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The tourist hub of Bangkok's Khaosan Road is associated with farang

Farang (فرنگ) is a Persian word which refers to Franks, once the major Germanic tribe ruling Western Europe. In the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia "Farang" refers to Europeans. This in turn comes from the Old French word franc, meaning "Frank", a West Germanic tribe that became a major political power in Western and Central Europe during the early Middle Ages, and from which France derives its name. Because the Frankish Empire ruled a large part of Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Low Countries) for centuries, all Europeans and even Middle Easterners associated the word "Frank" with Latins who professed the Roman Catholic faith. Frangistan (Persian: فرنگستان‎) was a term used by Muslims and Persians in particular, during the Middle Ages and later periods, to refer to Western or Latin Europe. Muslim traders referred to European traders as Farang and it also entered the local vernaculars of South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Farang (Thai: ฝรั่ง, [faràŋ], colloquially [falàŋ]) is a generic Thai word for person of white race no matter where they may come from; the Americas, Europe, etc. The term is also used for white latin Americans and light skinned latinos. Not all latinos however, brown skinned latin-Americans are often confused with Arabs in Thailand, and thus, not Farang. The Royal Institute Dictionary 1999, the official dictionary of Thai words, defines the word as "a person of white race".[1]

Edmund Roberts, US envoy in 1833, defined the term as "Frank (or European)".[2] People of mixed Sub-Saharan African-European descent were called farang dam (Thai: ฝรั่งดำ; 'black farang') to distinguish them from white people. This began during the Vietnam War, when the United States military maintained bases in Thailand. The practice continues in present-day Bangkok.[3][4]


Farang statue in Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand

The word farang is from Persian word farang (فرنگ) or farangī (فرنگی), refers to Franks, the major Germanic tribe ruling Western Europe. Frangistan (Persian: فرنگستان‎) was a term used by Muslims and Persians in particular, during the Middle Ages and later periods, to refer to Western or Latin Europe. According to Rashid al-din Fazl Allâh, farang comes from the Arabic word afranj.[5] In Ethiopia faranj means white/European people. During the Muslim Mughal Empire when the Europeans arrived in South Asia, the Persian word Farang was used to refer to them since the Muslims knew the Europeans during their Crusades wars in the Middle East. The words also added to local languages such as Hindi and Nepali as firangi (Devanāgarī: फिरंगी) and Bengali as firingi. The word was pronounced paranki (പറങ്കി) in Malayalam, parangiar in Tamil, entered Khmer as barang, and Malay as ferenggi. From there the term spread into China as folangji (佛郎機), which was used to refer to the Portuguese and their breech-loading swivel guns when they first arrived in China.

Other usesEdit

South AsiaEdit

In Bangladesh and West Bengal, the modern meaning of firingi (ফিরিঙ্গি) refers to Anglo-Bengalis or Bengalis with European ancestry. Most firingis tend to be Bengali Christians. Descendants of firingis which married local Bengali women may also be referred to as Kaala Firingis (Black firingis) or Matiya Firingis' (Earth-coloured firingis).[6] Following the Portuguese settlement in Chittagong, the Portuguese fort and naval base came to be known as Firingi Bandar or the Foreigner's Port. There are also places such as Firingi Bazaar which exist in older parts of Dhaka and Chittagong. The descendants of these Portuguese traders in Chittagong continue to be referred to as Firingis.[7] The Indian biographical film Antony Firingee was very popular in the mid 20th century and was based on Anthony Firingee - a Bengali folk singer of Portuguese origin. There is also a river in the Sundarbans called Firingi River.

In the Maldives faranji was the term used to refer to foreigners of European origin, especially the French. Until recently the lane next to the Bastion in the northern shore of Male' was called Faranji Kalō Gōlhi.[8]

Southeast AsiaEdit

Farang is also the Thai word for the guava fruit, introduced by Portuguese traders over 400 years ago.[9]

Farang is also the Thai word for foreigners, used habitually throughout the country.

Farang khi nok (Thai: ฝรั่งขี้นก) is slang commonly used as an insult to a person of white race whose is rude, having extremely bad manners, or poor. The term means "bird-droppings guava", as khi means waste, nok means bird and farang mean guava (in this setting it means "a person of the white race"). It may also be used toward Thais that acts similar to a Farang.[10]

Varieties of food/produce that were introduced by Europeans are often called farang varieties. Hence, potatoes are man farang (Thai: มันฝรั่ง), whereas man (Thai: มัน) alone can be any tuber; culantro is called phak chi farang (Thai: ผักชีฝรั่ง, literally farang cilantro/coriander); and chewing gum is mak farang (Thai: หมากฝรั่ง). Mak (Thai: หมาก) is Thai for arecanut; chewing mak together with betel leaves (baiphlu) was a Thai custom.

In the Isan Lao dialect, the guava is called mak sida (Thai: หมากสีดา), mak being a prefix for fruit names. Thus bak sida (Thai: บักสีดา), bak being a prefix when calling males, refers jokingly to a Westerner, by analogy to the Thai language where farang can mean both guava and Westerner.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ พจนานุกรม ฉบับราชบัณฑิตยสถาน พ.ศ. 2542 [Royal Institute Dictionary 1999] (in Thai). Royal Institute of Thailand. 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-03-03. Retrieved 2014-04-05. ฝรั่ง ๑ [ฝะหฺรั่ง] น. ชนชาติผิวขาว; คําประกอบชื่อสิ่งของบางอย่างที่มาจากต่างประเทศซึ่งมีลักษณะคล้ายของไทย เช่น ขนมฝรั่ง ละมุดฝรั่ง มันฝรั่ง ตะขบฝรั่ง ผักบุ้งฝรั่ง แตรฝรั่ง.
  2. ^ Roberts, Edmund. "Chapter XIX 1833 Officers of Government". Embassy to the Eastern courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat : in the U. S. sloop-of-war Peacock ... during the years 1832-3-4 (Digital ed.). Harper & brothers. Retrieved March 29, 2012. Connected with this department is that of the Farang-khromma-tha," Frank (or European) commercial board
  3. ^ Eromosele, Diana Ozemebhoya. Being Black in Thailand: We're Treated Better Than Africans, and Boy Do We Hate It. The Root. Pg1 2015-05-26. URL: Accessed: 2015-05-26. (Archived by WebCite® at
  4. ^ Eromosele, Diana Ozemebhoya. Being Black in Thailand: We're Treated Better Than Africans, and Boy Do We Hate It. The Root. Pg2 2015-05-26. URL:"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-05-29. Retrieved 2015-05-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). Accessed: 2015-05-26. (Archived by WebCite®
  5. ^ Karl Jahn (ed.) Histoire Universelle de Rasid al-Din Fadl Allah Abul=Khair: I. Histoire des Francs (Texte Persan avec traduction et annotations), Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1951. (Source: M. Ashtiany)
  6. ^ Hasan Osmany, Shireen. "Chittagong City". Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  7. ^ Bangladesh Channel Services. "Explore the wonders of Chittagong in Bangladesh". Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  8. ^ Royal House of Hilaaly-Huraa
  9. ^ "ฝรั่ง คืออะไร แปลภาษา แปลว่า หมายถึง (พจนานุกรมไทย-ไทย อ.เปลื้อง ณ นคร)". Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  10. ^ "ฝรั่งขี้นก คืออะไร แปลภาษา แปลว่า หมายถึง (พจนานุกรมไทย-ไทย ราชบัณฑิตยสถาน)". Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  11. ^ "Isaan Dialect". SiamSmile. Dec 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2009. SEE-DA สีดา BAK-SEE-DA บักสีดา or MAHK-SEE-DA หมากสีดา. Guava fruit; Foreigner (white, Western.) BAK is ISAAN for mister; SEE-DA สีดา, BAK-SEE-DA and MAHK-SEE-DA are Isaan for the Guava fruit.

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