39 Responses

  1. Mahnu Uterna
    Mahnu Uterna at |

    "skosh" comes from Japanese, too!

  2. Lou
    Lou at |

    You'd have to be pretty ignorant not to realize "poltergeist" and "confetti" are not originally English words.

    1. Tanya Bennett
      Tanya Bennett at |

      It's interesting to learn the definitions of the original foreign words compared to how we use the word in English. It's also a good topic because I don't think many of us naturally question where our words come from – once you start thinking about it, you realize how often you use words borrowed from other languages.

      I like 'schmooze' (from the German word schmusen, which pretty much means 'cuddling') – adds a new slant on the meaning once you know that, doesn't it?

    2. TopTenz Master
      TopTenz Master at |

      Are you really saying the world isn't full of ignorant people? 😉

      I'll also add pajamas derived from the Persian word "paijama", meaning "leg garmet".

  3. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth at |

    "shampoo" and "cheetah" are words derived from Hindi also.

    1. marx
      marx at |

      I always thought Shampoo came from San Diego from a man called Jonhy Elston who cleaned after the 1st ever whale show

      "hun what did u did at work"

      "one word: Shampoo"

  4. Z
    Z at |

    A lot of English words are derived from other languages

  5. Bluvida
    Bluvida at |

    I love the fact that every word in every language is a potential English word.

    Honcho, as in " Who's the head honcho around here?", is also of Japanese origin.

  6. Lou
    Lou at |

    @ TopTenzMaster:

    NO! No! No . . . . well, yes. LOL

  7. Howie
    Howie at |

    I would like to point out that French, being a Romance language, derives from Latin. So it's kind of like 56% of the 80,000 words are Latin.

  8. Ken in Dublin
    Ken in Dublin at |

    Galore, smithereens, glen, etc… all from the Irish language.


    1. Fatsoap
      Fatsoap at |

      Wrong! It comes from the CELTIC or GAELIC language which makes up of: Scottish, Welsh and Irish!

      Also: Person came from the Latin word “Per” meaning “One”
      Tsunami is japanese word for “Giant Wave”
      History is the surname of a Latin researcher

      -Don’t get me started on counting numbers….

      1. FabioB
        FabioB at |

        “”History is the surname of a Latin researcher”

        Really? How amazing, when you consider “y” doesn’t exist in latin alphabet!

        History cames from latin “historia” that, in turns, is coming from greek ???????, (historìa).

        The latin word is accented on the “o”, greek on the “i”

        Modern spanish has ‘historia’ (pronounced exactly as the original latin), italian has ‘storia’ and french has ‘histoire’ .

        And, yes, my own language is one of the latin drived languages I have just cited, so I am actually a showing off…

        1. FabioB
          FabioB at |

          My bad, I presumed the letter “Y” not to be existing in latin alphabet as it was called “greek I” (old italians still sometime calls it “I greca”), this led me to think that it had to be considered a non original latin letter, as were the “J” “U” “W” “Z”
          I was wrong, “Y” is a latin alphabet’s letter in its full right, the latin alphabet being derived from the greek alphabet, originally derived from phoenician alphabet.

          This is the right punishment for being a showing off ….

  9. Dave in Northridge
    Dave in Northridge at |

    Wow. English words from other languages. About a third of English was left by the Norman conquerors after 1066, who spoke French — all those -sion and -tion words, and words like beef and pork. All the names we call animals on the east coast — skunk, raccoon, moose, chipmunk — Algonquian languages. We think these words are English because they ARE English. Interesting list, but maybe we can do better on the truth continuum with headlines?

    1. TopTenz Master
      TopTenz Master at |

      Dave, I admittedly had a difficult time titling this list. But I still felt it was accurate. I believe most of the public of the United States would be surprised to know these are foreign words. I could be wrong, but the real point of these lists is to get people thinking and provide a few minutes of entertainment.

      1. DingBat
        DingBat at |

        And good onya (as we say Dahn Unda in Australia), TTM! *thumbs up* Anyone with any sort of formal English education would have been taught that a huge chunk of our language has its origins in other languages *roll eyes* … but a lot of these words are fun! 😀


        Algorithm – after a Persian scientist, Al-Khwarizmi

        Boondocks – from Tagalog

        Commando – Portuguese

        Corgi – literally "dwarf dog" in Welsh

        Emu (good Aussie icon!) – Portuguese

        Kiwi (bird) and mako (shark) – Maori (our indigenous cousins in New Zealand) 😉

        Mango – Portuguese (via Malay)

        Navy (as in a fleet of ships) – Persian (via Latin)

        Shalom – literally "peace" in Hebrew

        Ukelele – Hawaiian, meaning leaping flea ('uku' flea + 'lele' to jump, leap)

        Verandah – Malayalam (south-western India)

        Yo-yo – from Tagalog

        and a real 'doozy' (origin unknown – http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0

        Beige – according to the Oxford English Dictionary (the only one worth consulting on ENGLISH, imho) (http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0070270#m_en_gb0070270), has its origin in "mid 19th century (denoting a usually undyed and unbleached woollen fabric of this colour): from French, of unknown ultimate origin".


        if you prefer the Wikipedia version: "Etymology: French beige via Old French bege, perhaps from Italian bambagia cotton, from Medieval Latin bambac-, bambax, from Middle Greek Î&sup2;αÎ&frac14;Î&sup2;άκ bambak-, Î&sup2;άÎ&frac14;Î&sup2;αÎ&frac34; bambax, probably from a Turkish word represented now by Turkish pamuk cotton, probably of Persian origin; akin to Persian Ù&frac34;اÙ?با pamba cotton. cloth (as dress goods) made of natural undyed wool. a variable color averaging light grayish yellowish brown. a pale to grayish yellow.[53] "beige" /bazh/ may derive from "camBYSES" (Gk. Î&sup2;ίÏ?Ï?οÏ? "byssos" fine cloth, "bysses.byses" fine threads. Persian princes' robe)<Persian "kamBUJIYA"<Babylonian "kamBUZI" title of kings of Babylon who wore the robe each New Year."

        And let's not forget 'doofus' (North American, informal – http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0… which might be pertinent to some posters here! *whistle*

        From a self-confessed 'dingbat'!! (http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0226790#m_en_gb0226790)

        *Winks, grins and waves goodbye*

        1. Tanya Bennett
          Tanya Bennett at |

          My favorite so far is 'ukelele' – love it!

          As for the title, I was struggling to come up with a better one, too, but haven't been able to so far. Top 10 English Words With Interesting Origins? Kind of boring… Top 10 Words? Too broad. It's a tough one.

        2. DingBat
          DingBat at |

          I agree entirely, Tanya, and have no problem with the title; in fact, I think it's great! 😀 My 'doofus' comment was aimed at a couple of others, particularly Dave in Northridge for his unnecessary and mean sarcasm. I guess he wasn't brought up with the principle "if you've got nothing nice to say, then say nothing"! Hmm, I think I'll shut up now!! 😉

  10. voxindeserto
    voxindeserto at |

    I would like to know what defines a word as "English". Is there a cutoff date for when the word must have entered common usage? Must it have originated within the boundaries of England? Must the word share a common origin with all other words described as "English"? Must it only be found in an "English" dictionary? Please help me out, I am writing a paper in linguistics.

    1. Julia
      Julia at |

      There is no real "cutoff date" for words. For a word to be considered a part of the language it has to be known by most of the speakers of that particular language and be actively used in communication. However, this is not a clear definition and has many exceptions. Even experts are not clear on this point, there are as many opinions as there are authors. But, generally speaking, while saying a word is "English" we mean it has roots in English and is not a loan word from any other language. I am a student of interpretation myself and I have a diploma from linguistics, so I could start a longer discussion about this. I just provided some basics you may need for your paper. If you need more information, just ask.

  11. fadi kouri
    fadi kouri at |

    try these common words: cotton, agenda, lemon, lime, admiral, guitar, hazard, giraffe, coffee, magazine, mummy, orange, soda, sofa, spinach, sugar, syrup, tariff, zero, algebra, and many more. All Arabic in origin.

  12. Julia
    Julia at |

    Oh c´mon, you did ANYONE seriously think these words are English?

  13. Andreas M.
    Andreas M. at |

    The german "schick" originally comes from the french "chic".

  14. Lucas
    Lucas at |

    "Kimono is come from the Greek word himona, is mean winter. So, what do you wear in the wintertime to stay warm? A robe. You see: robe, kimono. There you go! "

    1. Benjamin
      Benjamin at |

      What ?

      Kimono is a Japanese word.


  15. archworf
    archworf at |

    If there is ANYONE out there that didn' t know that poltergeist was a foreign word just hearing it, it is more proof, like Anyone who uses 's for plurals, that WE NEED TO THIN THE HERD!

  16. Siavash
    Siavash at |

    u need to know That hassan Ebn Sabbah ,Was not an Arab He was an iranian, and hashashin Right meaning is not even Closely Related To hashish eater,it was reffered to them as hashashin becuase they used To harvest medical Plants and Sell Them,it seems That u Really Dont know anything about The real Persian history(he was one the man Who tried to Rise Againts Arabs and free iRan From Their Rules.

  17. Jindra
    Jindra at |

    How about words PISTOL or ROBOT! Both came from Czech language and I believe, that they are more marghain than KUDOS or POLTERGEIST 😉 but no offense 😉

  18. justinbieberlover
    justinbieberlover at |

    wow,never knew pistol wasn’t english! haha,suppose you learn something new everyday:’)

  19. Keisie
    Keisie at |

    I think most english words were originally foreign words. By your classification almost all english words can be included in this list. For instance, sophisticated stems from greek origin.Sorry, I don’t really see the point of the article.

    1. FabioB
      FabioB at |

      Kudos to you!

  20. lucy iremash
    lucy iremash at |

    are these french?
    art routine
    collage joy

  21. Richard
    Richard at |

    Read about the mysterious Copiale code that finally deciphered after 400 years, words are everything

  22. Harry
    Harry at |

    Ghoul is an Arabic word, but many confuse it being an english word. Ghoul is a undead monster or demonic spirit from Arabian mythology, thought to rob graves and dine on corpses by either drinking the blood or eating the rotting flesh.

  23. rhiannon mc g
    rhiannon mc g at |

    it really helped me with my homework!! thank you xxx

  24. Yusnia Sakti
    Yusnia Sakti at |


  25. Fitz
    Fitz at |

    Who thought any of these came from English? And why does every list have to tell me, that I believe this, stop insulting my intelligence, listing websites… I mean really, poltergeist?

    1. Shell Harris
      Shell Harris at |

      No offense is meant, but many people don’t know the facts we present. And don’t you think the title would be a bit silly if we wrote, “10 Foreign Words Some People May Have Thought Were English” 😉


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