Foreign Words & Phrases

Foreign Words & Phrases

'Language', says RW Emerson, 'is a city, to the building of which every human being brought a stone'. How true of English! It has words gathered from all ages, all lands and all climes. We have tomato from Mexico, maize. from the West Indies, coffee from Turkey, tea from China, bamboo from Malaya, umbrella from Italy, and pyjama from India. From the French have come elite, etiquette, garage and chauffeur; from the Spanish, cargo, cask, armada, cannibal, mosquito and potato; from Portuguese, molasses and coconut; from the Germans, strafe and blitz; from the Africans, apartheid; from the Russians, sputnik; and from the Americans have come, tornado, rugged, cockroach, loafer, package deal and gimmick. And so ad infinitum!

The following is a list of some of the foreign words and phrases commonly used in English:

[Lat. Latin; Fr. = French; Sp. = Spanish; Gr. = Greek; It. = Italian; US = American; Ger. = German; Norw. = Norwegian]
  • ab absurdo (Lat.) : from absurdity​
  • ab imo pectore (Lat.) : from the bottom of the heart​
  • ab initio (Lat.) : from the beginning​
  • ab origine (Lat.) : from the origin​
  • addendum (Lat.) : appendix; a thing or things added​
  • ad arbitrium(Lat.) : at will​
  • ad extremum (Lat.) : to the extreme​
  • ad hoc (Lat.) : for this purpose without consideration of wider application​
  • ad infinitum (Lat.) : to infinity; without limit; for ever​
  • ad interim (Lat.) : for the time being​
  • ad libitum (Lat.) : at pleasure; as much as you like​
  • bella donna (It.) : a pretty woman

  • belles-lettres (Fr.) : literary studies and writings

  • bete noire (Fr.) : a special object of dislike

  • blitz (Ger.) : violent aerial attack

  • blitzkrieg (Ger.) : lightning war; a swift, sudden attack

  • bona fide (Lat.) : in good faith; without fraud

  • bonanza (US) : Gold mine, an oil well, that is prospering greatly (bringing good luck and prosperity)

  • bon mot (Fr.) : a witticism

  • bon ton (Fr.) : the height of fashion

  • Bon voyage! (Fr.) : Pleasant journey to you! (wish)

  • bourgeoisie (Fr.) : the middle classes

  • cadre (Fr.) : a frame, scheme; a list of officers

  • canard (Fr.) : a rumour; a hoax

  • cap-a-pie (Fr.) : from head to foot

  • carte blanche (Fr.) : full powers; a free hand

  • chauffeur (Fr.) : professional driver of motor car

  • charge d'affaires (Fr.) : a subordinate diplomat

  • communique (Fr.) : official note or intimation

  • commune bonum (Lat.) : the common, general good

  • corrigendum (Lat.) : corrections in a book

  • coup d'etat (Fr.) : sudden overthrow of government unconstitu tionally

  • coup de grace (Fr.) : a finishing stroke; a death-blow

  • coup de main (Fr.) : a bold attempt

  • crescendo (It.) : progress towards a climax

  • cuisine (Fr.) : the kind of cooking produced

  • debut (Fr.) : first appearance in the society or on stage as performer

  • de facto (Lat.) : in fact, in reality

  • de jure (Lat.) : in law; rightful; by legal right

  • denouement (US) : catastrophe, final solution, conclusion in a play, novel, etc.

  • de novo (Lat.) : again; anew, afresh

  • de profundis (Lat.) :eek:ut of the depths of sorrow and despair

  • desideratum (Lat.) : something wanting and required or desired.

  • detente (Fr.) : relaxation of strained relations between states.

  • detenu (Lat.) : prisoner

  • detour (Fr.) : a way round, not the direct one