Sri Lankan English
Learning Sinhala
Learning Tamil
Contact Us


























Sri Lankan English - Updates H

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


hackery race: a traditional race held during the New Year with hackeries (light bullock carts)
Hackery races mar spirit of Avurudu
We thank IGP Victor Perera for issuing instructions to all police personnel to prevent incidents of cruelty to the cart bull in hackery (thirikkal) races organized during Sinhala and Tamil New Year festivities. … In the old days, hackery racing was a noble sport indulged in mostly by the wealthy and leading families of certain towns. (Island 10/04/07)

hadu: (coll.) dirty, unkempt, slovenly (Sinhala)
wearing her usual hadu clothes

hakka patas: a homemade explosive device used to kill wild animals (Sinhala)
The hakka patas is a mixture of explosive matter, lead and iron made into a ball, which is inserted into a cucumber or a pumpkin. (Sunday Times 26/12/10)

half: (in numbers) a half
Dylan had legs that grew hair that was approximately one and half inches long. (Learning to Fly, by Shehani Gomes, page 24)
Three and half years later at the grand ceremony that had become custom in Sri Lankan society, Nirmaleen would wear a pink-gray sari. (Learning to Fly, by Shehani Gomes, page 85)
The naked bulb in the guest room had been lowered so that it hung just one-and-half feet above the floor. (Playing Pillow Politics at MGK, by Lal Medawattegedara, page 292)

halmilla: Trincomalee wood (Berrya cordifolia), a type of wood used to make boats, masks and vats for storing arrack (Sinhala)
a special blend of coconut spirits matured in halmilla vats
Distilled from the sap of the coconut flower and aged in Halmilla Wood. (
They carried large leak-proof barrels made of Suriya planks or Halmilla to stock the fish, and Goraka to preserve the fish. (Island 24/12/07)

hammer (2): (vi) (coll.) strike out (in cricket); drink (a lot), booze, get drunk (BSE: get hammered); drive fast
After reaching his century Sanath started hammering.
They were hammering away at the wedding.
After passing Puttalam we hammered.
> In standard usage, hammer as an intransitive verb generally means hitting with a hammer, or a related meaning. In colloquial SLE it can have a wider range of uses.
If you are taking the scenic cruise rather than hammering along the highway, … ( 13/02/14)

handalla: Indian anchovy (Stolephorus indicus), a small fish commonly served fried as a bite (Sinhala)
> The Sinhala plural is handallo, but more often handallas in colloquial SLE.

There would be fried handallo, devilled beef, potato chips … (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 86)
I also tried the fried Handalla, a small fish fried in seasoned batter and served with chili sauce. (Daily Mirror 20/11/07)
And the bites are delicious - crispy little fillets of handallo encased in shining, golden batter - delicious when salted with the juice of a lime - … ( 07/02/13)
A beautiful array of golden, crumb fried prawns, Handallas, Cuttlefish and Kingfish … ( 15/10/13)

har’ par’ six fellow: (coll.) a useless person
His thoughts drifted to the past, and the words “You’re just a har’ par’ six fellow” resounded in his head. A har’ par’ six fellow. That was what she had called him before destroying his relationship with her sister Daphne. The phrase “har’ par’ six fellow” was an insult used by her family to describe a worthless person. It was always uttered in a tone heavy with contempt. It came from the image of a clock at half past six, when both hands point down to give a limp appearance. (The Mirror of Paradise, by Asgar Hussein, page 22)

hathmaluwa: a traditional curry made with 7 vegetables (Sinhala)
She also invariably sings the praises of our traditional hath maluwa, containing as it does, almost all needed nutriments: protein from the pulses in it - dhal; vitamins and minerals from the greens in it, starch from the roots and tubers, oil from the coconut milk and tempering. For good measure if you throw in a couple of dried sprats, both its taste and nourishment will be enhanced. (Island 27/10/02)

hatti mutti: different types of clay pots (Sinhala)
The new strategy of the UNP, which was approved by the working committee last week; is to take to streets on April 3, against the rising Cost-of-Living and dash the cooking utensils (Hatti Mutti) on the ground in protest. (Nation 30/03/08)
I wonder why he is so afraid of women with Hatti Mutti in hand. (comment on 04/04/08)
Grandma’s kitchen always provided a platform for the best earthenware competition, with the sheer number of clay pottery or colloquially hatti mutti. ( 05/12)

Havies: Havelock Sports Club rugby team
Havies down Police in second half rally (Nation 20/11/15)
Havies are known for their exciting brand of open rugby … (Nation 27/11/15)
A super fit Havies side, playing with a lot of fire and spirit, bombarded the CR in their own den … (Sunday Times 29/11/15)

hearth: from the (frying) pan to the hearth: out of the frying pan into the fire
Instead of leaving a larger tax on petrol and diesel, the government has dragged the people into a big mess (from the frying pan to the hearth). (Sunday Times 01/06/08)
… Minister Devananda said that the armed struggle had thrown the Tamils from the frying pan to the hearth itself. (Nation 23/08/09)
“Now, we have fallen from the frying pan to the hearth.” (Ceylon Today 18/02/13)
Children in North fall from pan to the hearth ( 22/07/13)
Your kind of thinking leads us from frying pan to the hearth … (comment on 18/08/13)
Farmers fall from the pan to the hearth ( 19/09/13)

Heartian: a student or former student of Sacred Heart Convent, Galle (> LCite)
Her love and dedication to the game has been justly rewarded by her school as she has led the Heartian netball teams from the under 12 age group to the current under 19. (Daily News 23/06/12)

hell of a thing!: (coll.) (expression of surprise)
“This is a hell of a thing.” (No Return, by Rajitha Dissanayake, translated by Hasini Haputhanthri and Gihan de Chickera, page 33)

here and there: from place to place
> In standard usage, here and there means in various places (cushions scattered here and there on the floor); in SLE it can also be used in the sense of moving from place to place.
… Father Anton was dog-tired after running here and there the whole day. (Distant Warriors, by Channa Wickremesekera, page 47)
They took me here and there, parks, zoos, picnics, … (A Nice Burgher Girl, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 427)
I walked here and there, with Sarath tracking my movements like a dog following its master. (Can You Hear me Running, by Lal Medawattegedara, page 16)

higher studies: further education (SAE)
The boy was a sure candidate for higher studies. (Sinhala Only, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 448)

Hikka: (coll.) Hikkaduwa

An hour later, they drove into the tourist town of Hikkaduwa, or Hikka as they called it. Hikka was a little outpost of Colombo in the South, a place that decades of tourist development had turned into a commercialized, westernized resort town. (Strange Fruit, by Afdhel Aziz, page 213)

hill capital: Kandy
Cricket matches with All Saints’ College, Kandy, had often made journeys between Colombo and the hill capital necessary in Chris’s schooldays, … (The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne, page 252)

hill country Tamil (= upcountry Tamil): a member of the 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 (> Sri Lankan Tamil)
However the struggle for solidarity with the Hill Country Tamils seems a lost cause for the working class movements in the South because of their past betrayal. (The Broken Palmyrah, by Rajan Hoole et al, page 404)
The rights taken away from the Hill Country Tamils of Lanka are unequivocally guaranteed under international law. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 16)
… he had a roommate of Hill Country Tamil origin who was a medical student. (Palmyra Fallen, by Rajan Hoole, page 86)

homecoming sari: the sari worn by the bride for the homecoming ceremony
… the engagement, the selection of the bride’s homecoming sari, … (Serendipity, by Ashok Ferrey, page 67)

home people: family, the people you live with (SAE)
… right from the start his home people had been playing a double game and thus had led the entire public astray. ( 17/09/16)
When the connection was sniffed by home-people, they strongly opposed this. ( 11/03/17)
So for you the option available is to ask your home people to send it across to you so that you could contact them and ask them activate the same. (comment on 02/05/17)

Hony.: (abbr.) Honorary (Hon.)
Hony. Treasurer, Hony. Consul, Hony. Secy. (= Honorary Secretary)
Uditha, First SL Hony. Fellow of SLIM (Sunday Times 17/04/11)
Fiji Island appoints Parakrama as the Hony. Consul in Sri Lanka (Sunday Times 03/11/13)

hoowa: a traditional measure of distance: the distance that a shouted ‘hoo’ can be heard (Sinhala)
“We are not even half a hoo distance from our destination,” … (Theravada Man, by Manuka Wijesinghe, page 52)
“It is twelve cries away, son, a long time away.” … Bradley would … wonder how far twelve cries might be, the distance from which a call, a hoowa, could be heard, a distance, the boy reasoned, that must vary with terrain, the density of trees, the sound of waves, of wind. (A Little Dust on the Eyes, by Minoli Salgado, page 93)
Apparently, the king and his engineers were having difficulty deciding on the exact placement of the wewa, when a deva (god) helped out with a loud hoowa (shout of ‘hooo!’), indicating the ideal place. (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 110)

hopper mixture: the rice flour batter used to make hoppers
A huge container of hopper mixture sat next to them. (July, by Karen Roberts, page 210)
The young man making the hoppers tapped an egg on the rim of the iron pan and tilted it into the soft hopper mixture. (All is Burning, by Jean Arasanayagam, page 362)

hopper pan (= aappa thaachchiya): a small bowl-shaped pan used for making hoppers
With it, she bought string-hopper moulds, cane watti, and hopper pans … (The Banana Tree Crisis, by Isankya Kodithuwakku, page 156)

... they took dented kettles and rusted hopper pans with them ... (Beggar’s Feast, by Randy Boyagoda, page 16)
She pours batter into the small curved hopper pan, turns it deftly so that the liquid coats the rounded surface, … (What Lies Between Us, by Nayomi Munaweera, page 60)

hot butter cuttlefish: deep-fried cuttlefish dish popular in Sri Lankan Chinese restaurants
6 months away from home, now I was returning to family and hot butter cuttlefish and possessed trishaw drivers and everything that I love about Sri Lanka. (Sunday Times 19/07/09)
... so if you come here looking for hot butter cuttlefish or chicken with cashew nuts and dry red chilli you'll be disappointed. … This is just different, and it makes for a nice change when you've had just a bit too much kan kun, fried rice and hot butter cuttlefish. ( 24/10/12)

how-do-you-do: a hell of a how-do-you-do, a fine how-do-you-do: a mess, a ridiculous situation
“Fine how do you do, no? “ (The Jam Fruit Tree, by Carl Muller, page 69)
This is a fine how do you do. (Island 25/01/01)
That’s a hell of a how do you do, no. (Sunday Times 19/03/06)
Hell of a how-do-you-do..! I fortify myself with another gulp from my drink. (Sunday Observer 23/11/08)
This is a hell of a how do you do, we thought. (Island 09/04/12) 
A fine how-do-you-do you’d think, but that’s how it is. (Daily News 28/11/12)
“Hell of a how do you do this is.” ( 12/08/15)

how many (= so many): (coll.) lots of, a lot of
“In my era, how many talented players were kept out?” (Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka, page 263)

“How many people dial wrong numbers.” (No Return, by Rajitha Dissanayake, translated by Hasini Haputhanthri and Gihan de Chickera, page 34)
“We did it only last week … for the first time in how many years!” (The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons, by Ashok Ferrey, page 257)

hubby: (in newspaper headlines) husband (restricted to informal contexts in other varieties of English)
Alleged acid throwing hubby remanded (Sunday Times 08/03/15)

human-elephant conflict: the problems associated with the destruction of human property by elephants, and the destruction of elephant habitats by humans (also Africa)
> Although not unique to Sri Lanka, this term is in everyday use in SLE (for example in newspaper reports), whereas elsewhere it is restricted to the context of wildlife conservation.

Human-elephant conflict: A viable solution through locally developed technology (Sunday Times 25/07/10)
Cultivation and settlements in areas where elephants roam result in loss and fragmentation of elephant habitat, crop raiding by elephants, increased encounters and interaction between people and elephants, and human-elephant conflict. Over the past six decades or so, the main approach to conserving elephants and mitigating the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka has been the effort to limit elephants to protected areas under the Department of Wildlife Conservation. However, despite over half a century of sustained effort, over 70% of elephants range outside these protected areas. Annually around 70 people and 250 elephants lose their lives to human-elephant conflict, making it a major socio-economic, political and conservation issue. (Sigiriya & Beyond, by Neranjana Gunetilleke et al, page 54)
Now, more than before, newspapers report the toll of the human-elephant conflict; … (The Line of Lanka, by Sunela Jayewardene, page 123)


homecoming: traditionally held in the bridegroom’s house, but now commonly held in a hotel or wedding hall

house full: fully booked, sold out (but not ‘houseful’ which is also included in the dictionary)

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.



Copyright © Mirisgala