Common English Words That Came from Other Languages

The below mentioned words derived from other languages

1. Ballet (From French)

This is a form of dance that is popular throughout much of the world. Because this dancing style developed in France.

2. Café (From French)

In English, this is the name for a small, usually informal restaurant. It often has small tables, and sometimes there are also tables outside. It is written both with the accent mark (“café”) and without it (“cafe”) in English.

“Cafe” comes from the French word for “coffee,” but it’s also very similar to other words related to coffee in many other languages. Usually, cafes do serve coffee. But if a place only serves coffee (and not any food), then it’s normally called a “coffee shop.”

3. Croissant (From French)

A croissant is a type of pastry or bread that is light and flaky. “Flaky” means the croissant leaves lots of little crumbs on your plate when you eat it.

A similar type of bread in English is a “crescent roll.” “Roll” is the name of a small piece of bread.

4. Entrepreneur (From French) 

This is definitely a word that you should hear pronounced since it can be a little tricky even for native English speakers.

An entrepreneur is a person who starts their own company. Other common forms of the word include “entrepreneurship” (a noun) or “entrepreneurial” (an adjective).

5. Faux pas (From French)

This phrase describes making a social mistake. If you make a faux pas, then the mistake usually isn’t very big and doesn’t hurt anyone physically, but it can make people uncomfortable.

6. Genre (From French)

In French, this word means “kind” or “style.” In English, it’s used to describe a category of something, especially when talking about entertainment. You’ll especially hear people using this word to talk about books, movies, and music.

7. Hors d’oeuvre (From French)

These are small bits of food that are served at special events, usually parties. They’re very similar to appetizers, but appetizers are usually served before a larger meal.

8. Lingerie (From French)

This is used to describe women’s underwear or sleepwear that is usually sexy or special in some way.

9. Renaissance (From French)

In French, this means “rebirth,” but in English, it is often used to describe the historical period between 1300 and 1600 when art and science developed a lot.

It can also be used to describe any time a person, company or country starts becoming popular again after a difficult period of time.

10. Rendezvous (From French)

In English, this word is used to describe either a place where people plan to meet or the action of meeting a person at a specific time.

11. Delicatessen (From German)

A delicatessen (abbreviated “deli”) is an informal restaurant where you can get sandwiches, coffee, and other small foods. This comes from the German word Delikatessen, which means “fine/fancy foods,” but in English, it just describes the place where you can buy those foods.

12. Fest (From German)

A fest is any kind of party, celebration or festival. In both English and German, it’s commonly used as a suffix (a word part added to the end of a word), and the most common one is Oktoberfest.

13. Gesundheit (From German)

Believe it or not, English speakers use this word! In German, this word means “health.” Especially in the United States, people often say “Gesundheit!” as a response when someone sneezes (others often say “bless you”).

This is probably more common in the US because more German immigrants moved to the US in the last 200 years than to the UK.

14. Kindergarten (From German)

Translated literally, this word means “children’s garden.” It’s a common type of school in many parts of the world. Children often go to a year or two of kindergarten when they’re 5 years old before they start elementary school.

15. Waltz (From German)

A waltz is a type of formal dance. The word is also used to describe the type of music that plays during those dances, and it can also be used as a verb to describe the action of dancing this dance.

16. Rucksack (From German)

A rucksack is another name for a backpack. “Ruck” comes from the German word Rücken (back) and Sack means either “bag” or, as you probably guessed, “sack.”

17. Glitch (From German)

A glitch describes a small problem, but usually, it’s a problem that doesn’t make it impossible to finish something.

18. Klutz (From German)

klutz is a person who is very uncoordinated or clumsy. In other words, klutzes often have accidents and break things.

19. Spiel (From German)

In Yiddish (and German), this word can mean “play,” but in English, it’s used to describe a quick speech or story which has usually been said/told many times. Often the spiel tries to convince you of something.

20. Schmooze (From German)

This is a verb that means to talk with someone in a very friendly way, often to gain some benefit for yourself.

21. Guerrilla (From Spanish)

In Spanish, this word literally means “little war.” In both Spanish and English, it can be used to describe an unofficial group of people fighting the government. In English, it’s most commonly used as an adjective, in phrases like “guerrilla warfare” or “guerrilla marketing.”

22. Macho (From Spanish)

This word describes a person who is very strong or masculine. It can also be used to describe a person who is arrogant about his manhood.

23. Patio (From Spanish)

In English, “patio” generally describes an area outside a house that often has a table and chairs, but no roof.

24. Plaza (From Spanish)

A plaza describes a public open area in a city, which can sometimes be called a “square.”

“Plaza” is also used in the names of many shopping malls, corporate building areas or other large open areas.

25. Piñata (From Spanish)

This is a happy word that describes a toy that is filled with candy. At parties, children take turns trying to break it open with a stick so the candy will fall out.

26. Siesta (From Spanish)

A siesta is another name for “nap,” but it’s generally a nap that one takes in the middle of the day, especially after eating or while taking a break from work.

27.Chocolate (From Spanish)

This came to English after passing through Spanish, but originally it was xocolatl in the Nahuatl language of modern-day Mexico. 

28. Karaoke (From Japanese)

You probably know what karaoke is. It’s when you sing along with the tune of a popular song while reading the lyrics from a screen. There are karaoke bars in many countries, including the US and the UK, but it’s most commonly associated with Japan.

29. Karate (From Japanese)

Like karaoke, you probably recognize this word. It describes a popular martial art that originated in Japan. There, the word “karate” means “empty hand,” since you don’t need any special equipment or weapons to do it.

30. Ninja (From Japanese)

This word means “spy” in Japanese, but in English, it’s used to describe a person who can move and attack silently, without being seen. People also associate ninjas with fighters who wear masks and all-black clothing, even though that may not be historically true.

31. Origami (From Japanese)

Origami is the art of folding small pieces of paper in order to form them into interesting shapes. Some origami can be really detailed and incredible!

32. Tsunami(From Japanese)

This is a gigantic (very large) sea wave that is usually caused by an earthquake.

33. Dim sum (From Chinese)

Dim sum is a style of food that’s common in southern China (specifically in and near Hong Kong). So it’s actually from the Cantonese dialect of Chinese.

The word originally meant “touch your heart,” but now it’s just used to describe a meal in a restaurant where the guests have many choices of small dishes of food. Many of the foods are steamed in bamboo baskets, and there are also other dishes like soup and fried bread.

34. Gung-ho (From Chinese)

In Chinese this phrase means “work together,” but in English it’s used casually to express that you’re excited or enthusiastic about something. We generally use it as an adjective.

35. Kung fu (From Chinese)

Kung fu is another popular style of martial arts. In kung fu, generally, fighters only use their hands and feet, but not weapons. It has been featured in countless movies, TV shows, books and songs in English.

36. Tofu (From Chinese)

This is a word that originally started in Chinese (as “dou fu“). But before it was adopted into English, it passed through Japanese and became “tofu.”

In Chinese, “dou” means “bean” and “fu” means “rotten” or “sour.” It sounds gross when you put it that way, but it can actually be pretty tasty! If you’ve not tried it, you should.

37. Typhoon (From Chinese)

The origin of this word is actually complicated, but some say it was reinforced by the Chinese word “taifeng,” which means “big wind.” There were also some possible influences from other languages like Greek, Arabic and Portuguese!

A typhoon is just another name for a hurricane or a cyclone. If it’s in the Pacific Ocean near Asia, it’s called a typhoon. 

38. Yin and yang (From Chinese)

In Chinese, yin represents feminine, dark and night time, while yang represents the opposite: masculine, light and daytime things. In English, these words are used to represent any opposites.

39. Babushka (from Russian)

In Russian, this word means “grandmother,” but in English it usually refers to a scarf or head covering that you might imagine an old Russian woman wearing.

So if a girl or woman wears a scarf to keep her head warm, sometimes people jokingly call her a “babushka.”

40. Bossa nova (from Portuguese)

There are many Portuguese loanwords in English. Bossa nova, which means “new wave” in Brazilian Portuguese, is one of my favorites. It describes a kind of relaxing music from Brazil

41. Moped (from Swedish)

“Moped” (pronounced with two syllables: “mo-ped”) is a combination of the Swedish words “motor” and “pedaler.” Those words are nearly the same as their English equivalents “motor” and “pedals.”

It’s basically a bicycle with a motor. Many people call scooters or small motorcycles “mopeds,” but that’s not technically correct.

42. Paparazzi (from Italian)

“Paparazzi” is actually the plural form of the Italian word paparazzo. It’s used in English to describe a photographer or a group of photographers who take pictures of celebrities. Then they sell photos to magazines or newspapers.

They’re not a very popular profession, as they take away celebrities’ privacy, but they were the subject of a popular song a few years ago.

43. Sheikh (from Arabic)

A sheikh is a ruler or leader of a group of people in Arab cultures. It’s used in English as a title for rulers in some countries, instead of words like “king” or “president.”

44. Taekwondo (from Korean)

For our final word, we’ll look at another martial arts term. In Korean, “taekwondo” means “kick fist art” (pretty cool, right?!) and in English, it’s used to describe that popular martial art.

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