Chilantu (pronounced as Chiluntu) is a composite word derived from Chillar + Ubuntu.

Chillar [Hindi] means loose change, like a few cents you throw away at a hopeless beggar in the corner of the street not out of mercy or sympathy but just to get rid of the loose weight of the cents in your purse while retaining only the dollars. In local business markets Chillar is commonly used to refer to small fractional bill amounts which are either rounded down or rounded up.

Ubuntu is the name of a very popular distribution of Linux operating system. It's open source and free of cost as in free beer. Ubuntu is an stubborn OS of choice for many geeks who despise Microsoft Windows.

In local Hindi slang Chilantu refers to a person who is a geek implying he is assumed to have very deep advanced knowledge about some unknown obscure field of study; although being Chilantu also states that he would be considered a fool in his daily activities without using any iota of his knowledge and not producing any result. For example, consider a Ph.D scholar who has not yet completed his thesis in spite of working over it for a decade and he is a poor sick homeless jerk whose wife has also deserted him (pun intended). Such a person is called Chilantu who in spite of such high degree and skill is socially worthless and is often discarded as useless by taxpayers.

I hope I was able to convey the meaning of Chilantu correctly. What is the equivalent word in English having the same meaning?

  • There may be no exact word in English to capture your meaning. Which aspects of this person are the most important to you to represent so that we might choose an English word that is close but not exactly the same? Adding an example sentence of how you would like to use the word might help inspire some answers.
    – ColleenV
    Sep 11, 2018 at 14:04

3 Answers 3


Chilantu is a portmanteau word that has such a specific heritage and meaning, I doubt there is an equivalent in English. The words "pedant" and "loser" come to mind, but fall short of your complex definition.

I suggest "chilantu" is a neologism that can also exist in English and serve its derogatory purpose there.

(nb - "whose wife has deserted him")

  • Can you explain in some simpler terms for laymen non-native English speakers. I'm surprised that English literature with such countless books has no word resembling such a character.
    – manav m-n
    Sep 8, 2018 at 14:48
  • 3
    You take 3 paragraphs to explain a word with subtle, culture-specific connotations, a word furthermore that is a portmanteau derived from a word with it's meaning in computing originating in 2004, and then are surprised that we have no single word in English for this? For the record I also disagree with your use of the word stubborn to decribe users of Ubuntu, but then maybe that substantiate's your point!
    – djna
    Sep 8, 2018 at 14:59
  • @djna: The expression that came to mind for me when reading the question was dehumanising bigotry (an attribute of the OP, not the term he seeks). Irrelevant sideswipes at Ubuntu users are just part of the rough & tumble between fans of different OSes, but asking for more derogatory terms to heap upon some poor guy who's already lost everything (health, job, home, family,...) doesn't really strike me as the sort of thing we'd want to encourage here on ELL. Sep 8, 2018 at 15:40
  • @FumbleFingers Forgive me, but if I say Donald Trump is a Chilantu, would that be the correct usage of the word?
    – manav m-n
    Sep 9, 2018 at 20:46
  • @manav m-n: It might be "correct" in India (assuming many/most people would understand the usage; I've no idea about that), but it wouldn't really be correct anywhere else because it's not a known valid English word. However, as Manalto correctly points out, there's nothing to stop you introducing it as a neologism. Though obviously if your audience don't even know Hindi in the first place, you'd have to define the term for them on first use, since I don't think they'd have any chance of finding it in a dictionary. Sep 10, 2018 at 12:42

Probably the closest is dilettante

dilettante (n): A person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.

This is not an exact match, because saying someone is a dilettante suggests they don't study something seriously. It can still work in context:

My brother is a kind of dilettante who has earned every degree imaginable in his chosen field, but never held an actual job doing it.

As a phrase, an English speaker would be more likely to say the person has wasted his life.

My brother has earned every degree imaginable in his chosen field but he's never had a job doing it. He's just wasted his life.

Although, this expression can apply to any significant lack of achievement. For example, in this Simpsons episode (from "Treehouse of Horror", a set of Halloween-related skits that aren't meant to be part of the main story), a nuclear missile heads towards Springfield. One of the minor characters in the series is Comic Book Guy (who knows everything about anything related to comics and who enjoys mentioning trivia and pointing out minor mistakes to anyone who will listen)

% Meanwhile, the Comic Book Guy is walking along the sidewalk eating a
% hotdog and reading an issue of "Aquaman".

(Dramatic) But Aquaman, you cannot marry a woman without gills. You're from two different worlds! (the missile closes in on him) Oohh, I've wasted my life...

video clip of this scene


A nerd also nurd - A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.


1 = bore, obsessive, anorak (informal), geek (informal), trainspotter (informal), dork (slang), wonk (informal), techie (informal) ▪ the outdated notion that users of the Internet are all sad computer nerds

2 = fool, weed, drip (informal), sap (slang), wally (slang), sucker (slang), wimp (informal), booby, prat (slang), plonker (slang), twit (informal chiefly Brit.), simpleton, dipstick (Brit. slang), schmuck (U.S. slang), divvy (Brit. slang), putz (U.S. slang), wuss (slang), eejit (Scot. Irish), thicko (Brit. slang), dumb-ass (slang), doofus (slang chiefly U.S.), dorba or dorb (Austral. slang), bogan (Austral. slang) ▪ No woman in her right mind would look twice at such a charmless little nerd.

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