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Generated : 16th June 2024


Dale C. Eddy
On the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee (Waters in the high place)

An update to the word list, specifically the Algonquin. Massachusetts was originally pronounced mah-CHA-chu-it. I may be wrong but I believe that the meaning is "The place near blue hills". Connecticut is also from the Algonquin 'Quonetiquot', though the meaning escapes me at the moment.



Liz Valette

Hi Kryss

An internet word search found me visiting your website. We'd been listening to radio 4's mid day prog U & yours. They were discussing bungalows & this prompted us to talk about the words which were of Indian origin. I've always been fascinated about the developement of our common language. Your site put me right about the origins of Piccadilly. I'd have bet good money it was because Daffodils once grew there or were sold there. I believe that I heard that on the radio!! Ho Hum, one is now getting on in years & my memory often fails me. I'm not an academic & although fairly bright I have no qualifications because I was too busy playing & mucking about at school. Sadly in the late 40's & early 50's one could get away with it. I work with a chap who's always moaning about the way youngsters speak these days. An example that gets him going is the expression is that something is 'Well Good'. I keep telling him that he's an old git & that language is fluid like water & always changing. He should move with the times. I feel the same about those who castigate the BBC about the pronounciation & use of english. Why don't they channel their energies into something useful instead of moaning & carping.

Thanks for an excellent & informative website. All the best.

KryssTal Reply: Thank you for your kind comments. Ta, me ol' china!


Swiss Institute

How about?:

"Golf" from the Dutch, not the Scots (who tend to pronouce this word: 'gulf' anyway.) Likewise: "gulf" from the Dutch? (I'm less sure of this one.) One from the Scots?: Glamour (UK); Glamor (US)

KryssTal Reply: Thank you.


Kobi Haron

Hi Krysstal,

I suspect that the words abacus, cider, coral, elephant, gauze, jockey, jot, jug and maudlin aren't from Hebrew, my native language. I don't have here a good dictionary to verify this, though. You could add "sack", but some people claim that this word reached English via Arabic.

Note also that Hindi and Urdu are very much the same language.

Your site is nice.

KryssTal Reply: Shalom,

"sack" is from Egyptian, but the pre-Arabic ancient form. It would be interesting to check the etymology of those words. perhaps they are from ancient Hebrew. The modern form (correct me if I am wrong) is called Ivrit and is slightly different. You are quite correct about Hindi and Urdu but they are now diverging (deliberately) since independence.


Hi Kryss,

Indeed modern Hebrew is not at all the same as ancient Hebrew. The old testament, which is written in ancient Hebrew has vocabulary and grammar which are quite different from the language we speak today, and some scholars regard them as two different languages. However there are large parts of the bible which are intelligible to modern Hebrew speakers, and the words I mentioned are not close to any words I know. When I have time I'll try to look up their etymologies. Ivrit means Hebrew in both ancient and modern Hebrew.

Have fun.


Paul Mercken

Dear KryssTal,

I very much enjoy your web site, especially the language section. Not being a native English speaker, but having spent 7 years in de U.K. and 11 in the U.S.A. and being a language freak myself, I surf all over the web for all kind of information regarding both English and other languages.

Currently I am puzzled about the etymology of the Dutch word 'tram', streetcar, obviously derived from the English 'tram' and/or 'tramways'. Both my Dutch Etymology pocket book (1983) and my The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1970) refer to an Old High German and Old Norse root meaning 'beam' or 'shaft'. However, according to my otherwise obsolete 1953 Dutch 'Winkler Prince Encyclopaedie', published by Elsevier, the word tramways is eponymous, short for "Outramways". According to that source, iron rails were applied by Outram in a coal mine in Sheffield in 1776. Soon similar railways were established by Outram all over England, known as Outramways. Originally they were only used for the transportation of goods.

It seems to me that if this is the case, the search for a linguistic connection with old or middle Germanic languages is superfluous. It should not be too difficult for anyone in the U.K. to check the accuracy of the Outram story. Could anyone confirm it?

Yours sincerely.


Tuomo Sarkikoski

interesting site!

SAUNA is certainly Finnish (even though the Swedish have tried to adopt it as their innovation...). I am not a specialist but I think you could add the word RAPAKIVI on your list as another Finnish word. It is a stone.

KryssTal Reply: Thank you for your kind comments.

Unfortunately, I have never heard of RAPAKIVI and it is not in my dictionary so I cannot add it.

There is such a word as RAPAKIVI and it is curious that it doesn't appear on the encyclopedia britannica. RAPAKIVI is a widely known geological term for a type of stone, and the whole word is in plain finnish (rapa means mud and kivi means stone).

a link related to RAPAKIVI:


Wark, DA, and Stimac, JA, 1992, Origin of mantled (rapakivi) feldspars:
Experimental evidence of a dissolution- and diffusion-controlled
mechanism: Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 111, 345-361


Diane Rabson
Boulder, Colorado

Here are some other words to add to the borrowed words into English list:

"kibitz"--from Yiddish--"To look on and offer unwanted, usually meddlesome advice to others." (American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed.)

Also, "ottoman"--from French--"An upholstered low seat or cushioned footstool." (same dictionary as above) We also call it a hassock (from Middle English.)

KryssTal Reply: Thanks,

"Kibitz" must be a word borrowed into American English so I am not familiar with it.

The ottoman is named after (named for ?) the Turkish Ottoman empire. The name is a corruption of "Osmanli" ("with Osman", the Turkish clan that founded the dynasty). This is similar to Damask which is a corruption of Damascus. The French had a lot of dealings in that part of the world.

Thanks for the additions - keep them coming.


Yes, I'm glad these were of use to you. Having been in the old Ottoman Empire two years ago, I was surprised that "kiosk" and "sofa" were not Turkish words.

I belong to a Yiddish club here in Boulder, and I will dig out more words for you. Yes, kibitz is used often in the US. Usually in card games, where people don't like snooping. The word occurs in the play "A Streetcar Named Desire," where Blanche Dubois hangs around the poker-playing, drinking men who resent her presence.


Dan Tilque

I have a question and some constructive suggestions for your borrowed words page.

You have silhouette as being a Basque word. This is a new etymology to me as it's generally considered an eponym, named after Etienne de Silhouette, a French controller general of finances. There is no consensus as to why it's named after him, but no one seems to doubt that it came from his name. Where did you get your etymology for this word?

Algonquin. This is both a large language family (usually spelled Algonquian) and a subgroup of the Ojibwa. The words you have under Algonquin come from various languages in the family. In addition, you have several Algonquian languages listed separately: Cree, Micmac, Mohican, Ojibwa, Potawatomi.

Often dictionaries can't decide which of the several Algonquian languages a specific word comes from (usually because it's found in more than one), so they just say Algonquian. This is the same as them not being able to decide on which Scandinavian language a word comes from so they just say Scandinavian. You didn't put Scandinavian in your list, I note.

But some of your Algonquin words are possible to ascribe to an individual language. For instance, according to Merriam-Webster,

caribou is from Micmac;
moccasin, raccoon and tomahawk are from Virginia Algonquian (formerly called Powhattan);
and wigwam is from Eastern Abenaki. Massachusetts is from the name of an Algonquian language called Massachusett (no final S) which is also the source of wampum.

I'm not sure about the other state names.

Well, except for Oregon, which has about half a dozen proposed origins but none that are definite. The most recent suggestion is that it comes from a Chinook Jargon word ooligan, the name of a fish widely traded by the Indians. I don't know how widely this new theory is accepted but it seems better than several of the others (e.g. from Spanish for oregano).

At any rate, I suggest you drop Algonquin and add Virginia Algonquian, Eastern Abenaki, and Massachusett.

Ammonia from Egyptian. The story I've heard is that ammonia comes from the name of the Egyptian god Ammon. There was a factory making it (probably from urine) next to a temple to Ammon.

I haven't examined your page completely, but I notice a few differences between our lists such as atoll (Divehi is spoken in the Maldives) and budgerigar (Yuwaalaraay is another native Australian language). Etymology is an inexact science and these are just the best guesses at the time of publication. (Note the change M-W made to the etymology of didgeridoo.) So I won't suggest that you should change your page about these words. If you want to, fine.

You have a nice page and the above suggestions are made in the interest of making it better.

KryssTal Reply: Thank you for your comments. It's back to the books again. But that's the fun isn't it?


Lita Arkin

Hebrew has never been an extinct language. It was used throughout the Middle Ages and before in Spain, Provence and The Holy Land as a means of communication between Jews, and by poets and writers. It was used for learned dissertations, not only for prayer. Many of the Greek and Roman texts rediscovered during and before the Renaissance were translated into Arabic Spain by Jewish scholars fluent in Hebrew. It was MODERNISED and revived for general use, but it had never become extinct. I can't give you a detailed reference but Pofessor Yom Tov Assis (Asis?) of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has studied the subject in detail and is an authority to consult.

'sac' , used in anatomy, is also a word taken directly from Hebrew. There are others missing from your list but I don't have it open in front of me to consult.

KryssTal Reply: Thank you for writing.

I thought that even in Roman times Hebrew was used mainly as a liturgical language (like Latin for the Catholics or Koine for the Greek Orthodox) and had been replaced by Aramaic. The difference now is that it is used in everyday speech. Its use among scholars is analogous to the use of Latin in Europe during the 17th century. I would not call Latin a living language during that period. It's tricky I know. I have had to make my own boundaries in writing about such a rich subject.

I am a little disturbed by the word THE in THE Holy Land. This is the WORLD Wide web so there are a number of places in the world that are considered Holy by various religions (Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Rome, Mecca, Medina, Benares, Sarnath, etc....). I realise that finding a name for that part of the world can be a political mine field.

I would be grateful for any additions to my word list and I will look at "sac".

Toda and Shalom.

* * * * *

As far as I know, there is only one Holy Land, but many Holy Cities.

I know I should be a bit more prepared before I write to you, but I will hunt out the list of different names Jews have for Jerusalem.

I'm not sure if you're correcting or querying me about the use of Hebrew as a living language; that it has never been out of use. I stand by my original claim that Hebrew has never been completely out but less commonly used and not only in liturgy. The learned scholars in North Africa, Spain, Southern France and Europe constantly used it. Maimonides, 1134-1204 in Spain; Manasseh ben Israel, 1604-67 set up the first printing press in Holland and published many works in Hebrew and Spanish. His works may well have been religion-orientated but they were not prayer books. Yehuda Halevi, c1075-c1141 was a Hebrew poet who didn't only confine himself to religious topics

If I come across some relevant articles in English I will send you the references.

I find your web site very interesting.

KryssTal Reply: I remember that one of the reasons Al-Qaida gave for attacking the USA was because of "foreign troops in the land of the Holy Places". Also Tibetans are angry at the Chinese for "defiling the holy land of Buddhism". So the term Holy Land depends on what religion is being followed. I, myself, am not religious so recognise no land as holier than any other.

I take on board your statements about writers like Maimonides (whos tomb I visited in Israel). But Isaac Newton wrote his famous book, Principia, in Latin because that was the langauge of scholarship.


George Roupgides

First of all congratulations for your site.

I would just like to inform you about some more english words that were taken from the Greek language and are used in the English one. The most known one is the "OK" which comes from the ancient greek navy men and its real meaning is Ola Kala ( everything is fine in translation).

The word Scotland comes from the greek word Skotos which means darkness. The word sallary comes from the greek phrase "se alas" which means "in salt" since at some point in time salaries were given in salt and not in currency.

Thank you for your attention keep up the good work

KryssTal Reply: Efharisto, phile (thank you, friend)

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