A list of English words of foreign origin would be quite lengthy. However, we will look at a number of words and find some sources online.
List of English Words of Foreign Origin
To find a list of English words of foreign origin, you can go to Wikipedia. They have a gigantic list of English words from many languages, including: African, Czech, Malay, Hawaiian, Persian, Tagalog, and many more. There are 61 pages to this list, each page containing one language or country of origin. Here is a sampling of what is available:
- African - banana, jumbo, yam, zebra
- Chinese - ketchup, pekoe, shanghai
- French - catalogue, essence, gourmet, justice, massage, perfume, regret, terror
- Japanese - anime, karaoke, tycoon, hibachi, sushi
- Norwegian - fjord, krill, ski, slalom
- Tagalog - boondocks, manila, ylang ylang (a flower)
- Welsh - corgi (dog), crag, penguin
If you would like to browse a much shorter list of English words of foreign origin, there is a good one that was put together by Westegg.com. It is a collection of curious and interesting words. Here are a few with the language of origin and the definition:
- Alarm - Italian - to arms
- Ballot - Italian - small pebble or ball, people would vote by casting a pebble into a box
- Cantelope - Italian - singing wolf, a town in Italy where the melon was grown
- Companion - from both Spanish and French, but with a Latin root - one with whom you would eat bread
- Denim - French - the cloth was developed in Nimes and called Serge di Nimes, later shortened to di Nimes, then to denim. It was also made in Genoa, Italy, hence the name "jeans"
- Genuine - Italian - placed on the knees. In Rome, a father placed a newborn on his knee to legally claim it as his
- Muscle - Latin - little mouse, when you flex a muscle, it was called a little mouse that runs beneath your skin
- Night - German - first meant "day" because the day began at sunset, like many other ancient civilizations
- Ostracize - Greek - pottery, if someone was a danger to the town, the people would write their vote on chunks of pottery to decide to banish him or not
- Slogan - Celtic - two words together that mean battle cry
- Victim - Latin - an animal that was to be sacrificed
- Worm - Old English - dragon
Other Interesting Words
- There are many interesting or unusual words in the English language. There are also some unique ways of looking at them. Here are some examples:
- 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.
Alphadictionary.com has an article on a book which lists and explains 100 of the English language's funniest words. Here are a few with their definitions:
- Allegator - a person who alleges
- Batrachomyomachy - to make a mountain out of a molehill
- Bowyang - a strap holding your pants legs
- Bumbershoot - umbrella
- Cantankerous - grouchy
- Comeuppance - just dessert
- Crapulence - uncomfortable after over-eating or over-drinking
- Discombobulate - confuse
- Eructation - belch
- Fard - paint on the face or makeup
- Fartlek - refers to a training routine
- Firkin - small barrel
- Flummox - to frustrate
- Formication - the sensation of ants crawling on your skin
- Hobbledehoy - clumsy or rude boy
- Lollygag - to move slowly
- Mollycoddle - to spoil a person
- Skedaddle - move quickly
- Snollygoster - untrustworthy person
- Vomitory - an exit
- Yahoo - hillbilly
These are all words meaning absurd, nonsense, or silliness: cockamamie, codswallop, flibbertigibbet, folderol, gobbledygook, godwottery, kerfuffle, malarkey, and rigmarole.