English is known to be one of the happiest languages in the world; spoken by more than 1/4th of the global population. Do you know that the structure we use in the language is from the Germanic language? On top of that, its vocabulary comes from many languages and cultures. In fact, of the 1000 most commonly used words, almost fifty percent have French origins.
Check out our list of common words with foreign origins borrowed by the English language.
This common English word originated from the Latin “Persona”. It was first adopted by the French language before making its way into English.
Definition: a human being regarded as an individual.
Sample Sentence: The porter was the last person to see her.
A: Have you heard the local news today?
B: Sorry. I’m not really updated with the current affairs nowadays.
A: Yeah, you’re such a busy bee.
B: Anyway, what is the news you wanted to tell me?
A: Oh, a mysterious person was seen lurking around the streets near your office. So, I just wanted to tell you to be careful. As much as possible, don’t go out alone.
B: Thank you so much for informing me.
This common English word originated from the Hindi “Loot”. It is pronounced and defined the same way.
Definition: steal goods from (a place), typically during a war or riot.
Sample Sentence: Desperate residents looted shops for food and water.
A: Sorry to interrupt but what are you reading?
B: I’m reading an article about the South Africa Zuma riots that happened a year ago.
A: What about it? After former President Jacob Zuma was sent to jail, violence continues across the country. Shopping centers were set alight after being looted.
B: That sounded terrible.
A: It was.
This English word originated from the German “Wanderlust” and was borrowed in 1902.
Definition: strong desire to travel.
Sample Sentence: Wanderlust has led him to many different parts of the world.
A: The house next door sounds awfully quiet recently.
B: How’d you say so?
A: Well, at this time, Mrs. Wilson usually plays jazz music using her loudspeakers.
B: Haven’t you heard? She’s on a three-week European tour.
A: Since when?
B: She left on Monday. She said her wanderlust grew stronger after being grounded by the coronavirus pandemic.
A: Perhaps we should have a vacation, too.
from Dutch “koekje” meaning little cake.
Definition: a small sweet cake, typically round and flat and having a crisp or chewy texture.
Sample Sentence: My Mom’s freshly baked cookies are the best.
A: Mr. and Mrs. Chase invited us to attend their son’s birthday party.
A: This coming Saturday.
B: Then let’s bring something for them.
A: How about some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies?
B: That sounds great.
from Italian “carton” which was first referred to as a drawing on hard paper. It was then changed into its comical representation in 1843.
Definition: a simple drawing showing the features of its subjects in a humorously exaggerated way, especially a satirical one in a newspaper or magazine; a motion picture using animation techniques to photograph a sequence of drawings rather than real people or objects.
Sample Sentence: The minister faced a welter of hostile headlines and mocking cartoons.
A: How was your weekend?
A: Oh, what did you do?
B: I helped my Dad fix his car. How about you?
A: My weekend is fine. I just stayed home and watched a rerun of the Yogi Bear cartoons on TV with my sister. It was too hot outside.
B: That sounds better than mine. Do you want to go swimming next weekend?
A: That’s a great idea.
from Italian “anōnumos” which is defined as something or someone without a name.
Definition: (of a person) not identified by name; of unknown name.
Sample Sentence: An anonymous buyer purchased the painting.
A: Tanya will be undergoing her heart transplant operation the day after tomorrow.
B: How did they collect enough money to pay for the surgery?
A: Based on what I’ve heard, an anonymous person donated a large sum of money.
B: And how did this anonymous donor hear about Tanya’s case?
A: I guess through the social media drive.
B: I’m glad there are still kind people in the world.
from Tagalog “bundok” which literally means ‘mountain’.
Definition: rough, remote, or isolated country.
Sample Sentence: We’re out here in the boondocks, miles from a telephone.
A: How was your trip?
B: It was interesting. I used to travel to big cities and it’s my first time going to the boondocks.
A: That’s new.
B: I know, right? It was peaceful and I felt like time has stopped since the internet connection can just be accessed after miles of travel.
A: No, internet access? That sounds boring.
B: It can be but I enjoyed talking to the local people. And there were a lot of activities to do.
English is indeed a huge melting pot of linguistic ingredients from diverse cultures. So, next time you encounter a word in English which is somehow familiar. It may be derived from your own culture.