the drivers’ quarters at the hotel.” (A Cause Untrue, by David Blacker, page 55)
“He’ll be in the drivers’ quarters.” (Serendipity, by Ashok Ferrey, page 152)

DS (1) (= Divisional Secretary)
Puttalam DS assaulted by protesters (Daily Mirror 25/06/13)

DS (2) DS Senanayake (first Prime Minister of independent Ceylon); also DS Senanayake College, Colombo
D.S. spearheaded the independence struggle of the then Ceylon. … D.S. hailed from a highly respectable family in the Hapitigama Korale of the Western Province. … Young D.S. studied at St. Thomas’ College which was then situated in Mutwal. (Daily Mirror 20/10/14)
The scholarship fund is to assist DS Advanced Level students who have excellent academic track records but face financial difficulties in pursuing their studies. … With the help of former DS students living abroad we would like to set up a USA/Sri Lanka fund that will help our DS brothers to attain success and in turn encourage them to support the future generation of the college. (

duwe (= duwa): daughter (a familiar term of address) (Sinhala)
“Aney, duwe, open your eyes and look at me.” (Monsoons & Potholes, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 26)
“Why were you hiding duwe?” (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 171)
“The order has to be protected, duwe …” (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 331)

Dy.: (abbr.) Deputy (Dep.) (SAE)
Police Fail To Arrest Dy. Minister (Sunday Leader 19/09/15)

Dy principal arrested while accepting bribe (Island 24/01/17)


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