From the 80,000 English words, roughly 28% originate from Latin, 28% from French, and 25% from Germanic languages. To honor those countries that shared their words, whether intentional or not, here is a list of six words that English speakers may not know as foreign. Truth be told, there are thousands of words to choose from but this will give those who are taking English classes or those who are learning how to be a motivational speaker in the Philippines have an idea about the origin of English words. Because of this, a lot of educational sectors seek the help of educational publishing services to get the word out and spread knowledge around. After all, how many people know that “gung ho” is Mandarin Chinese for “gongye hezhoushe”, which means work in harmony?
As demonstrated in horror movies, a poltergeist is some sort of paranormal and usually violent activity taking place around those who are deeply troubled or have been traumatized. The word itself comes from “poltern”, which means to make noise, and “geist”, which means ghost. Most of the activity has been attributed to physical or electrical skeptics but, like with anything paranormal, there are cases that are too strange to be explained by logic.
This is an ancient Greek word that means “glory” or “renown”. In ancient Greek culture, glory was always found in the battlefield, much like with every other civilization. It is considered as a serious insult when a soldier is refused his earned due or kudos. A popular example of kudos is in the Iliad when Agamemnon takes the maiden Briseis from the soldier Achilles as a gift of honor.
The British Army was known for their bright red uniforms until the 19th century. This earned their nickname “redcoats”. This made them
an easy target, especially since they have formations. However, if you look at the British Army now, they are now wearing a different and more sensible color: khaki. The British began to use this cloth and color found in their colonization of India, hence the name khaki, which means “dusty” or “earth” in Hindi.
The origins of this Arabic word date back to the 9th century, when an Islamic sect was led to overthrow the Suni Muslims. The founder of the group, Yemeni Shiite Hasan-I Sabbah, set about his mission by targeting the enemies’ leaders. Their group was given the name Hashshashin, meaning hashish-eaters, and was converted into English in 1603 as “assassin”.
Beserk refers to an Old Norse word that was used to describe Viking warriors. The word means “bear shirt” for the bearskins that the warriors used instead of armor. The warriors believed that by wearing the skins and working themselves into a war frenzy will give them the strength of bears. Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish historical novelist, began using the word in the 1822 in his book The Pirate, more than one thousand years after the Viking Invasions.
Confetti is an Italian word to mean “candy”, specifically the sugared almonds and other sweet confections eaten during special occasions like weddings and first communions. However, the custom of throwing confetti did not come from Italy. In the ancient times, small food items like rice and nuts were thrown during times of celebration to represent fertility and abundance.
Impress your friends with your new knowledge of the English language! Go ahead and flaunt your skills; share to others the origins of these words and see what they think.