The English Language

Borrowed Words From
Norman French

154 Words Listed


Norman French Language Notes

Norman French is the 11th century language of France and England. It is an Indo-European language.

In 1066, the Norman king, William the Conquerer, invaded England. Many Norman French words entered the language after this. In general, the Normans were the nobility, while the native English were their servants. The names of domestic animals and their meats show this relationship. The animal name is English ("cow", "sheep", "pig") while the names of the meats derived from these animals is French ("beef", "mutton", "pork").

Many words have been borrowed from Norman French. These can be grouped into several types:

Legal terms ("adultery", "slander"), military words ("surrender", "occupy"), names of meats ("bacon", "venison") and words from the royal court ("chivalry", "majesty"). The non-metric unit of volume (the "gallon") is Norman French. There are many other words.

The Normans introduced the QU spelling for words containing KW ("question").


WordMeaningNotes
accuse   One of many legal words from Norman French.
adultery    
archer   One of several military words from Norman French.
assault    
asset enough  
bacon   Cured pig's meat. One of many names for meats from Norman French.
bail to take charge Security for a prisoner's appearance.
bailiff carrier Officer who executes writs.
beef   Meat of ox or cow.
butcher seller of goat flesh A dealer in meat.
button    
chivalry horseman One of many words used in royal life from Norman French.
comfort strengthen  
court retenue  
courtesy    
cricket   A ball game played in the UK, Caribbean, parts of Africa and Asia, Australia, New Zealand.
crime judgement  
curfew cover fire Period to be off the streets.
custard   Baked mixture of eggs and milk.
defeat    
dungeon   Underground prison.
duty    
eagle   Large bird of prey.
elope run away  
embezzle ravage  
enemy non friend  
error    
evidence    
exchequer   A national treasury.
fashion make  
felony   A serious crime.
fraud    
gallon jug A unit of liquid volume (= 4.546 x 10-3 m3 in UK; = 3.785 x 10-3 m3 in USA)
goblin    
gourd    
grammar art of letters  
grease fat  
grief    
grocer   Food dealer. Originally 'one who deals in the gross'.
gutter drop Track for water.
haddock   A type of fish.
havoc    
hogmanay   Now a Scottish festival at New Year.
honour    
injury wrong Wrongful action or damage.
jettison throw overboard  
joy    
judge right speaking  
jury swear  
justice    
larceny   The crime of theft.
launch hurl  
lavender   Perfumed shrub.
lease leave  
leisure allowed Free time.
lever to raise  
liable may be bound  
libel little book  
liberty free  
liquorice sweet root Originally from a Greek root, 'glico riza'.
mackerel   A type of fish.
majesty    
mangle    
manor remain  
marriage    
matrimony   From the same root as 'matriarch' (mother).
mayhem    
mutton   Meat of sheep.
noble    
noun name  
nurse nourish  
occupy seize  
odour smell  
parliament speaking Ruling council in countries like UK.
pedigree crane's foot From 'pe de gru'. Because bird's feet marks resemble a family tree.
penthouse    
perjury   False statement under oath.
pinch   As in 'grip tightly'.
platter big plate  
pleasure    
pocket small bag  
pork   The meat of the pig.
prison lay hold of  
profound deep  
purloin put away  
purveyor   Supplier of food.
push    
quarter   The Normans introduced the QU spelling for the KW sound.
question    
quiet    
quiver   The arrow case.
rape take by force  
reason    
rebuke   Originally 'to cut down wood'.
rebut    
recover    
remedy to heal  
renown to make famous  
rent   The same root as 'render'.
repeal    
reprieve send back  
reprisal    
retail piece cut off  
reward    
river    
robe    
royal    
rummage    
salary salt Soldiers used to be paid with salt.
salmon   A type of fish.
scavenger tax collector  
scullery maker of dishes  
search    
sermon    
sewer   Originally a channel to carry off overflow from a fishpond.
share    
shop cobbler's stall  
sir   From 'sire'.
slander    
soil Called 'dirt' in the USA.  
sovereign    
spawn    
spy    
squirrel little shadow tail  
stubble grain stalks  
subsidy support  
suitor    
surname   Family name.
surplus    
surrender    
survey    
survive over live  
syllable    
tally mark on a stick Tally sticks were used to record financial transactions.
tax to charge  
toil stir  
treason    
treaty    
uncle    
usher door keeper  
valley    
veal    
veil    
venison to hunt Deer meat
vicar assistant  
vice    
view    
virgin    
vulture   Large bird of prey.
wafer    
waive    
warden   Same root as 'guardian'.
wicket gate Wooden sticks used in the game of cricket.
wreck    

[Borrowed Words (Nepali)] [Borrowed Words (Norse)]

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