Loan-Words and Where They Come From

Below is a list of different languages and some English words that derive from roots in those languages. This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are many, many more such words than are listed here. And do not draw conclusions based on the number of words listed. While in some cases a conclusion may be valid (e.g., Finnish has one word listed and the impact Finnish has had on English is indeed minimal), in others it may not be (e.g., Arabic has about as many words listed as Latin, but the impact of Latin on English is incomparably larger).

This is a sample only. But another caution, it is not necessarily a representative sample; although you can draw some conclusions based on the words listed here (e.g., most Japanese loan words are used in connection with Japanese culture, such as geisha or sashimi, and have not been adopted into generic English use, although a few have, such as futon or tycoon).

Some of these words come into English via other languages (e.g., many native American words arrive via Spanish). I’ve tried to note where such intermediary languages are common. Words marked with a question mark (?) are of uncertain origin, but probably come from that language.

African Languages

Bantu

West African

Altaic Languages

Turkish/Tatar

Austronesian Languages

Australian Aboriginal

Javanese

Malay

Polynesian

Basque

Dravidian Languages

Tamil

Indo-European Languages

Afrikaans

Celtic, Ancient

Czech

Dutch/Flemish/Low German

French, Old

French, Modern

Gaelic

German

Greek

Hindi/Urdu

Icelandic

Italian

Latin

Norse

Norwegian

Old English

Persian

Portuguese

Romany

Sanskrit

Scots

Spanish

Swedish

Welsh

Yiddish

Japanese

Native-American Languages

Aleut/Inuit

Algonquin

Arawakan

Carib

Nahuatl

Quechua

Tupi-Guarini

Semitic Languages

Arabic

Aramaic

Hebrew

Sino-Tibetan

Chinese

Uralic Languages

Finnish

Hungarian

African Languages

Bantu

  • Boma
  • Bwana
  • Chimpanzee
  • Impala
  • Impi
  • Mamba
  • Marimba
  • Zombie

West African

  • Banjo (?)
  • Gumbo
  • Jazz (?)
  • Juju
  • Juke
  • Mumbo-jumbo
  • Okra
  • Voodoo
  • Yam

Altaic Languages

Turkish/Tatar

  • Kaftan
  • Coffee
  • Cossack
  • Divan
  • Horde
  • Khan
  • Mammoth
  • Pasha
  • Tartar
  • Turkey
  • Turquoise
  • Yogurt

Austronesian Languages

Australian Aboriginal

  • Billabong
  • Boomerang
  • Corroboree
  • Kangaroo
  • Koala
  • Kookaburra
  • Wallaby
  • Wombat
  • Yabber

Javanese

  • Bantam
  • Batik
  • Junk

Malay

  • Amok
  • Bamboo
  • Caddy
  • Camphor
  • Cassowary
  • Cockatoo
  • Dugong
  • Gecko
  • Gingham
  • Gong
  • Compound
  • Orangutan
  • Pangolin
  • Rattan
  • Sarong

Polynesian

  • Aloha
  • Hula
  • Kava
  • Kiwi
  • Lanai
  • Lei
  • Moa
  • Muumuu
  • Taboo
  • Tattoo
  • Ukelele

Basque (via Spanish)

  • Chaparral
  • Jai alai

Dravidian Languages

Tamil

  • Catamaran
  • Cheroot
  • Curry
  • Mango
  • Mulligatawny
  • Pariah

Indo-European Languages

Afrikaans

  • Aardvark
  • Apartheid
  • Boer
  • Commando
  • Spoor
  • Trek

Celtic, Ancient

  • Ambassador
  • Bannock
  • Bard
  • Bracket
  • Breeches
  • Car
  • Carry
  • Career
  • Carriage
  • Cargo
  • Carpenter
  • Charge
  • Crag
  • Druid
  • Embassy
  • Minion
  • Peat
  • Piece
  • Vassal
  • Valet
  • Varlet

Czech

  • Howitzer
  • Pistol
  • Robot

Dutch/Flemish/Low German

  • Bluff
  • Boor
  • Boss
  • Brandy
  • Bully
  • Bumpkin
  • Clamp
  • Clipper
  • Coleslaw
  • Cookie
  • Dapper
  • Derrick
  • Dope
  • Drill
  • Drum
  • Easel
  • Frolic
  • Golf
  • Grime
  • Hunk
  • Kink
  • Landscape
  • Loiter
  • Poppycock
  • Rant
  • Runt
  • Scow
  • Skipper
  • Sled
  • Slim
  • Smack
  • Smuggle
  • Snap
  • Snoop
  • Splint
  • Spook
  • Stoop
  • Yacht

French, Old

  • Allow
  • Bastard
  • Beauty
  • Beef
  • Brush
  • Castle
  • Chivalry
  • Choice
  • Cloister
  • Conquest
  • Constraint
  • Court
  • Defeat
  • Destroy
  • Dinner
  • Forest
  • Frail
  • Garden
  • Govern
  • Honest
  • Hostel
  • Interest
  • Judge
  • Loyal
  • Marvel
  • Mutton
  • Paste
  • Place
  • Poison
  • Port
  • Priest
  • Push
  • Quarter
  • Quest
  • Royal
  • Stuff
  • Sure
  • Tempest
  • Ticket
  • Trick

French, Modern

  • Aperitif
  • Après-ski
  • Avant-garde
  • Bidet
  • Bourgeois
  • Brasserie
  • Café
  • Camouflage
  • Canard
  • Chateau
  • Chef
  • Chevalier
  • Coup de grace
  • Coup d’etat
  • Croissant
  • Cuisine
  • Debacle
  • Debut
  • Dessert
  • Elite
  • Esprit de corps
  • Etiquette
  • Fiancé
  • Fricassee
  • Garage
  • Gourmand
  • Gourmet
  • Hors d’oeuvre
  • Hotel
  • Joie de vivre
  • Liaison
  • Limousine
  • Lingerie
  • Marionette
  • Morale
  • Objet d’art
  • Parole
  • Pastiche
  • Patisserie
  • Petite
  • Pirouette
  • Prestige
  • Regime
  • Silhouette
  • Souvenir
  • Vignette
  • Voyeur

Gaelic

  • Bog
  • Cairn
  • Galore
  • Whiskey
  • Gab
  • Gob
  • Banshee
  • Blarney
  • Brogue
  • Colleen
  • Hooligan
  • Leprechaun
  • Poteen
  • Shamrock
  • Shillelagh
  • Smithereens
  • Tory
  • Caber
  • Clan
  • Claymore
  • Glen
  • Loch
  • Plaid
  • Slogan
  • Sporran
  • Trousers

German

  • Blitz
  • Cobalt
  • Dachshund
  • Diktat
  • Dote
  • Feldspar
  • Frankfurter
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gneiss
  • Hamburger
  • Kindergarten
  • Leitmotiv
  • Pretzel
  • Quartz
  • Realpolitik
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tackle
  • Waltz
  • Weltanschauung
  • Zeitgeist

Greek

  • Abiogenesis
  • Aegis
  • Agnostic
  • Alphabet
  • Analysis
  • Anemone
  • Antithesis
  • Atheism
  • Automatic
  • Automaton
  • Biology
  • Blasphemy
  • Charisma
  • Chemotherapy
  • Cinema
  • Crisis
  • Criterion
  • Criticism
  • Cytokinesis
  • Diagnosis
  • Dogma
  • Drama
  • Electron
  • Enigma
  • Epistemology
  • Gene
  • Genesis
  • Gnosis
  • Herpetology
  • Hoi polloi
  • Kerygma
  • Magma
  • Moussaka
  • Narcolepsy
  • Odyssey
  • Oligarchy
  • Osteoporosis
  • Ouzo
  • Patriarch
  • Phenomenon
  • Photograph
  • Photon
  • Rhinoceros
  • Rhododendron
  • Souvlaki
  • Stigma
  • Synthesis
  • Thesis

Hindi/Urdu

  • Bungalow
  • Dinghy
  • Dungaree
  • Ghee
  • Loot
  • Raj
  • Samosa
  • Shampoo
  • Tandoori
  • Tom-tom

Icelandic

  • Auk
  • Eider
  • Geyser
  • Saga

Italian (often via French)

  • Adagio
  • Alfresco
  • Alto
  • Andante
  • Arpeggio
  • Battalion
  • Bel canto
  • Bimbo
  • Bordello
  • Bravo
  • Canto
  • Caprice
  • Cello
  • Charlatan
  • Coloratura
  • Con brio
  • Concerto
  • Confetti
  • Contralto
  • Crescendo
  • Cupola
  • Diminuendo
  • Divertimeto
  • Extravaganza
  • Fiasco
  • Fortissimo
  • Fresco
  • Frigate
  • Ghetto
  • Gigolo
  • Graffiti
  • Imbroglio
  • Intaglio
  • Lasagne
  • Libretto
  • Macaroni
  • Mafia
  • Mezzosoprano
  • Minestrone
  • Mozzarella
  • Novella
  • Palazzo
  • Pasta
  • Piano-forte
  • Piazza
  • Picturesque
  • Pizza
  • Pizzicato
  • Ravioli
  • Regatta
  • Scherzo
  • Seraglio
  • Solo
  • Sonata
  • Spaghetti
  • Stanza
  • Tagliatelle
  • Tarantella
  • Tirade
  • Vermicelli

Latin (often via French)

  • A posteriori
  • Ad hoc
  • Add
  • Addendum
  • Addition
  • Agent
  • Albumen
  • Apex
  • Aqueduct
  • Area
  • Audio
  • Audit
  • Bacteria
  • Cactus
  • Camera
  • Cancer
  • Candle
  • Caveat
  • Circus
  • Color
  • Colossus
  • Complex
  • Consider
  • Contemplate
  • Data
  • De facto
  • De jure
  • Decide
  • Discus
  • Equilibrium
  • Erupt
  • Ex post facto
  • Exeunt
  • Extempore
  • Fauna
  • Fiat
  • Flora
  • Formula
  • Fungus
  • General
  • Genius
  • Genus
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Homo sapiens
  • Homunculus
  • Honor
  • Honorarium
  • Igneous
  • Ignite
  • Ignoble
  • Illiteracy
  • Immoral
  • Immortality
  • Imprimatur
  • Inertia
  • Ingenious
  • Interim
  • Latex
  • Literature
  • Locus
  • Mandamus
  • Media
  • Meditate
  • Memorandum
  • Memory
  • Moment
  • Momentum
  • Moral
  • Noble
  • Onus
  • Opera
  • Ovum
  • Pauper
  • Pax Britannica
  • Pendulous
  • Pendulum
  • Peninsula
  • Post mortem
  • Propaganda
  • Quid pro quo
  • Radium
  • Referendum
  • Revise
  • Series
  • Sex
  • Similar
  • Simile
  • Sine die
  • Status
  • Stimulus
  • Temple
  • Terminus
  • Vertigo
  • Victor
  • Video

Norse

  • Anger
  • Balderdash
  • Bleak
  • Blink
  • Bloom
  • Blunder
  • Blur
  • Call
  • Clamber
  • Creek
  • Crook
  • Die
  • Dirt
  • Dowdy
  • Doze
  • Dregs
  • Egg
  • Fellow
  • Flat
  • Flaunt
  • Flaw
  • Fleck
  • Flimsy
  • Gasp
  • Gaunt
  • Gaze
  • Girth
  • Glint
  • Glitter
  • Gloat
  • Happen
  • Harsh
  • Inkling
  • Kick
  • Kilt
  • Law
  • Leg
  • Loan
  • Meek
  • Muck
  • Muggy
  • Nasty
  • Nudge
  • Oaf
  • Odd
  • Raise
  • Root
  • Scalp
  • Scant
  • Scowl
  • Seat
  • Skewer
  • Skid
  • Skill
  • Skin
  • Skull
  • Sky
  • Sniff
  • Snub
  • Squall
  • Squeal
  • Take
  • They
  • Thrall
  • Thrift
  • Thrust
  • Ugly
  • Vole
  • Want
  • Weak
  • Window

Norwegian

  • Fjord
  • Floe
  • Kraken
  • Krill
  • Lemming
  • Ski
  • Slalom

Old English

  • Acre
  • Ale
  • Bead
  • Bed
  • Beer
  • Blood
  • Book
  • Brother
  • Churl
  • Corn
  • Crank
  • Dead
  • Doom 
  • Earl
  • East
  • Eight
  • Eleven
  • Elf
  • Food
  • Freedom
  • Glee
  • God 
  • Good
  • Ground
  • Hand
  • Harvest
  • Head
  • Heart
  • Heaven
  • Hell
  • Husting
  • Iron
  • Lady
  • Land
  • Leech
  • Lent
  • Lord
  • Love
  • Man
  • Mistletoe
  • Nine
  • North
  • Peony
  • Periwinkle
  • Sit
  • Sleep
  • South
  • Stone
  • Summer
  • Thing
  • Twelve
  • War
  • Water
  • Weird
  • West
  • Wife
  • Wine
  • Winter
  • Woman

Persian

  • Arsenic
  • Azure
  • Bazaar
  • Caravan
  • Check
  • Checkmate
  • Dervish
  • Jackal
  • Khaki
  • Kiosk
  • Lilac
  • Magic
  • Mogul
  • Pajamas
  • Paradise
  • Peach
  • Pilaf
  • Pistachio
  • Shah
  • Shawl
  • Spinach
  • Talc
  • Tiara
  • Tulip
  • Turban

Portuguese

  • Albino
  • Caste
  • Marmalade
  • Molasses
  • Palaver

Romany

  • Nark
  • Pal
  • Posh (?)

Russian

  • Agitprop
  • Borsch
  • Cosmonaut
  • Czar
  • Glasnost
  • Gulag
  • Perestroika
  • Pogrom
  • Samizdat
  • Samovar
  • Steppe
  • Troika
  • Vodka


Sanskrit (through various languages)

  • Ashram
  • Avatar
  • Banyan
  • Beryl
  • Bodhisattva
  • Brahmin
  • Buddha
  • Carmine
  • Chakra
  • Cheetah
  • Chintz
  • Chutney
  • Crimson
  • Guru
  • Juggernaut
  • Jungle
  • Jute
  • Karma
  • Lacquer
  • Maharaja
  • Mahatma
  • Mandarin
  • Mantra
  • Nirvana
  • Palanquin
  • Pundit
  • Raja
  • Rani
  • Sapphire
  • Sugar
  • Swastika
  • Yoga

Scots

  • Bogle
  • Bonnie
  • Burn
  • Canny
  • Collie
  • Cosy
  • Eerie
  • Forebear
  • Glamour
  • Glengarry
  • Gloaming
  • Glower
  • Gumption
  • Lilt
  • Pony
  • Raid
  • Rampage
  • Uncanny
  • Wee
  • Weird
  • Wizened
  • Wraith

Spanish

  • Adobe
  • Alligator
  • Anchovy
  • Armada
  • Armadillo
  • Barricade
  • Bravado
  • Cask
  • Chinchilla
  • Embargo
  • Galleon
  • Grenade
  • Guerilla
  • Hacienda
  • Hoosegow
  • Lariat
  • Mosquito
  • Mulatto
  • Negro
  • Peccadillo
  • Pinto
  • Pronto
  • Ranch
  • Renegade
  • Sarsaparilla
  • Sherry
  • Silo
  • Sombrero
  • Stampede
  • Stevedore
  • Vamoose
  • Vigilante

Swedish

  • Ombudsman
  • Smorgasbord
  • Tungsten

Welsh

  • Bug
  • Coracle
  • Corgi
  • Cwm
  • Flannel

Yiddish

  • Chutzpah
  • Shlemiel
  • Shlep
  • Shlock
  • Schmaltz

Japanese

  • Aikido
  • Bonsai
  • Bushido
  • Futon
  • Geisha
  • Haiku
  • Issei
  • Judo
  • Jujitsu
  • Kabuki
  • Karaoke
  • Kendo
  • Kimono
  • Koan
  • Mikado
  • Miso
  • Ninja
  • Nintendo
  • Nisei
  • Noh
  • Nori
  • Obi
  • Origami
  • Pachinko
  • Sake
  • Samurai
  • Sashimi
  • Satsuma
  • Shinto
  • Shogun
  • Soba
  • Soy
  • Sumo
  • Sushi
  • Tatami
  • Tempura
  • Tofu
  • Tycoon
  • Yakuza
  • Zaibatsu
  • Zen

Native American Languages

Aleut/Inuit

  • Anorak
  • Igloo
  • Kayak
  • Parka

Algonquin

  • Caucus
  • Chipmunk
  • Hickory
  • Moccasin
  • Moose
  • Muskrat
  • Opossum
  • Papoose
  • Pecan
  • Pemmican
  • Persimmon
  • Pow-wow
  • Raccoon
  • Skunk
  • Squash
  • Squaw
  • Succotash
  • Toboggan
  • Tomahawk
  • Wampum
  • Wigwam
  • Woodchuck

Arawakan (often via Spanish)

  • Barbecue
  • Hammock
  • Iguana
  • Potato
  • Tobacco
  • Savannah

Carib (often via Spanish)

  • Cannibal
  • Canoe
  • Hurricane
  • Macaw
  • Maize
  • Manatee
  • Papaya
  • Peccary
  • Yucca

Nahuatl (via Spanish)

  • Avocado
  • Cocoa
  • Chili
  • Chocolate
  • Coyote
  • Mescal
  • Ocelot
  • Peyote
  • Tomato

Quechua (via Spanish)

  • Alpaca
  • Jerky
  • Cocaine
  • Condor
  • Guanaco
  • Guano
  • Llama
  • Pampas
  • Puma
  • Quinine
  • Vicuna

Tupi-Guarini (via French, Portuguese, & Spanish)

  • Buccaneer
  • Cashew
  • Cayenne
  • Cougar
  • Jaguar
  • Petunia
  • Tapioca
  • Tapir
  • Toucan

Semitic Languages

Arabic

  • Admiral
  • Albatross
  • Alchemy
  • Alcohol
  • Alcove
  • Algebra
  • Alkali
  • Almanac
  • Apricot
  • Arsenal
  • Assassin
  • Assegai
  • Aubergine
  • Azimuth
  • Bedouin
  • Caliph
  • Cipher
  • Emir
  • Gazelle
  • Genie
  • Ghoul
  • Giraffe
  • Harem
  • Hashish
  • Hazard
  • Henna
  • Hookah
  • Imam
  • Islam
  • Jasmine
  • Jihad
  • Kaffir
  • Kismet
  • Koran
  • Lemon
  • Magazine
  • Minaret
  • Mohair
  • Monsoon
  • Moslem
  • Muezzin
  • Mufti
  • Mujahedin
  • Mullah
  • Nadir
  • Safari
  • Saffron
  • Sahib
  • Salaam
  • Sash
  • Scarlet
  • Sequin
  • Sharia
  • Sheik
  • Sherbet
  • Sirocco
  • Sofa
  • Syrup
  • Talisman
  • Tariff
  • Zero

Aramaic

  • Abbot
  • Kaddish
  • Pharisee

Hebrew (often via Greek, Latin, or Yiddish)

  • Alphabet
  • Amen
  • Bedlam
  • Behemoth
  • Cabal
  • Camel
  • Cherub
  • Cinnamon
  • Golem
  • Hallelujah
  • Hosanna
  • Jehovah
  • Leviathan
  • Manna
  • Maudlin
  • Messiah
  • Nard
  • Rabbi
  • Sabbath
  • Seraphim
  • Shalom
  • Shibboleth
  • Simony
  • Sodomy
  • Talmud
  • Torah
  • Yahweh

Sino-Tibetan Languages

Chinese

  • China
  • Chopsticks
  • Chopsuey
  • Chow Mein
  • Ginseng
  • Gung-ho
  • Ketchup
  • Kowtow
  • Kung-fu
  • Lichee
  • Mahjong
  • Pekoe
  • Sampan
  • Tai chi
  • Tao
  • Tea
  • Yang
  • Yin

Uralic Languages

Finnish

  • Sauna

Hungarian

  • Goulash
  • Hussar
  • Paprika

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