hookah vs shisha: How different countries use each terms

  • Hookah: This is the term commonly used in many countries to refer to the water pipe itself. It has a bowl, a body, a water base, and a flexible hose with a mouthpiece. The term is believed to have originated from the Hindi word “huqqa.”
  • Shisha: In many places, “shisha” refers to the flavored tobacco used in the hookah. However, in some regions, “shisha” can also mean the hookah device itself. The word “shisha” comes from the Persian word shishe, meaning glass. More detailed explaination on shisha can be read here.
  • These devices complement with accessories such as the shisha charcoal and shisha heat management device in order to truly elevate the smoking sessions.

summary on terms used for different countries

Country/AreaTerm for the DeviceTerm for the Tobacco
United StatesHookahShisha
United KingdomShisha or HookahShisha
Middle EastShisha or ArgilehMaassel or Mu’assel
IndiaHookahHookah Tobacco
AustraliaHookah or ShishaShisha
South AfricaHookah or HubblyHubbly Tobacco
FranceChichaTabac à Chicha
BrazilNarguiléFumo de Narguilé

In Iran, the hookah is known as a ḡalyān (Persian: قليان, قالیون, غلیون, also spelled ghalyan, ghalyaan or ghelyoon). Hookah (called chillum or huqqa in Pakistan) is the most common way to consume tobacco among elderly in lower socio-economic and rural people in Pakistan. In the Philippines, hookah use was more or less traditionally confined to the minority Arab Filipino and Indian Filipino communities. In South Africa, hookah, colloquially known as a hubbly bubbly or an okka pipe, is popular. Muʽassel (Arabic: معسل, meaning "honeyed"), or maassel, is a syrupy tobacco mix containing molasses, vegetable glycerol and various flavourings which is smoked in a hookah, a type of waterpipe. It is also known as "shisha".[1]


Notes on Terms:

  • Turkey: “Nargile” is the common term for the water pipe, and “Tütün” specifically refers to the tobacco.
  • Russia: “Kal’yan” is used for the device, and “Tabak” for the tobacco.
  • Germany: “Shisha” is used for both the device and the tobacco, but the tobacco is sometimes specifically referred to as “Wasserpfeifentabak.”
  • South Africa: The term “Hubbly” or “Hubbly Bubbly” is colloquially used alongside “hookah” for the device; “Hubbly Tobacco” for the tobacco.
  • France: “Chicha” is the term used for both the water pipe and the tobacco (often referred to as “Tabac à Chicha”).
  • Brazil: “Narguilé” refers to the device, and “Fumo de Narguilé” to the tobacco.
  • UAE and Lebanon: “Shisha” or “Argileh” is used for the device and “Maassel” for the tobacco.


  1. wikipedia