I'm curious if there's any cases of a word that originated in English (didn't come from a foreign source) replacing another word in every day usage?

  • Do you mean a word that originated in English and that replaced another word that originated in a foreign language?
    – apaderno
    Feb 3, 2011 at 20:29
  • Both foreign and native origin for the original word would be fine. Feb 3, 2011 at 21:05
  • In Middle English, the verb need replaced the verb tharf. Both from Old English, and we certainly don't use tharf anymore. Jun 9, 2016 at 11:51

4 Answers 4


One example: Old English lið has been replaced by limb, both of native origin. This Wikipedia page has a bunch of such examples of obsolete words, though most of the replacement words are from other languages.


Something like thou? You is the form which has replaced the archaic thou.

  • Not so. Thou remains the second person singular-familiar. You is the second person formal or plural.
    – Theresa
    Sep 30, 2014 at 3:25
  • 2
    Thou remains? What kind of archaic dialect do you speak? Sep 30, 2014 at 4:30
  • I, personally, do not use "thou" in ordinary speech. Members of my father's family still use it, just within the family. "What thinkest thou?" They are/were Friends (Quakers) and the family came from Yorkshire. "You" may have replaced "ye", "thou" has a separate use.
    – Theresa
    Sep 30, 2014 at 5:57

The word withershins is rarely used anymore, it is the same as counter-clockwise or anti-clockwise, both with Latinate origin, both still English words.

  • More commonly spelled widdershins, when it does appear...
    – MT_Head
    Sep 30, 2014 at 4:42

In the U.S., doughnut (first OED citation 1809) replaced the Dutch-origin word olykoek (first OED citation 1795). For olykoek, a 1740 calque [translation] oily cake is cited, so the word olykoek may have been in use well before doughnut.

This first OED citation for doughnut is

D. Knickerbocker, Hist. N.Y. An enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog's fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks.

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