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French Loanwords

by Taylor Pebley October 2nd, 2012 More

Did you know that there are around 200 words in the English language that are actually French loanwords? In fact, English shares words with a variety of other languages (and the same goes for many other common languages). This should be encouraging news for anyone considering learning a new language! But first…what are loanwords?

Loanwords are words and phrases that one language (English, in this case) borrows directly from another language (French) in everyday conversation, such as the word cliché. English includes loanwords from many different languages but has gained a significant number directly from Latin-based and Germanic languages. Some of these include French, Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch. Again, this is great news if you want to learn one of these languages.

Can’t think of any examples of French loanwords? See how many you recognize from this list of some of the most common:

Amateur, au jus, avalanche, baguette, ballet, bayonet, bistro, budget, café, carousel, casserole, cigarette, clarinet, corset, croissant, cuisine, cul-de-sac, debris, déjà vu, denim, entrepreneur, expose, faux pas, filet mignon, glacier, hors d’oeuvre, lesson, liaison, lieutenant, limousine, lingerie, maneuver, Mardi Gras, massage, matinee, mayonnaise, naivety, plateau, en pointe, premiere, provost, prude, questionnaire, renaissance, repertoire, sauce, sauté, souvenir, surveillance, tourniquet, vandalism, and village.

Click here for a complete list of French loanwords in English.

Were you surprised at how many you knew? Loanwords are used every day. If learning a new language intimidates you, start with one that has words in common with English, like French! You will find many more French loanwords as you learn.

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