Some Interesting English 'Borrowed' Words
Most English words have been imported from elsewhere, either when invasions
of England took place (eg the Romans, the Vikings and the Normans) or when the
English invaded other countries (eg America and India). Imports from Greek,
Latin, Norse, French, German, Spanish Italian and Dutch are so numerous as to be
unremarkable: the list below contains just a few of the more interesting imports.
Abbey (Ancient Syria Syriac) a religious centre used by monks.
Abyss (Ancient Mesopotamia Sumerian) a deep dark hole.
Anorak (Greenland Inuit) waterproof hooded jacket.
Apartheid (South Africa Africaans) unpleasant race-dividing politics.
Assassin (Ancient Arabic) hired killer -originally 'hashshshin' meaning 'addicted to marijuana'
and applied to warriors who would smoke the drug before battle.
Avalanche (Switzerland Romansh) a major snowslide on the side of a mountain -originally
Avocado (Native South American) a green fruit -originally from 'awa guatl' meaning testicle.
Balaclava (Ukraine Ukrainian) a snug hat that covers the head but not the face.
Banana (West Africa Senegal Wolof) a kind of sweet fruit.
Barbeque (Native Caribbean) raised structure for cooking meat.
Barge (Ancient Egypt Egyptian) a narrow boat.
Barrack (Native Australian Dharuk) to jeer at.
Billabong (Native Australian Wiradhuri) water-hole.
Bistro (Russia Russian) an upmarket cafe -originally meaning 'fast'.
Bizarre (Spain Basque) strange -originally 'bizar' meaning beard, the meaning of the word
later changing to 'handsome' and then 'brave' before acquiring its current meaning.
Boogie (West Africa Ki-Kongo) rhythmic musical blues form -originally 'm'bugi' meaning 'devilishly good'.
Boondocks (Philippines Tagalog) an out-of-the-way place -originally 'bundok' meaning
Bravo (France Breton) a cry of encouragement.
Breeze (Portugal Portugese) a light wind.
Bungalow (India Bengali) small house -originally 'bangal'.
Candy (Arabic) crystallized sugar, named after the Qandi sugar refinery built by the Arabs on Crete around AD 1000.
Capsize (Spain Catalan) to roll over, applied to boats.
Caramel (Arabic) a sickly kind of sweet, invented by Arab-speaking people in the
Middle Ages -originally 'kurat al milh' meaning 'ball of sweet salt'.
Cashew (Native Peruvian and Brazilian Tupi) a kind of sweet nut.
Catamaran (India Tamil) a sailing boat with two hulls -originally meaning 'bound wood'.
Cherub (Ancient Babylonia Akkadian) a childlike winged angel -originally meaning 'gracious'.
Checkmate (Iran and Afghanistan Farsi) the final position in a game of chess -originally meaning 'the king is dead'.
Chocolate (Ancient South America Aztec Nahuatl) sweet brown stimulating foodstuff -originally