"self-cremation of a Hindu widow on her husband's funeral pyre," 1786, from Hindi, from Sanskrit sati "virtuous woman, faithful wife," used also of the burning, fem. of sat "good, wise, virtuous, true," literally "existing," present participle of asmi "I am" (from PIE root *es- "to be"). Properly, the word for the woman who does so. The custom was abolished in British India in 1829.
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