Etymological Lists

In the English language, approximately 30% of words have French origins and another 30% come from Latin. About a quarter of words come from other Germanic languages and 6% come from Greek. The remaining words mostly come from proper names or other languages, with words in the latter group almost invariably representing foods and animals foreign to England and the U.S.

The following lists show the etymological roots of some common words. The lists have been separated into different browsing categories. New words and lists are added on a regular basis.

Note Re: Original Languages

Modern speakers of the contributor languages listed on the pages linked below may not recognize the roots their languages have contributed to specific words. This is because many words or word parts that were adopted into English came from usages in the original languages have faded from use among native speakers, or even had their meanings entirely changed over time. For example, the nautical greeting "ahoy" that now exists in English came from the old Dutch word for "hello"; modern Dutch speakers, however, say "hallo" instead of "ahoy." Likewise, the Japanese word "geisha" has a very different meaning now in both Japanese- and English-speaking nations than it did when it originally contributed to English, when it simply referred to someone with good social skills.

The "meanings" given represent the original meanings that words had when they first made their way into English, which was literally thousands of years ago in many cases. These lists, therefore, should not be taken as reference guides to modern usage in any of these languages.

Etymology by Word Types

Etymology by Root Language

Note: Words from the major contributors – particularly French, Latin/Italian, Greek, Spanish, and German – are not listed; instead, the rarer contributors are featured here.

In the case of African and Native American/First Nations languages, the languages in each group are represented together, since few have contributed enough words to merit their own list. The only exceptions to this are the Algonquin languages and Nahuatl, which each have their own pages due to their large influence.

Copyright © Ashley, 2009 - . Part of Love and The Fanlistings Network.