Origins and related words One theory of the word's origin derives it from farangset, the Thai pronunciation of français, the French word for 'French' or 'Frenchman'. France was one of the first European nations to establish cultural ties with Thailand in the 17th century, so to Thais at that time, 'white man' and 'Frenchman' were synonymous. However, the Portuguese, Dutch and others arrived long before the French, which makes that origin unlikely. A few others have suggested that in the Ayutthaya period, land was given to the Portuguese merchants to conduct their business at "Baan Farang" (Guava Village).
A more common etymology which explains why many other Southern Asian and Southeast Asian languages use the word, has to do with the French but in a more indirect way, saying it derives from the earlier Persian word farangi, which refers to foreigners. This in turn comes from the word "frank" via the Arabic word firinjia, which was used refer to the Franks (French) in the Middle Ages. The French were later the first European nation that helped the Ghajar Kings modernize the Iranian government, in particular with the establishment of customs, in Persian: gomrok. Long before English, and until about the 1960s, French was the foreign language of choice for educated Iranians. The abundance of French words in the Persian language attests to this fact.
By another account the word comes through Arabic ("Afrandj"), and there are quite a few articles about this. One of the most detailed treatments of the subject is by Rashid al-din Fazl Allâh.
Farang is closely related to the Khmer word Barang.
In Tamil, the word that refers to Europeans (most specifically to the British) is parangiar, presumably because Tamil does not have the "F" sound. Many South Asian and Southeast Asian languages, including Hindi-Urdu and Malay, also use this word to denote foreigners.