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Poll: Do you know of any words in English that have been borrowed from your (working) language(s)?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 11:52
Jul 1, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you know of any words in English that have been borrowed from your (working) language(s)?".

This poll was originally submitted by John Cutler

View the poll here

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[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-07-01 12:43 GMT]


Michael Powers (PhD)  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:52
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Spanish as the etymology of many words in American English Jul 1, 2009

There are many words in American English that come via Spanish (Mexico) for obvious historical reasons. Among these words is the word "sombrero" which, unlike Spanish where it simply means "hat", it actually means a large brimmed stereotypical Mexican hat. Another word that has had semantic shift is "barrio" which in Spanish simply means "neighborhood" without any connotations as to the wealth of the individuals, whereas in American English a "barrio" connotes a poor, Hispanic neighborhood.


Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:52
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
English words borrowed from Dutch Jul 1, 2009

You'll find dozens of them at



Amy Duncan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:52
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Likewise from Portuguese Jul 1, 2009


Virginia Bonaparte
Local time: 16:52
English to Spanish
English words from Spanish origin Jul 1, 2009

Very interesting article.

Have a nice dayicon_smile.gif


Andrea Jarmuschewski  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:52
Member (2007)
French to German
+ ...
And of German... Jul 1, 2009


Carla Sordina  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:52
English to Italian
and Italian too Jul 1, 2009

please see


Milan Djukić  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:52
English to Serbian
+ ...
Vampire from Serbian Jul 1, 2009

It is almost taken for granted that only word from Serbian existing in many other languages worldwide is vampire (vampir or вампир).


Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:52
English to Japanese
+ ...
and in Japanese Jul 1, 2009


Theo Bernards (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:52
English to Dutch
+ ...
Odd one: wisdom tooth Jul 1, 2009

Gerard de Noord wrote:

You'll find dozens of them at


Here was I, thinking that only we Dutch import words from other languagesicon_biggrin.gif. To stray a little off-topic: a peculiar word in the English language is 'wisdom tooth'. It is a mistranslation from 'verstandskies': in the original Dutch meaning 'verstand' is how we Dutch name something standing very far away, but we also name the inner workings of our brain 'verstand', which can be translated as 'wisdom' which is imho not the best translation. The correct translation for 'verstandskies' is something in the line of 'far-standing tooth' (please don't quote me on that, because I am sure there is a more accurate translation, but for the purpose of my contribution to this poll this is sufficient ). Funnily enough the mistranslation happens in at least one other language (French has 'dent de sagesse') and I suspect there are more languages which have copied the mistranslation of 'verstandskies'. Could it be because dental sciences were developed in The Netherlands or maybe Flanders? I don't know. Anyway, I am always on the lookout for such oddities in the field of languages, so if anybody knows one, please let me know, together with a brief explanation. I might even be able to compile a list of such words, with a little background information for each term.[Edited at 2009-07-01 13:14 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-07-01 13:15 GMT]


Egil Presttun  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:52
English to Norwegian
The Norwegian word FJORD Jul 1, 2009

This is how it looks:


Zamira B.  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:52
English to Uzbek
+ ...
Russian and Turkic/Arabic Jul 1, 2009

I recently discovered 'bolshie' (from 'bolshevik') meaning 'stubborn'. I was quite amazed when I saw 'a bolshie teenager' in a British newspaper.

and 'kismet' for 'fate' and 'balaclava' from Turkic languages.

This is all I can think of at the moment (apart from well known 'balalaika' and 'perestroika' things).

[Edited at 2009-07-01 19:15 GMT]


Catriona Thomas
Local time: 20:52
German to English
German Jul 1, 2009

Particularly prevalent:

and for a while the unbeatable "four-spring duck technique" = "Vorsprung durch technik"(!!)



Dmitrie Highduke  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:52
Member (2008)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Ukrainian origin Jul 1, 2009

* Borscht (Ukrainian borshch), beet soup, also the expression "cheap like borscht"
* Cossack (Ukrainian Kozak), a freedom-loving horseman of the steppes
* Hetman, a Cossack military leader
* Kasha, porridge
* Kubasa, kolbassa (Canadian English, from Ukrainian kovbasa), garlic sausage. Also kubie, kubie burger
* Paska (Canadian English), a decorated Easter bread, also paskha or pashka, a rich dessert with curd cheese and dried fruit
* Perogy, plural perogies (North American, Ukrainian singular pyrih, plural pyrohy), stuffed dumplings or pastry. This comes from western Ukraine, where it is a synonym for varenyky
* Pysanka, a decorated Easter egg
* Steppe, a flat, treeless plain


The list shows that the Ukrainians are hearty eaters...

[Edited at 2009-07-01 13:29 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-07-01 13:29 GMT]


Cristina Heraud-van Tol  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:52
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes Jul 1, 2009

I can think of some:


- piñata
- salsa (both the sauce and the music)
- macho (means simply "male" in Spanish)
- mosquito
- siesta


- bureau
- questionnaire
- rendez-vous
- endeavour

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Poll: Do you know of any words in English that have been borrowed from your (working) language(s)?

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