There are plenty of pseudo-anglicisms in other languages around the world: Handy, Pullunder, Showmaster and Beamer¹ in German. These words, though borrowed from English, are used differently from their usual English meanings. Have any pseudo-anglicisms later become common English words?

¹ I’m mentioning Beamer (German word for projector) especially as there is a popular package for the LaTeX typesetting system that helps in creating projection slide; such uses could potentially spread a pseudo-anglicism.

  • It's doubtful that Beamer for a piece of software will ever catch on in the US since BMW's have already been nicknamed that phonetically- spelled either Beemer or Bimmer depending on whether it's a motorcycle or a car you're talking about; but pronounced the same either way. Are you talking about words like croissant?
    – Jim
    May 26, 2013 at 21:28
  • Have you observed this among anglophones in Germany? Perhaps you are thinning of a geographic or cultural context in which English overlaps with other languages. This occurs frequently with Japanese pop culture: Pokémon is a Japanese English contraction and abbreviation for pocket monster, karaoke is a portmanteau of kara (open) and orchestra; and anime is either derived from French image animé or English animation. Of course all these words are broadly used in English. Is that what you're getting at? May 26, 2013 at 22:25
  • 1
    Via LaTeX, "beamer" has spread into popular use in the hard sciences.
    – commonhare
    May 27, 2013 at 1:15
  • This is an interesting question, now that I know what a pseudo-anglicism is. I added a link and brief definition to the question to help other readers. May 27, 2013 at 9:41
  • 2
    No, not really. But here's an interesting one: the "oke" part of karaoke comes from "orche"stra. (The "kara" 空 means "empty".) So that's sort of English --> Japanese --> English. (Or Greek --> Latin --> English --> Japanese --> English, to be exhaustive.)
    – commonhare
    May 29, 2013 at 17:22

2 Answers 2


From Wikipedia: "Pseudo-anglicisms are related to false friends [hyperlinked] or false cognates [hyperlinked]. Many speakers of a language which employs pseudo-anglicisms believe that the relevant words are genuine anglicisms and can be used in English, which may cause misunderstandings. When many English words are incorporated into many languages, language enthusiasts and purists often look down on this phenomenon, terming it (depending on the importing language) Denglisch, Franglais or similar neologisms."

From Lloyd James' website (http://www.lloydbingham.co.uk/2013/02/top-5-pseudo-anglicisms-in-german.html) come the following pseudo-anglicisms:

downloader, streetworker, talkmaster, know-how, wellness, and beamer.

Of interest to readers of EL&U:

Wellness: "Germans will associate this word with being pampered at a Wellness-Hotel, perhaps in the secluded mountains of Austria where one can enjoy the utmost tranquility and relaxation. In English, we could probably just call this a spa." Streetworker: "The meaning of streetworker [the "real" English word being streetwalker!]is more innocent in German [than English], referring to a social worker rather than a lady who was the object of the 1978 single Roxanne by The Police."

In answer to your question, I am familiar with only one anglicism, and that is the Japanese/English term Walkman, which was a popular medium of portable music decades ago that featured a pint-size combination AM/FM radio and cassette player--with headphones (or ear-buds), of course.

  • Thanks for the explanation. I'm most familiar with the Japanese pseudo-Anglicisms called wasei-eigo. There are a few examples in the Wikipedia article that I would recognize as reasonable English, but I don't think it's because they were loaned back into English. Walkman is a good example, though, which did start out as wasei-eigo and caught on here better than the English-market name “Soundabout.” May 27, 2013 at 9:28
  • I think Walkman is different, because it started out as a trademark for portable audio cassette players by Sony. Similar to "Xerox" it was genericized. May 27, 2013 at 10:13
  • Yes, and it's surprising how many genericisms there are! Personally, I prefer to use "photocopy" rather than "Xerox," "bandage" rather than "Band-Aid," and "ibuprofen" and "acetaminophen" rather than "Motrin" and "Tylenol." It's just a "thing" of mine. Sorry I couldn't give you more examples of pseudo-anglicisms. Perhaps other EL&Uers will pipe in with examples. May 27, 2013 at 13:14
  • If walkman is now the common English word for a portable cassette player while originally coined in a different Languge, then for me, it’d count. May 28, 2013 at 7:38
  • Was walkman a word or even walk-man a set phrase in English, before Sony?
    – Kris
    Jun 1, 2013 at 7:39


The Japanese borrowed the English word animation, abbreviated it to anime and used it to refer animated movies and videos.

The English then took the word anime back, and used it to refer specifically to Japanese animated movies and videos.

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