List of English Words of Foreign Origin

, Staff Writer
Updated November 20, 2020
English words of foreign origin
    english words of foreign origin
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A full list of English words of foreign origin would be quite lengthy, since English borrows from many languages. However, there are a number of notable and interesting English words that have their roots in languages from all over the world.

List of English Words of Foreign Origin: Notable Examples

This list of English words of foreign origin includes some notable surprises from a number of languages.

  • Africa - banana, jumbo, yam, zebra
  • China - ketchup, pekoe, shanghai
  • France - catalogue, essence, gourmet, justice, massage, perfume, regret, terror
  • Japan - anime, karaoke, tycoon, hibachi, sushi
  • Norway - fjord, krill, ski, slalom
  • Philippines - boondocks, manila, ylang ylang (a flower)
  • Wales - corgi (dog), crag, penguin

More English Words From Other Languages

Each language has made its contribution to English in the form of unique words. Here are a few languages that stand out for their influence on English.

English Words of Latin Origin

Although Latin is a dead language, there are many English words with Latin roots. These include Latin-based adjectives, phrases and others.

  • et cetera - and others, commonly abbreviated “etc”
  • extra - in addition
  • sinister - wrong or evil

English Words of Italian Origin

Italian, which as a Romance language takes its roots in Latin, has also made some direct contributions to English.

  • 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

Many English words come from Spanish as well. Here are some examples.

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

English Words of Yiddish Origin

Several Yiddish words have made their way into the English language. These are a few of them.

  • bagel - ring-shaped roll of bread
  • spiel - a long story or persuasive speech
  • klutz - someone who is uncoordinated

English Words of German Origin

English has very strong German roots. There are thousands of English words of German origin, but these are a few notable ones.

  • 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 Hindi or Urdu Origin

You might be surprised to learn that a list of words with foreign origin includes several Hindi or Urdu words. These are a few notable ones.

  • calico - cotton patterned cloth, named for the city Calicut
  • cashmere - an especially soft fiber made from the wool of a goat
  • khaki - a tan color, especially in a cotton fabric

English Words of Japanese Origin

Some very common English words actually come from Japan. These are a few you may know.

  • 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

English Words of Russian Origin

Any foreign words in English list includes a number of Russian words. Although Russian and English are very different languages, several Russian words have made their way into common English usage.

  • balaclava - a hat that covers the face except for the eyes
  • kefir - a fermented dairy drink
  • mammoth - an extinct animal that was related to an elephant

Other Interesting Words in English

There are many interesting or unusual words in the English language. There are also some unique ways of looking at them.

  • “Queueing” is the only word with five vowels in a row.
  • “Iouea” contains all vowels and is a sea sponge.
  • “Fashion” and “cushion” are the only words that end with "shion."
  • “Suspicion,” “scion” and “coercion” are the only words that end in "cion.”
  • Having all vowels in order or reverse order are: abstemious, facetious, unnoticeably, subcontinental, and uncomplimentary.
  • These words have six consonants consecutively: catchphrase, latchstring, sightscreen, watchspring, and watchstrap.
  • These words all have more than one doubled letter: addressee, balloon, bookkeeper, coffee, committee, keenness, roommate, and succeed.

English Borrows From Other Languages and Itself

There are many foreign words used in English and foreign words that have been changed slightly to become English words. For example, explore English words of Aztec origin. However, while English borrows thousands of words from languages around the world, it also has its origins in itself. For a deeper understanding, review some Old English words used in modern English.