Common English Words from Other Languages:
While you may know that English is sort of a hodgepodge of several different languages, a lot of the words entered the language many years ago. However, there are many modern words that we use every day that are relatively new. Here are some of our favorite examples:
Cartoon – Italian
Cartoon comes directly from the Italian word cartone, which literally means cardboard. However, this word has a more specific meaning of strong, heavy paper, like modern-day pasteboard. Many artists draw their preliminary sketches on this kind of paper!
Metropolis – Greek
Metropolis, or modern Greek μητρόπολης, is a mixture of two modern Greek words, μέτρον [métron] meaning measure and πόλης [pólis] which means city. The suffix πόλης [pólis] is also where we got the English word police, political, policy, etc.
Cookie – Dutch
This uniquely American word has no originality rooted in the English language at all. Cookie comes from the diminutive form of the Dutch word for cake, Koekje. The original word Koek is similar to the modern English equivalent of Cake.
Biscuit – Latin
Biscuit actually comes from the Latin words bis coctum meaning twice baked.
Ketchup – Mandarin
Ketchup derives from the Hakkian Chinese word kê-tsiap, the name for a sauce that originates from Southeastern Asia, sometimes called fish sauce. Hakkian Chinese is the language spoken within the Southeastern corner of China and most of Taiwan
Karaoke – Japanese
Karaoke comes from the Japanese word カラオケ [karaoke]. However, the route of this word comes from kara 空 “empty” and ōkesutora オーケストラ “orchestra. Karaoke roughly translates to an empty orchestra.
Coffee – Arabic
We arrived at the English word coffee through a simple exchange of languages. English speakers borrowed the word from the Dutch word koffie, which was borrowed from the Turkish word kahve, which was borrowed from the original Arabic word قهوة [qahwah].
Entrepreneur – French
Entrepreneur comes from the old French word entreprendre, meaning to do something or to undertake [a business]. This verb is made up of two words entre (between, among) & prendre (to take).
In conclusion, the English language is a product of multiple linguistic influences, and many common English words have their roots in other languages. Some of these words have been used for centuries, while others have entered the language more recently. Learning about the origins of these words not only helps us understand their meanings but also highlights the interconnectedness of different languages and cultures. As we continue to explore languages and expand our vocabulary, we can uncover even more fascinating connections and enrich our understanding of the world around us. If you would like to get started on our language-learning journey, LanguageBird has 15 languages to choose from with instructors from all around the world. Learn more about our one-to-one conversational lessons here.