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Quintessentially British – A Few English Words And Their Origins

Quintessentially British – A Few English Words And Their Origins

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Many of us pride ourselves on being British; we have a fondness for all things British like cricket, baking and the Queen.

But many of those things that we love so much, as British as they now are, have in fact come from a very foreign past. The English language has evolved and transformed to absorb many words from around the world. Here are a few examples:

Tea – Of course the one thing that kept the empire going is tea. Originally from China, we have kept the name and taken the leaves to our hearts.

Potato – The staple of most cuisine whether you like to roast, fry, mash, boil or bake them, they originally came to Europe from South America around Peru, Chile and Bolivia. In fact the name ‘potato’ comes from the Spanish ‘patata’ and was eventually changed to the English potato.

Booze & Lager – Yep, we all love a good drink but we have the Dutch and the Germans to thank for these two thirst quenching words: Booze was originally used as a verb, ‘to drink a lot’ from Middle Dutch busen ‘to drink heavily’, whilst lager, short for lager beer, is originally from the German Lagerbier ‘beer brewed for keeping’ some months before being drunk, from Lager – ‘store or warehouse’.

Cartoon – Those beloved 2D characters that we watched and read throughout our childhood, the word cartoon actually comes from Italian meaning ‘strong, heavy paper’ where an artist’s preliminary sketches were made on such paper. Its evolution to mean comic drawings in a newspaper happened in around 1843.

Sofa – The item of furniture you’re probably comfortably stretched out on reading this exciting blog is originally an Arabian word. A ‘raised section of a floor, covered with carpets and cushions’ from the Turkish sofa or Arabic suffah.

Of course there are many more, as English is such a progressive and ever evolving language but these are just a fun few I discovered, and of course please comment below if you can think of any others.

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