Sanskrit – Polysemous Words (Enormous Range of Meanings)

Sanskrit Polysemous Words written on a wall
Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages (if not the oldest) on earth. It has a recorded history of approximately 3500 years (this is just what is written; oral Sanskrit goes way further back!), and it still manages to become very relevant to this date due to its incredible richness and immense capabilities.
Sanskrit words have an ENORMOUS range of meanings. These types of words are usually called polysemous words.
To give a random example, take the word kālakā कालका , which basically means ‘black or dark blue color’, or thus anything dark in general, but is at various times used to refer to the following:
  1. Ink or blacking;
  2. A dark spot;
  3. Rust;
  4. A fault or flaw in gold;
  5. Change of complexion;
  6. The liver;
  7. A particular blood-vessel in the ear;
  8. The line of hair extending from the pudenda to the navel;
  9. A multitude of cloud;
  10. Snow;
  11. Fog;
  12. The female of the bird Angārak;
  13. A female crow;
  14. The female of the bird Turdus macrourus;
  15. A scorpion;
  16. A small worm or animalcule formed by the fermentation of milk;
  17. Name of several plants;
  18. A kind of fragrant earth;
  19. A name or form of Durgā;
  20. A girl of four years old who personates the goddess Durgā at a festival held in honour of that deity;
  21. A kind of female genius;
  22. One of the mothers in Skanda's retinue, name of various other characters’
Not only are Sanskrit words so polysemous (they have so many meanings!), but we also get considerable numbers of words or expressions for one and the same thing.
Sanskrit is one of the richest and more intricate languages in the world, and one quality that makes it so is that very often there is a vast number of synonyms that allude to the same concept or idea. Here are some other examples: The word "elephant" has about a hundred synonyms in Sanskrit; and English has only one word for "love" while Sanskrit has 96!
Another fun fact about Sanskrit is that according to NASA it is "the only unambiguous language in the world", meaning that it is the only language that is not open to more than one interpretation of something. Due to the great intricacy of sentence-forming, when having to interpret a sentence these have only one possible meaning. On the contrary, with all other languages the context, the tone in which you pronounce a sentence, and your body language are key factors to decode the underlying message; it is not so with Sanskrit.
So complex and yet interesting at the same time, right?
Related Reading: 108 Names of Dhanvantri (Astotram)


Dictionary source for कालका : Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary, 1899.
What is one of your favourite Sanskrit words? Comment 👇