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Where did these English words come from?

While all languages borrow words from other languages, English is especially open to it, so that fully three-quarters of the words in the dictionary originated from foreign languages. Can you tell where the following words originated? For each word, choose the language you think it originated in. And don’t forget to boast about how well (or not ?) you did, in the comments!

  • Question of

    Catastrophe

    • German
    • Hungarian
    • Albanian
    • Greek
  • Question of

    Bungalow

    • Hindi
    • Irish
    • Manx
    • Polish
  • Question of

    Baroque

    • Latin
    • Arabic
    • Portuguese
    • Greek
  • Question of

    Cider

    • Gothic
    • Algonquin
    • Native English
    • Hebrew
  • Question of

    Whiskey

    • Apache
    • Gaelic
    • French
    • Japanese
  • Question of

    Adobe

    • Hebrew
    • Phoenician
    • Arabic
    • Italian
  • Question of

    Toboggan

    • Algonquin
    • Finnish
    • Mongolian
    • Zulu
  • Question of

    Hooligan

    • Sanskrit
    • Icelandic
    • Irish
    • Portuguese
  • Question of

    Goulash

    • Latvian
    • Hungarian
    • Russian
    • Basque
  • Question of

    Ombudsman

    • Swedish
    • Latvian
    • Irish
    • Native English

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What do you think?

25 points

58 Comments

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  1. You got 8 out of 10 right!

    Hey you’re a budding etymologist! I didn’t know Adobe had Arabic roots.

    (I was checking out your Quiz list and I seemed to have missed a few. Compiling such a list is really a great idea)

    • There are quite a few technical words in English that either have an Arabic origin, or came to English via Arabic, although the Arabs borrowed the word from Greek. For example, our word ‘alembic’ (used for distillation) comes from Arabic Ψ§Ω„Ψ§Ω†Ψ¨ΩŠΩ‚ which in turn was borrowed from Greek ‘ambix’ meaning cup. This is the kind of thing that gets me quite excited – although I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea πŸ˜€

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