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List of English words of French origin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The percentage of modern English words derived from each language group are as follows:Anglo-Norman French then French: ~29%Latin (including words used only in scientific, medical or legal contexts): ~29%Germanic: ~26%Others: ~16%
The percentage of modern English words derived from each language group are as follows:
Anglo-Norman French then French: ~29%
Latin (including words used only in scientific, medical or legal contexts): ~29%
Germanic: ~26%
Others: ~16%

A great number of words of French origin have entered the English language to the extent that many Latin words have come to the English language. According to different sources, 45% of all English words have a French origin.[1] This suggests that 80,000 words should appear in this list; this list, however, only includes words imported directly from French, such as both joy and joyous, and does not include derivatives formed in English of words borrowed from French, including joyful, joyfulness, partisanship, and parenthood. It also excludes both combinations of words of French origin with words whose origin is a language other than French — e.g., ice cream, sunray, jellyfish, killjoy, lifeguard, and passageway— and English-made combinations of words of French origin — e.g., grapefruit (grape + fruit), layperson (lay + person), mailorder, magpie, marketplace, surrender, petticoat, and straitjacket. This list also excludes words that come from French but were introduced into the English language via a language other than French, which include commodore, domineer, filibuster, ketone, loggia, lotto, mariachi, monsignor, oboe, paella, panzer, picayune, ranch, vendue, and veneer.

Although French is mainly from Latin (which accounts for about 60% of English vocabulary either directly or via a Romance language), it also includes words from Gaulish and Germanic languages (especially Old Frankish). Since English is of Germanic origin, words that have entered English from the Germanic elements in French might not strike the eye as distinctively from French. Conversely, as Latin gave many derivatives to both the English and the French languages, ascertaining that a given Latinate derivative did not come to the English language via French can be difficult in a few cases.

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/5
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  • ✪ Formal & Informal Vocabulary: Using French words in English
  • ✪ 10 English Words BORROWED From Other Languages (French, Japanese, Chinese etc.)
  • ✪ Words of French Origin 1
  • ✪ The Origin of English Words (English Etymology)
  • ✪ words of french origin : part 5


Hi, everyone. I'm Jade. What we're talking about today is a little bit of a history lesson of the English language. We're going to talk about why English has so many synonyms, why we don't just have one word to things, sometimes there's more than one word for it. I'm also going to talk about informal language and formal language, why there's always so much of a choice in English. And the reason is because we always have this split in English between words that come from an Anglo Saxon origin and words that come from a French origin, and it's said that about 30... 30% of words actually have a... Can't speak today. Have a French origin and we still use those words today. And generally, the ones that come from French, they have a more formal quality to them, and the ones that come from Anglo Saxon are more neutral and they're the ones that native speakers use all time when they're speaking just among each other. But first I'm going to recite a little bit of a poem for you because this poem comes from Middle English, and the English that you'll hear is really different to the English that I'm speaking now. It will be like I'm speaking a different language, but what you will hear is the blend between Anglo Saxon words and French words. Okay? So let's see if I remember it. Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote And bathed every veyne in swich licour, Of which vertu engendred is the flour. And I could continue, but I won't. And that comes from a really famous poem in English taken from The Canterbury Tales, and it's the first part of The Canterbury Tales called the general prologue. And it's in Middle English, the time when the peasants spoke Anglo Saxon English-peasants are the poor people-and all the rulers spoke French. And the reason that happened is because in 1066 there was a big battle when a French king of a part of France called Normandy came and defeated the English king at that time, and then he became king of England. So when he became king of England, he brought all his people over and the language of power in England at that time became French. So everybody who was in a position of power spoke French. So in the course the... Every decision-maker in England spoke French. Meanwhile, all the peasants just carried on speaking Anglo Saxon like they did before, and the words that they used and the language they spoke came from Germany and Norway. They were different tribes and before they came over to England. So there were two different languages going on. Plus it was only much later that the two... The two languages blended to become one language that we speak now that we have both, have both Anglo Saxon words and French words in our language. What else is important to say about it? I know there's something I've missed. Hopefully I'll remember what I missed. Oh yes. And because the kings and the ruling people spoke in French and the peasants spoke in Anglo Saxon, I feel like that distinction is still there. So when we're not trying to be formal or official or anything, we use words of Anglo Saxon origin. Only when we're trying to express ourselves in a very elegant way or an official way do we use the French origin words. So even though our language has become one thing, we're still keeping this idea in our language that the French words are sort of higher. And this is also important for you because when you learn English, especially if you already speak a European language, a Latin European language, it's often so easy for you to learn a lot of the verbs because they just sound the same, and so you don't bother with phrasal verbs because you've already got a verb you can use that's almost the same in your own language. But the problem is this gives your speech a really formal quality so you're not speaking like a native speaker at all. And this is also to do with Anglo Saxon because we get all our phrasal verbs from the Anglo Saxon origin. So that's something that we'll talk about in the next part of the lesson, but first before we get there I also want to give you some examples to do with meat and animals. Maybe in your country you just have the same word for the animal and for the meat. It's the same thing, right? Well, in English we have different words. Here are the words for the animal, and these are Anglo Saxon words. So the Anglo Saxons were the peasants and they were working on the farm with the animals, and these are the words they had for the animals: "sheep", "deer", "cow", "hen". One-syllable words. Typical. Typical-sounding, short, Anglo Saxon words. Meanwhile, the kings and the rulers-that's supposed to be like a big piece of chicken or something-they ate lots of meat and they had different words. They didn't touch the animals on the farm, they just ate the animals. They had the word: "mutton". "Mutton" is an old sheep. We don't actually really eat mutton now in England. We eat lamb, which is a young... A younger sheep. Deer is "venison", the meat for that is called "venison". The meat for cow is "beef", and the meat for hen is "poultry." This is a more general word for... This is a more general word for chicken and other birds that you can eat. We can also thank the French people who came and conquered us in 1066 for the words that they brought into the language to do with the food. I don't know what the peasants of that time ate, but French brought us lots of words, like: "cuisine", "soup", "spice", "mayonnaise". So, we... We have... We still always take a lot of cooking words from French. Plus, as I said to you, the French were in positions of power. That's the reasons why so many of our words to do with finance and government come from French. "Mortgage", "parliament", "interest". When we come back we're going to look at some more specific comparisons of Anglo Saxon and French words. Okay, let's compare some of those Anglo Saxon words and the French words. On the... Here we've got the... Oh, that's silly of me. Here the Anglo Saxon words, here are the French words. And I mentioned to you that phrasal verbs come from Anglo Saxon origin. The ones that come from French, these are the more formal verbs. So if you use these in speech people will know what you're talking about, but compared to a native speaker your speech will have more formal quality. Also, that means that these are things that you actually need to learn if your language is one of the European Latin languages because these words are not related to the... To the word that you use. So we've got: "ask for", ask for something means "enquire". "Keep on" doing something means "continue". "Blow up" something means "explode". "Run away" means "escape". "Put out", for example, a fire, means "extinguish". "Go up" means "increase". And "go down" means "decrease". Another thing I'll mention about this is our newspapers here in England, we have lots of different kinds of newspapers. We have ones called tabloids. Tabloids are... Like, you could call them the popular press. They're much more likely to write in phrasal verbs, whereas the broadsheet newspaper is the more respectable press, write in the French origin verbs. But like I said, people don't necessarily speak like this. Writing is a bit different. Then let's compare some just vocabularies and general vocabulary. We've got the French words here and the Anglo Saxon words-because I did it wrong-on this side. So I'm wearing a "shirt", that's a regular shirt, not a fancy word, but the French origin word: "blouse". Sounds a little bit fancy in English English. "Answer", to answer something means the same as "reply" in the French origin word. Anglo Saxon word is "weird", but the French origin word is "strange". We talk about "behaviour" in Anglo Saxon, but in French it's "manner". "Belongings" become "property". And "folk" become "people". "Folk" is one of my favourite words. It's so simple and it's just one syllable as well. It's a really good example of just Anglo Saxon clarity in sound, and also being... It just makes sense, so you kind of just sharp words, "folk". And "people" is, you know, is a bit longer. So yeah, here is a little introduction I would say to Anglo Saxon and French, and how it all comes together over the years to make up the English that we speak today. So, what you can do now is go to the engVid website to do the quiz, check how good you are with this vocabulary. And if you did like this video, please do subscribe here to my engVid channel, also my personal channel because I've got two YouTube channels because one isn't enough for me. Thank you so much for watching. And come and join me again soon for more videos. Okay. Bye.


Historical context

Most of the French vocabulary now appearing in English was imported over the centuries following the Norman Conquest of 1066, when England came under the administration of Norman-speaking peoples. William the Conqueror invaded the British Isles, distributing lands and property to the Normans. As a result, Anglo-Norman French became the language of culture and the administration. The majority of the population of England continued to use their Anglo-Saxon language, but it was influenced by the language of the ruling elite, resulting in doublets. Consider for example the words for the meats eaten by the Anglo-Norman nobility and the corresponding animals raised by the Anglo-Saxon peasants: beef / ox, mutton / sheep, veal / calf, pork / pig, or pairs of words pertaining to different registers of language: commence / start, continue / go on, disengage / withdraw, encounter / meet, vend / sell, purchase / buy, commerce / trade. Words of French origin often refer to more abstract or elaborate notions than their Anglo-Saxon equivalents (e.g. liberty / freedom, justice / fairness), and are therefore of less frequent use in everyday language. This may not, however, be the case for all English words of French origin. Consider, for example: able, car, chair, city, country, fine, fruit, journey, juice, just, part, people, real, stay, table, travel, use, very, and wait.

After the rise of Henry Plantagenet to the throne of England, other forms of dialectal French may have gained in influence to the detriment of Anglo-Norman French (notably the variants of Anjou where the House of Plantagenet came from, and possibly Poitevin, the tongue of Eleanor of Aquitaine). With the English claim to the throne of France, the influence of the language in use at the royal court of France in Paris increased. The cultural influence of France remained strong in the following centuries and from the Renaissance onward borrowings were mainly made from Parisian French, which became the de facto standard language of France.

Notable fields of French influence


Norman rule of England had a lasting impact on British society. Words from Anglo-Norman or Old French include terms related to chivalry (homage, liege, peasant, government, seigniorage, suzerain, vassal, villain) and other institutions (bailiff, chancellor, council, government, mayor, minister, parliament), the organisation of religion (abbey, clergy, cloister, diocese, friar, mass, parish, prayer, preach, priest, sacristy, vestment, vestry, vicar), the nobility (baron, count, dame, duke, marquis, prince, sir), and the art of war (armour, baldric, dungeon, hauberk, mail, portcullis, rampart, surcoat). Many of these words related to the feudal system or medieval warfare have a Germanic origin (mainly through Old Frankish) (see also French words of Germanic origin).

The Norman origin of the British monarchy is still visible in expressions like Prince Regent, heir apparent, Princess Royal where the adjective is placed after the noun, like in French.


The vocabulary of heraldry has been heavily influenced by French (blazon, or, argent, sable, gules, passant), for more details see tinctures, attitudes, and charges of heraldry.

Sometimes used in heraldry, some mythological beasts (cockatrice, dragon, griffin, hippogriff, phoenix) or exotic animals (lion, leopard, antelope, gazelle, giraffe, camel, zebu, elephant, baboon, macaque, mouflon, dolphin, ocelot, ostrich, chameleon) draw their name from French. It is also the case of some animals native of Europe (via Anglo-Norman: eagle, buzzard, falcon, squirrel, coney, rabbit, leveret, lizard, marten, ferret, salmon, viper).


The vocabulary of warfare and the military include many words of French origin (battalion, dragoon, soldier, marine, grenadier, guard, officer, infantry, cavalry, army, artillery, corvette, musketeer, carabineer, pistol, fusilier, squad, squadron, platoon, brigade, corps, sortie, reconnaissance/reconnoitre, surrender, surveillance, rendezvous, espionage, volley, siege, terrain, troop, camouflage, logistics, matériel, accoutrements, bivouac, latrine, aide-de-camp, legionnaire, morale, esprit de corps, cordon sanitaire). This includes military ranks: corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, colonel, general, admiral. Many fencing terms are also from French.

Politics and economics

The political/economic lexicon include many words of French origin like money, treasury, exchequer, commerce, finance, tax, liberalism, capitalism, materialism, nationalism, plebiscite, coup d'état, regime, sovereignty, state, administration, federal, bureaucracy, constitution, jurisdiction, district.


The judicial lexicon has also been heavily influenced by French (justice, judge, jury, attorney, court, case).


attaché, chargé d'affaires, envoy, embassy, chancery, diplomacy, démarche, communiqué, aide-mémoire, détente, entente, rapprochement, accord, treaty, alliance, passport, protocol.


art, music, dance, theatre, author, stage, paint, canvas, perform, harmony, melody, rhythm, trumpet, note, director, gallery, portrait, brush, pallet, montage, surrealism, impressionism, fauvism, cubism, symbolism, art nouveau, gouache, aquarelle, collage, render, frieze, grisaille.


aisle, arcade, arch, vault, voussoir, belfry, arc-boutant, buttress, bay, lintel, estrade, facade, balustrade, terrace, lunette, niche, pavilion, pilaster, porte cochère.

Aviation and automobile engineering

France played a pioneering role in the fields of aviation (nacelle, empennage, fuselage, aileron, altimeter, canard, decalage, monocoque, turbine) and automobile engineering or design (chassis, piston, arbor, grille, tonneau, berline, sedan, limousine, cabriolet, coupé, convertible).


baba au rhum, beef, beef bourguignon, boudin, caramel, casserole, cassoulet, clafoutis, confit, consommé, cream, croissant, custard, filet mignon, fillet, foie gras, flognarde, fondant, fondue, gateau, gratin, marmalade, mayonnaise, meringue, mille-feuille, mustard, mutton, navarin, pâté, pastry, petit four, pork, ragout, roux, salad, sauce, sausage, soufflé, stew, terrine, trifle, veal.

Colours and Other Influences

Other influences include the names of colours (ecru, mauve, beige, carmine, maroon, blue, orange, violet, vermilion, turquoise, lilac, perse, scarlet, cerise), vegetables or fruits (courgette, aubergine, cabbage, carrot, cherry, chestnut, cucumber, nutmeg, quince, spinach, lemon, orange, apricot), and months of the year (January, March, May, July, November, December).

Terms coined by French people

Some of the French words that made their way into the English language were coined by French inventors, discoverers or pioneers, or scientists: cinema, television, helicopter, parachute, harmonium, bathyscaphe, lactose, lecithin, bacteriophage, chlorophyll, mastodon, pterodactyl, oxide, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, photography, stethoscope, thermometer, stratosphere, troposphere.

Named after French people

Some French words were named after French people (from their family name), especially in the fields of science (ampere, appertisation, baud, becquerel, braille, coulomb, curie, daguerreotype, pascal, pasteurise, vernier), botany and mineralogy (begonia, bougainvillea, clementine, magnolia, dolomite, nicotine), fashion and style or any other cultural aspect (lavalier, leotard, recamier, mansard, chauvinism, kir, praline, saxophone, silhouette, guillotine).

Proper names

The names of certain cities in non-francophone regions/countries entered English with French spelling (Constance, Ypres, Bruges, Louvain, Turin, Milan, Plaisance, Florence, Rome, Naples, Syracuse, Vienna, Prague, Munich, Cologne, Aix-la-Chapelle, Seville, Constantinople).

In North America, the names of some of the Native American peoples or First Nations the French came in contact with first are from French (Sioux, Saulteaux, Iroquois, Nez Perce, Huron, Cheyenne, Algonquin). It is also the case of some place names such as Canada, Arkansas, Michigan, Illinois, Maine, Vermont, Des Moines, Detroit, Chicago and Baton Rouge.

Main patterns of influence

Some words from Old French have been imported again from Middle French or Modern French, but have generally taken a more restrictive or specialised meaning the second time. Consider for instance : chief / chef, luminary / luminaire, liquor / liqueur, castle / château, hostel / hotel, mask / masque, necessary / nécessaire, petty / petit, ticket / etiquette, troop / troupe, vanguard / avant-garde. Note that the word in French has kept the general meaning: e.g. château in French means "castle" and chef means "chief". Even when not imported several times in different forms, loanwords from French generally have a more restrictive or specialised meaning than in French: e.g. legume (in Fr. légume means "vegetable"), gateau (in Fr. gâteau means "cake").

In some cases, the English language has been more conservative than the French one with Old French words, at least in spelling if not in pronunciation: e.g. apostle (O.Fr. apostle / M.Fr. apôtre), castle (O.Fr. castel or chastel / M.Fr. château), forest (O.Fr. forest / M.Fr. forêt), vessel (O.Fr. vaissel / M.Fr. vaisseau). Other Old French words have even disappeared from Modern French: dandelion.

On the other hand, a move to restore the classical roots (Latin or Ancient Greek) occurred in the 16th and 17th centuries. Thus words from Old French saw their spelling re-Latinized. Although in most cases this did not affect their pronunciation (e.g. debt, doubt, indict, mayor), in some cases it did (e.g. abnormal, adventure, benefit). The ph transcription of words of Greek etymology was restored instead of the f. Thus fantosme became phantom, fesan became pheasant. This move occurred also in French, although less systematically: Old French farmacie became pharmacie ("pharmacy"), fenix became phénix ("phoenix"), but fantosme became fantôme ("phantom, ghost") and fesan became faisan ("pheasant").

Beside re-Latinization that blurred the French origin of some words (e.g. peradventure), other modifications in spelling have included folk etymology alterations (e.g. belfry, crayfish, gillyflower, gingerbread, penthouse, pickaxe).

Furthermore, the spelling of some words was changed to keep the pronunciation as close to the original as possible (e.g. leaven), whereas in other cases the French spelling was kept and resulted in totally different pronunciation than French (e.g. leopard, levee). Terms that most recently entered the English language have kept French pronunciation and spelling (ambiance, aplomb, arbitrage, armoire, barrage, bonhomie, bourgeoisie, brochure, bureau, café, camaraderie, catalogue, chauffeur, collage, cortege, critique, debris, décor, dossier, élite, entourage, ennui, entrepreneur, espionage, expertise, exposé, financier, garage, genre, glacier, intrigue, liaison, lingerie, machine, mirage, montage, panache, penchant, plaque, promenade, rapport, repertoire, reservoir, sabotage, sachet, souvenir, terrain, tranche), though this may change with time (e.g. the initial h in hotel is not silent anymore, consider also the evolving pronunciation of herb, or garage). Expressions like femme fatale, bête noire and enfant terrible are still recognisably French.

Borrowings are not a one-way process (See Reborrowing), some words of French origin ultimately come from Old English (Anglo-Saxon words): e.g. bateau, chiffon, gourmet. While conversely English words of French origin made their way "back" into Modern French: budget, challenge, design, discount, fuel, gay, gin, humour, interview, jury, management, mess, pedigree, record, reporter, spleen, sport, squat, standard, suspense, tennis, ticket, toast, toboggan, tunnel, vintage.





See also


  1. ^ "Why Study French". Athabasca University.

External links

This page was last edited on 7 January 2019, at 09:44
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