Questions about words borrowed by English from another language.

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10
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5answers
7k views

Why is quixotic pronounced as it is?

Since "quixotic" was coined with Don Quixote as its basis, why is it pronounced "kwicks-OTT-ick" when it should by rights/origin be pronounced "Key-HO-tick"? It even sounds more onomatopoeiatic the ...
5
votes
0answers
136 views

Expectaltee: A person who expects something

The word of the day: † expectaltee, n. Obs. rare. A person who expects something. [OED] You might ask how on the earth expectaltee is a word. Well, apparently it is a word but the origin is ...
3
votes
1answer
65 views

Thrown by 'a broncho.' Or is it a 'bronco'? Or a 'bronc'?

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, first edition (1908) has this entry for broncho: Broncho (brŏn´kō), n. {Sp. bronco rough, wild.} A native or a Mexican horse of small size. {Western U.S.} Four ...
10
votes
9answers
2k views

Are there good English expressions for “raison d’être” and “joie de vivre”? [closed]

I know the two phrases have been adopted into the English lexicon, but raison d’être and joie de vivre are phrases, not words. As phrases they certainly sound better in French than would their ...
1
vote
2answers
58 views

The noun “alternative” [closed]

If I am not mistaken, the noun alternative has roots in the Latin word alter, which translates to: the other (of two). My question would be: why does the word alternative have plural in English? It ...
3
votes
1answer
76 views

When to use 'al' in front of 'Qaeda'?

I've noticed over the years that certain publications use 'al' in front of 'Qaeda' in certain situations, and others do not. From the little I know, I understand that 'al' is the definite article in ...
4
votes
2answers
199 views

Is there a synonym for “schadenfreude” that sounds more colloquial?

Is there a more colloquial synonym for "schadenfreude"? I'm specifically looking for a noun that denotes a pleasure derived from other people's misfortunes or sufferings. Sadly, I couldn't find any ...
7
votes
4answers
585 views

French (and, hey, others too) equivalent of “anglicize”

Is there a preferred word that means "to change (a word) to sound (or otherwise appear) as if it came from French"? I've found both "Frenchize" and "Francize" with a web search. If the latter is ...
10
votes
6answers
3k views

fait accompli – to italicize, or not to italicize

Background I was looking up the rule about italicizing foreign phrases and found an apparent consensus that the criterion is if the phrase is familiar. Well, who gets to decide that? I know perfectly ...
7
votes
2answers
716 views

Etymology of “Spaghetti and gravy”

In Nero Wolfe "Before I die", the gangster's sidekick asks for spaghetti and gravy. After Wolfe's chef Fritz prepares him spaghetti with the type of gravy used for roast beef, it turns out that the ...
25
votes
5answers
6k views

Where on Earth is “penguin” from?

Fact or fallacy? It's one of those things you hear or casually read somewhere that sticks with you. The word penguin is derived from Welsh; pen refers to "head", while gywn means "white". Well, it's ...
1
vote
1answer
265 views

Where does the term “hardware” in computer science comes from?

The term Software was coined in 195x. And it was opposed the term Hardware, physical part of a computer system, which is tangible. But where does the term Hardware comes from (from which of the ...
10
votes
2answers
387 views

Is “kip” Chinese in origin?

While looking up the history of kip, I realized that the information about its origins is rather scant. The noun and verb to kip in BrEng is often said when a person wishes to take a short sleep or a ...
8
votes
5answers
19k views

“Shnide”? “Schneid”? Which is it and what's this term's origin?

"Getting off the shnide." (Obviously I'm not sure of the spelling.) It's an expression I hear almost exclusively in sports commentary to indicate a team has finally won a game after a protracted ...
2
votes
2answers
171 views

“You just won the lottery? Chapeau!”

"You just won the lottery? Chapeau!" This is the first time I have seen such usage in English. Literally 'Chapeau' means 'hat', but the intention (that I get from the internet) is something ...
9
votes
4answers
7k views

Why is the initial “ts” sound (e.g “tsunami”) pronounced as “s”?

Why is the word "tsunami" often pronounced as "sunami"? Can English speakers pronounce "ts"? Is it because the initial "ts" looks foreign?
0
votes
0answers
216 views

Word/Phrase List to Describe Different Types of Relationships

The Swedish language has a big list of the words which describe the various types of the relationships. Many of those words just were coined recently. There is even the word which describes the people ...
2
votes
1answer
205 views

Words Starting with Double Consonants

Double consonants often appear in the middle or at the end of a word like: kitty, Eiffel, thriller, brilliant bass, guess, basketball However, I wonder if there are any words (including ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the origin of the place name “Abbottabad?”

We know that Abbottabad is named after Major James Abbott, an officer in the Indian Army who founded the town. But where does the "...abad" come from? Does it have any relationship to the English word ...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

Is schmuck really an obscene word?

Schmuck is supposedly an obscene Yiddish term for the male sex organ, yet it appears all of the time in the media as an American idiom for a jerk. Can one use it in polite company?
5
votes
4answers
709 views

Is it common to use the borrowed noun-adjective form for borrowed French phrases?

Lately, something has struck me. I've been hearing several expressions in English, some clearly borrowed from French and preserving their noun-adjective form. Some examples are: Attorney General ...
1
vote
1answer
62 views

What does tympany mean? [closed]

There is tympanic cavity but also intestinal tympany (distended bowel). I cannot see relation. What does tympany mean?
3
votes
2answers
180 views

How common is the French loanword “métier”?

Our daughter lives in Leeds and is a scientist too, although not in my field, her speciality is haematology. My son lives in Manchester at the moment, for the music scene, he says. He writes his ...
4
votes
2answers
174 views

Word for letters from a foreign or unknown language

I used to describe these characters as Cyrillic ("I don't understand the cyrillic text on this poster"), but I learned today that Cyrillic is an actual type of script/alphabet! Is there an English ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

What led to the increased usage of “schtupping”?

I was listening to a television show the other day and one of the characters used "schtupping": schtupping — to have sexual intercourse with Dictionary.com notes that the term's origin is ...
15
votes
6answers
3k views

When using the French word “sans” in an English sentence, should I use italics?

In the sentence, below, I am using the French word sans to mean without. Should sans be italicized? Or, should all of "sans human civilization" be italicized? Planet Earth sans human civilization ...
21
votes
5answers
2k views

What does “bupke” mean?

There was the following passage in the New Yorker's (August 27) article titled, “A scandal at the C.I.A. May be.” : In January I (David Shafer, novelist) filed a Freedom of Information Act request ...
0
votes
1answer
88 views

What is the correct usage of arriviste/parvenu? [closed]

In one of the episodes of the TV show Rosemary & Thyme the word arriviste/parvenu was used. Context how it was used: Person A considers person B as an arriviste/parvenu. Person A is rich and ...
2
votes
4answers
212 views

Is “chutzpah” used by non-Jewish English speakers?

Chutzpah is a term common to both Hebrew and Yiddish, and has been imported into English, at least for Jews. It means approximately audacity, nerve, insolence. Is chutzpah also used by non-Jewish ...
0
votes
1answer
520 views

Survey vs Surveil

Is survey just an Anglicisation of the loan-word surveil, or have the meanings split? http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/survey and http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/surveil suggests that ...
17
votes
7answers
88k views

Pronunciation of “cache”

I have been pronouncing the word "cache" as kaysh. I know a few people who pronounce it more like cash, cashay or even catch. After consulting a few dictionaries, it turns out that the correct ...
8
votes
6answers
9k views

How did “gesundheit” work its way into common American usage?

Once upon a time I was hanging out with a fairly international group of people. Somebody sneezed, and one of the Americans reflexively responded, "Gesundheit!" A German in the group seized on the ...
4
votes
4answers
10k views

Pronunciation of foreign words in American vs. British English?

One of the differences between modern US English (hereafter referred to as "American English") and British English is the way in which we pronounce foreign words, particularly those of French origin ...
18
votes
5answers
24k views

“Czar” vs “tsar” - origins and pronunciation

How did the word come into English with the two variants czar and tsar? The 'ts' spelling is a transliteration of the Russian 'царь', but the 'cz' spelling is what interests me more. To me it looks ...
23
votes
5answers
2k views

How do you spell Muammar Qaddafi?

This name, which is spelled القذافي in Arabic, is spelled in so many different ways in the Latin alphabet: Gadafi, Gadaffi, Gaddafi, Gaddaffi, Gadhafi, Gadhaffi, Ghadafi, Ghadaffi, Ghaddafi, ...
21
votes
3answers
47k views

Why is the word 'bologna' pronounced like 'baloney'?

Why is the word 'bologna' (as in a bologna sandwich) pronounced so differently from the way it's spelled? The word 'lasagna' isn't pronounced 'lasagney'... The American sausage is derived from a ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

What loan-words keep their native pronunciation?

Being a non-native English speaker I recently discovered that for some words you don't use English pronunciation. For instance you seem to be omitting the l's when saying tortilla. Yet this isn't ...
2
votes
1answer
459 views

Spelling of the word “connoisseur”

From what I gathered on the Web, "connoisseur" is spelled that way because it is derived from the old french verb "connoître" (to know) which has now been spelt "connaître" for close to two ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

Should the English word for noodles be ''lamen'' or ''ramen''? [closed]

The Chinese word for noodles is lamen, or la-mien, and the Japanese also call it lamen, using their hiragana/katana syllaby. So the word is spoken with the L sound in both China and Japan (Taiwan, ...
5
votes
3answers
348 views

Anglicization from Hebrew

How should one transliterate the well-known Jewish Holiday that usually takes place in December (or late November)? Hannukah or Chanukah
12
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6answers
3k views

How would you spell “Tehran” in English for it to be pronounced “correctly” (i.e. as in Persian)?

Native English speakers do not pronounce the h in Tehran so it is pronounced like "Teran". But in the original pronunciation in Persian the h is pronounced, resulting in /tehˈɾɒːn/. Is there any ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is baba ghanouj pronounced with a final “sh” sound?

Baba ghanouj is a delicious Middle Eastern dip made from roast eggplant and garlic. I've found the name spelled a multitude of different ways on the internet, but there are two peculiar things about ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is “poignant” pronounced /ˈpɔɪɲənt/?

I felt a little bit strange when I heard poignant pronounced as /ˈpɔɪɲənt/. It is also pronounced as /ˈpɔɪgnənt/, but the former seems to be more popular. A word stagnant has similar spelling, but ...
6
votes
3answers
675 views

Using “RSVP” as a noun

RSVP literally means "Please respond", however it seems to have turned itself into a noun in common usage: "What's your RSVP for the party?" "I'm attending" Is it acceptable to refer to a ...
2
votes
1answer
90 views

A term for redundancy in loan words?

Unfortunately, I can only think of one example at the moment, but, sometimes a loan or borrowed phrase is redundant because it includes in it both the lending and borrowing languages' words for the ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

“Quyer” When and why did the spelling change so drastically?

The snippet above is taken from The Gentleman's Magazine (London, England), Volume 53, dated, 1783. It's only when you say Quyer out loud, do you realize what the word is. It is one of the ...
3
votes
7answers
7k views

Is there an equivalent of the spanish “que hueva” slang expression in English to denote that you feel lazy about doing something?

In Spanish slang, particularly in the west, the expressions "que hueva" or "me da hueva" are used, respectively, to convey that you are lazy about doing something. The context might be as follows: A: ...
-2
votes
2answers
1k views

How do you decline nouns borrowed from languages with several categories for declining nouns (or none at all)?

English has two grammatical categories of number. One is the singular, and the other is the plural. Many nouns in English have different singular and plural forms. When nouns are borrowed from ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

From French “manœuvre” to English “manoeuvre”, does “œ” exist in English?

Sadly, I don’t have much to add from the title to this question: does œ exist in English, such as in the word manœuvre? The same question may also apply to what the French call the “e dans l’a” (e in ...
0
votes
3answers
258 views

Word for sharing an old experience with someone new

Jamais vu is when an experience that is old to you suddenly seems new. But I'm looking for something even more specific. Is there a word for that feeling you get when an old experience is refreshed ...