Farang (فرنگ) is a Persian and southeast Asian word that refers to the Franks, a major Germanic tribe that controlled large parts of western Europe. The word "Farang" is a cognate and originates from old french: "franc".

Depiction of farang as a stone guard at Wat Pho in Bangkok; circa 1824–1851

Frankish societies emerged in the middle east, and some Franks traveled to south Asia and southeast Asia, resulting in some Frankish traditions. Foreign words started emerging in these environments. During the crusades, Frankish control was extended further in the Middle East, unlike previous Franks, these Franks were almost all christian as appose to older Franks were a mixed group different of religions. As time past the word "Frank" began being used for more and more generic purpose. In 12th century, the term Frank became associated with all of Western Europeans (including the French, Italians, and the Flemish.) in the Muslim world. Frangistan (Persian: فرنگستان‎) was a term used by Thai and Muslims and was also used frequently by Persians. Muslim traders referred to all European traders as Farang and it entered much of the languages of South Asia and Southeast Asia as a term.

Farang (Thai: ฝรั่ง, [faràŋ], colloquially [falàŋ]) is a generic Thai scorn word for white people 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] The term is also blended into everyday terms meaning "of/from the white race" such as: man farang (Thai: มันฝรั่ง; "farang yam") meaning potato, no mai farang (Thai: หน่อไม้ฝรั่ง; "farang shoot") meaning asparagus, and achan farang (Thai: อาจารย์ฝรั่ง; "farang professor") which is the nickname of the influential figure in Thai art history, Italian art professor Silpa Bhirasri.[1] The word also means guava in Thai.

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


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 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 khi nok (Thai: ฝรั่งขี้นก) is slang commonly used as an insult to a person of white race, equivalent to white trash. The term means "bird-droppings Farang", as khi means feces, nok means bird, this refer bird-droppings is white color.[10]

Çaise-Farang (Thai: เศษฝรั่ง, Çaise is Thai word mean fragment/trash; is swap position from française) is commonly used as an insult to a French ethnic.[11]

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.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b 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 (1837) [First published in 1837]. "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:http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2015/05/black_in_thailand_we_re_treated_better_than_africans_and_boy_do_we_hate.html. Accessed: 2015-05-26. (Archived by WebCite® at https://www.webcitation.org/6YpQxWRbF?url=http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2015/05/black_in_thailand_we_re_treated_better_than_africans_and_boy_do_we_hate.html
  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® https://www.webcitation.org/6ko4mdWq6?url=http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2015/05/black_in_thailand_we_re_treated_better_than_africans_and_boy_do_we_hate/2/
  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)". dictionary.sanook.com. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  10. ^ "ฝรั่งขี้นก คืออะไร แปลภาษา แปลว่า หมายถึง (พจนานุกรมไทย-ไทย ราชบัณฑิตยสถาน)". dictionary.sanook.com. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  11. ^ https://th.uncyclopedia.info/wiki/ประเทศเศษฝรั่ง
  12. ^ "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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