Words that English Language Borrowed from Foreign Tongues

Sometimes, English words cover much more than just their meaning. They have connection with other languages. Greatpaper.co.uk offers you to look at 15 words that hadn’t been English some time ago. This is how you can learn several languages at a time!

English Words Borrowed


Many people associate the word “ketchup” with a typically American culture. The USA citizens eat almost nothing without ketchup, adding this sauce to any dish. It even sounds like a typical American expression. But in fact, this word appeared in China first. This is the country where people first cooked the dense sauce consistent of fish and spices, not of tomatoes. In Chinese, the word sounded like “kôe-chiap” or “kê-chiap”. If to translate, the expression meant a “marinated fish solution”.


“Genetics” of a word “candy” can’t be tracked surely, because there are at least three languages it could be borrowed from. The first one is French (from the phrase “sucre candi” meaning “lollipop”); second – Persian (“qand” meant “sugar”); the third one is Sanskrit (from the word “khanda” – “sugar”). As you see, there are many versions.


Here is the word one can guess about its origin. You can hear this word in other languages like French and German. It comes from the Italian phrase “All’arme”, which can be translated like “To arms!”. Sounds heroically, doesn’t it?


Another Italian word that found its honorable place in English vocabulary. The word “ballot” is used by Italians meaning “a little ball”. They used these balls to organize elections in Venezia once upon a time, and it all comes since then.


This word, which is similarly used in Spanish and French as well, has Latin origin. It can be translated from Latina as a word meaning “a person to share bread with”.


This word has Persian origin. It comes from an old Persian tale, named “Three Princesses from Serendip”. Serendip was a name of Sri-Lanka for Persians.


The word “cab”, used to describe taxi in Britain, has Italian origin. From Italian, they translate it as “goat” (in Spanish, “goat” sounds like “cabra”). Sounds produced by first cabs while riding, seemed to be a goat fight for people. That is why the name is “cab”.


An English word, coming from a Latin word “elire” - “to choose”. Spanish word “elegir” has the same meaning and the same origin.

Elite English Word


The word husband didn’t have anything to do with marriage status first. It comes from two old German words: “hus” and “bunda” (“house” and “owner”). This was the word to mean house owners. Of course, for that time, such people were thought to be the best marriage partners, so maybe its modern meaning has something to do with history.


Yes, names of months are not original, too. English “October” comes from Latin words “octu(m)” (eight) and “imber” (rain). Why “eight”? Because according to the Roman calendar, a year started in March. Now you know more!


Well, in “parliament”, there can be seen French influence at once. In French, the word “parler” means “to talk”. And what do they usually like to do in parliaments?


The word “queen” comes from a gothic German “qino” and old-English “cwene”. This is how they named a woman during that time.


Comes from French “regretter”, that can be translated like “a cry after the dead”. In English, it started to mean “empathy” and” sorrow” as well.


The word thought out by a Czech science fiction writer Karel Capek. In 1920, he wrote a theatrical scenery named “R.U.R”, where the word “robot” was used for the first time. According to the plot, machines capture the future world, and started creating “robots” from humans who served as workers. So, first meaning of this word was “the worker”.


An English word “travel” comes from a French word “travail” (to work). Why so? The American historicist and Chicago university professor Daniel Burstyn explained this thing next: travels can be connected to working, as in travelling you have to learn language and local traditions, and “tourism” itself does not refer to a work somehow, as it demands nothing.

Now you have 15 English words to wonder your teachers!

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