I was reading Victoria Lomasko’s “In Tbilisi,” an excerpt from her new book Other Russias (out March 7 from n+1), which I’m very much looking forward to, and was struck by this passage:
In the Caucasus, there is a term for correct behavior on the part of the individual in society: namus, in Azerbaijani and Armenian, and namusi in Georgian. For men, namus means honor and conscience. For women, namus is bound up only with their sexual behavior, with their availability to men.
I assumed it was originally Arabic, and so it is, but of course it was transmitted to the Caucasus via Persian, and Platts (A dictionary of Urdu, classical Hindi, and English) has the following entry:
ناموس nāmūs (v.n. fr. نمس ‘to conceal (a secret),’ &c.), s.f. Reputation, fame, renown; esteem, honour, grace, dignity;—disgrace, reproach, shame;—the female part of a family:—nāmus-ě-akbar, ‘The great secretary,’ the angel Gabriel.
Both ‘esteem, honour’ and ‘disgrace, shame’: a classic antonym!