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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Speir_

Histories of common English words

Take a look at:

Squirrel:

  • comes from the Greek word skiouros, which means 'shadow-tail'

Corridor:

  • has evolved from the Latin word 'currere' in which it literally means running place

Awkward:

  • comes from the Old Norse word afugr, which actually means 'turned the wrong way around'.

Clue:

  • initially meant ‘a ball of thread’. Its current meaning literally came from the idea of thread being used to guide somebody out of a maze..

Agile:

  • derived from French, it means to be able to move around quickly and gracefully

Commissioner:

  • comes from the Russian word 'commisar' which means an official

Seeing the history of commonly used words in the English language and how they've adapted from other languages. Before doing research, I wasn't aware that many of these words have derived from other languages spoken elsewhere.

Does anyone else know of any words that have adapted from other languages? Thanks!

July 16, 2017

16 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LavethWolf

They're called loan words, and it happens more often than one would think. Here's a Wikipedia article that lists a vast amount of English words that were borrowed from different languages. Enjoy!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_English_words_by_country_or_language_of_origin


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dutchesse722

I think loanwords are different. They're the original words from one language used in another language (because that language may not have its own word for it). In Dutch we use the French words taille (waist) and plafond (ceiling); we didn't change the spelling of those words and we pronounce them more or less like the original French words.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geloeschteskonto

There are many interesting parallels between English and German words:

edge - Ecke

hedge - Hecke

ridge - Rucken (means 'back' - the spine, I guess, is like a ridge)

midge - Mucke

stretch - Strecke

dodge - (sich) ducken (means 'to cower' 'to cringe')

Another Pattern:

sorrow - Sorge

morrow - Morgen

borrow - borgen

follow - folgen

bellows - Balg (for blacksmithing)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bi6gv

These words are most likely similar because English is a Germanic language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Deyan161

"car" from Gaulish via Norman French. Presumably originally horse-drawn. "bin" also from Gaulish. Plus check these out: "dog" "pig" both NO known etymology.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Speir_

None? Thanks for your response; I didn't know about the words "dog" and "pig", thanks!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WulfgarGoodread

I recently read that person, people, vagina (which meant sheath) and military all came from Etruscan through Latin.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dutchesse722

Cookie comes from the Dutch Koekie or Koekje. And the word Yankee was supposedly derived from the Dutch name Jan-Kees.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piper-fred

An interesting similarity that I learnt about recently is the word 'matinee', which is English for an afternoon performance at a show or concert. However, in French, 'matinée' actually means morning! It's interesting that these words mean opposite things in different languages :)


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