Saturday, June 22, 2024

Foreign Words And Phrases – Definitions And Examples

In English language, commonly we use most of the foreign words and phrases but we may not recognize them as foreign words and phrases. We can define foreign word as a word taken from another language, pronounced and written as alien, and in English usually printed in italics or a word adopted from another language. There are a lot of words and phrases taken from many other languages. However, there are a number of striking and interesting English words that have their origins in languages from all over the world.

Foreign Words And Phrases

Foreign words are those words that have roots from other language or simply we can define it as a word that is adopted from other language. They are normally written in italics to identify that they are foreign.

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Origin  Of Foreign Words And Phrases

There are lot of words that have been taken from other languages to create the English language. Sometimes we borrow them for trends in food or fashion. For example  spaghetti ,bon voyage, de facto etc… are the most common words that are embedded in our language that we don’t realize them as having a foreign origin. Most of the words in English language are borrowed through war and conquest. As England and other English-speaking countries became involved in wars and conquests, words from the conquered countries were added. Words to describe particular places, events, or actions were introduced to English from German during the period of World War I and World War II. Blitz is one such word. Many of the words that related to law and religion  came from Latin. Latin is the base of the English language, and many of the words used in religion, grammar, and law are Latin.

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  • Latin has been the most important source for the vocabulary of English.
  • As much as 17% of our active word stock is Latin.
  • The first Latin words came to English during contact between the Romans and the Germanic tribes through the adoption of Christianity and the translation of religious and literary texts from Latin into Old English.
  • During the Renaissance, Latin was an active second language for many educated people.
  • Even in modern times, Latin has remained one of the most common sources of borrowing.
  • The borrowing of Latin words and phrases directly into English has traditionally depended on specific contexts—legal, religious, scientific—and as that exposure diminishes, so does the rate of borrowing.

Examples of some of Latin words commonly used in English Language:

Ad hoc specific
Bona Fide in good faith
Impromptu without preparation
Per se of an inherent nature
A Priori rather than experience
Ergo consequently
Pro Rata in equal parts

Today in English language nearly half of the words were originated from French. French words are moved to England and then to America.

  • In Today’s  English vocabulary around 45% of words are French origin.
  • More than Ten Thousand  French words were borrowed during the Middle English period.
  • In 18th and 19th century French was the fundamental language in Europe.
  • Today French words and phrases are often perceived as stylish and educated.

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Examples of some of French words commonly used in English Language:

Au revoir! Goodbye
Bon appétit! Enjoy the meal!
Bon voyage! Have a good trip!
déjà vu a feeling of having seen or experienced the present situation before
en route on the way
cordon bleu of the highest class/quality
carte blanche complete freedom to choose the course of action you think best

The technical vocabulary of medicine is heavily based on Greek roots. The vocabulary of botany and biology are almost entirely based on Latin and Greek.

Some of the common Greek words used in English Language:


acrobat Wire walker
cemetery graveyard
democracy Rule by the people
hermaphrodite Human and animal having both male and female sex organs
marathon A long distance race
melancholy sorrowful
phobia fear
sarcasm bitterness
panic fright

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Russian words have been embedded into English vocabulary during the earlier of 20th century through some historical events.

Some of the common Russian words used in English Language:


Agitprop artistic political propaganda
Bolshevik a revolutionary or radical
Commissar an official
Duma a legislative body
Mammoth a prehistoric mammal
Samovar an urn for heating tea
Sputnik a traveling companion

English Words Of Italian Origin

Italian has also made some direct contributions to English Language. Given below are few notable Italian origin words.

  • alarm – to arms
  • ballot – small pebble or ball, used by people who would vote by casting a pebble into a box
  • cantaloupe – the name of a town in Italy where the melon was grown

English Words Of Spanish Origin

There are so many words came from Spanish also. Here are some notable words:

  • mosquito – a little biting insect
  • patio – a place for sitting outside
  • aficionado – someone who is a fan of something

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English Words Of German Origin

Thousands of English words have a direct root from German. Below are few notable words:

  • angst – a feeling of discontent
  • kindergarten – the earliest grade in school, before first grade
  • hamster – a small rodent, often kept as a pet

English Words Of Japanese Origin

There are some common words in English which has a Japanese root. Few common words used  are given below:

  • emoji – a text or picture representation of emotion
  • haiku – a three-line poem with set rules for syllables
  • tycoon – someone who is wealthy from success in business


Hope the above article will be useful to those who are searching foreign words which is commonly using in English. If you need further guidance please visit our learning platform Entri App which will provide you with sufficient stuffs.

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