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Some Foreign Words  in English

Some Foreign Words in English

Date: Sep 23 2008

Topic: Vocabulary

Author: Pavlionka


According to a famous paraphrase of a quote by James D. Nicoll, "English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over, and goes through their pockets for loose grammar." And loose vocabulary as well Wink It has been estimated that more than two-thirds of English vocabulary are borrowed from French, Latin, Italian, Greek, Spanish...

In my first lesson I present to you just a few "borrowed" words and phrases wich are commonly used in modern English. 

1. per [Lat.] 

If something happens as per normal , it means that it happens in the normal way.

Ex. Despite the wind and the rain he walked to work as per normal.

If you receive an amount of money per annum you receive that amount for the period of the year.

Ex. The salary is 18 000 pounds per annum, which works out at 1500 pounds a month.

2. ad hoc [Lat.] = unplanned

If something is done on an ad hoc basis, it happens or is done only when the situation makes it necessary or desirable, rather than being arranged in advance.

Ex. We can meet on an ad hoc basis, as and when we need to. There is no need to arrange dates now.

3. ad infinitum (ad in-fun-eye'tum) [Lat.] = endlessly

If someone does something ad infinitum they do it repeatedly over the long period of time. 

Ex. I could read this book ad infinitum and never get bored.

4. ad nauseam (ad noz'ee-um) [Lat.] 

If somethig happens ad nauseam it happens over and over again so that people get completely bored.

Ex. He talked ad nauseam about his achievements and how successful he is. It was boring!

5. bete noire (bet nwahr') [Fr.]

A bete noire is something that you esp. hate or that annoys you very much.

Ex. My bete noire is people using mobile phones loudly and indiscreetly in public.

6. bona fide (boh'na fide) [Lat.]

Something that is bona fide is genuine or real.

Ex. I saw his ID. He was a bona fide representative of the company.

7. carte blanche (kart blonsh') [Fr.]

If you have carte blanche to do smth you have complete power to do exactly as you wish.

Ex. My boss gave me carte blanche to organize an appropriate party.

8. deja vu [Fr.]

Deja vu is the experience of perceiving a new situation as if it had occurred before.

Ex. I'm sure I've been here before. Either that or I'm having a real sense of deja vu.

9. faux pas (foh pah') [Fr.]

A faux pas is a socially embarrassing action or mistake.

Ex. It was such a posh dinner and I was so terrified of making a faux pas and using the wrong fork or knife.

10. status quo [Lat.]

The status quo is the situation that exists at a particular time without any changes.

Ex. The arrival of a new baby is likely to change the status quo quite considerably.

11. (sic) [Lat.]

You write (sic) in brackets after a word or expression when you are quoting something that someone else has said or written.

Ex. She said that she liked very much London (sic) and wanted to stay here for a long time.

This is just a small list of French and Latin words. I will continue with German and Italian next time, if you find this topic useful. So, let me know and good luck in learning English! 


Log in to Comment




ahh these are amazing!! I can find wonderful worlds here. lol I only know the word “deja vu”. 

08:08 AM Jul 20 2012 |



it helped me a lot because i found my answers here…...._V

07:30 PM Jul 19 2012 |



there are many foreign words and phrases here is the sitehttp://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001619.html

here is a site for improving your vocabulary tips and techniques for free


10:30 PM Mar 15 2009 |



Hi Pavlionka,

                               It was a nice article from you.The way you gave a glimpse of certain aspects of the English language  wrt borrowed words was really helpful.

                                I would like to know if have gone through <!-[endif]->www.vocabularybuilder.info. I thought the site was good and you may find some time to go through it.Good Luck


11:06 PM Mar 14 2009 |

skywalker now


good ,but still difficult

07:37 AM Mar 07 2009 |




that was good

07:38 AM Dec 03 2008 |




Maybe it is difficult for me to understand those words. But I will try . Thank you all the same.

08:13 PM Oct 30 2008 |


Costa Rica

very important to learn!

06:08 PM Oct 16 2008 |



This is a way to improve myself..


01:34 AM Oct 03 2008 |




I'm, actually, flattered Embarassed You're always welcomeLaughing

09:24 AM Oct 02 2008 |

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