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Tamilnadu Samacheer Kalvi 12th English Vocabulary Foreign Words and Phrases
1. From French:
a. Avant-garde – This term applies to art, culture, and politics. It is when someone or something uses unusual or experimental ideas and challenges what people see as normal. For example, Lady GaGa is considered avant-garde for her fashion choices.
b. Bon voyage – This term is generally used to express well wishes to someone who is embarking on a trip or journey. For example, “Have a safe trip and bon voyage”
c. Deja vu – This is a popular phrase and at times is used incorrectly. Deja vu is the feeling that you have been through an experience or to a place before, though you never actually have. You are experiencing something for the first time, but in a way it feels familiar. “The journey gave me a sense of deja vu”
d. Faux pas – A faux pas is an embarrassing social mistake. For example, wearing all white to a wedding at which you are not the bride. “Sheena committed a faux pas at the wedding.”
e. RSVP – This is actually a French abbreviation for the phrase responders’ il Vous plait. ”It literally translates as “please respond.” This is most often used on an invitation to an event.
This is a form of dance that is popular all over the world. It’s important to note how the word “ballet” is pronounced. Here you don’t pronounce the at the end. Instead, the second syllable should sound like “lay,” with the same vowel sound as the letter “a”.
Example: My niece Katy and nephew Kiran are in ballet class.
Here are a few other examples of French loanwords that end in “-et” but are pronounced like an “a” at the end: “buffet,” “gourmet,” “filet,” “chalet’ and even the car company “Chevrolet.”
In English, this is the name for a small, usually informal restaurant. It is written both with the accent mark (cafe) and without it (cafe) in English.
“Cafe” comes from the French word “coffee,” but it’s also very similar to other words related to coffee in many other languages.
Also note that there’s a similar word, “cafeteria,” that causes some confusion. Generally, a cafeteria is like a small restaurant that is for a specific group of people. Cafeterias at schools or large companies are for the people who study or work there.
Example: I have only about 20 minutes, so I’ll just stop at a cafe for a quick lunch.
Some of the most common loanwords are related to food. That’s because many foods are closely connected to a particular culture and other languages often don’t always have words for foods from other cultures.
A croissant is a type of pastry or bread that is light and flaky (leaves lots of little crumbs on your plate when you eat it). A similar type of bread in English is a “crescent roll.”
Example: Tina really loves to make croissants because they taste better than other types of bread.
This is definitely a word that you should hear pronounced, since it can be a little tricky even for native English speakers.
An entrepreneur is a person who starts their own company. Other common forms of the word include “entrepreneurship” (a noun) or “entrepreneurial (an adjective).
Example: Elon Musk, the man who started SpaceX and Tesla Motors, is one of the most famous entrepreneurs in the world, well-known for their discovery.
2. From Latin
a. Alma mater – An alma mater is a school or university that one has attended or graduated from. For example, “Yale is my alma mater.” It can also mean the school song and it literally translates as “loving mother.”
b. Quid pro quo – This term translates as “this for that.” It is used generally when two parties exchange something of value, e.g., “Terrorists do not do something for nothing, there is always quid pro quo involved.”
c. Status quo – This phrase means “the existing state of affairs.” It describes what a culture or particular group deem “normal.” For example, “The NGO tried to maintain the status quo.”
In French, this word means “kind” or “style.” In English, it’s used to describe a category of something, especially when talking about entertainment. You’ll especially hear people using this word to talk about books, movies and music.
Example: Rohan likes many types of music, but his favourite genre is heavy metal.
In English, this word is used to describe either a place where people plan to meet, or the action of meeting a person at a specific time.
Example: We’re in a new city and I’m sure you want to explore it a bit. It’s 2:00 now, so let’s rendezvous back here at 6:00. Then we’ll go for dinner.
3. From German (Dutch)
Translated literally, this word means “children’s garden.” It’s a common type of school in many parts of the world. Children often go to a year or two of kindergarten when they’re five years old before they start elementary school.
Example: Our daughter will be three next year, so we are trying to find a good kindergarten for her.
A waltz is a type of formal dance. The word is also used to describe the type of music that plays during those dances and it can also be used as a verb to describe the action of performing this dance.
Example: My friends say that dancing the waltz is difficult, but I find it a cake walk.
A rucksack is another name for a backpack. “Ruck” comes from the German word Rucken (back) and Sack means a bag.
Example: Shilo is going to travel to Europe this summer, but he’s planning on taking one rucksack. He’ll have to pack carefully if he wants everything to fit!
A glitch describes a small problem, but usually it’s a problem that doesn’t make it impossible to finish something.
Example: I planned to go downtown to meet with Beno, but I ran into & glitch ‘, the bus wasn’t running because it was a holiday. So I just took a cab instead.
In Spanish, this word literally means “little war.” In both Spanish and English it can be used to describe an unofficial group of people fighting the government. In English, it’s most commonly used as an adjective, in phrases like “guerrilla warfare” or “guerrilla marketing.” Note that in Spanish, the “11” sound is different than in English. As a result, in English this word sounds basically the same as “gorilla,” the animal.
Example: The guerrilla fighters took control of the capital of the country, which gave them control of the government.
This word describes a person who is very strong or masculine. It can also be used to describe a person who is arrogant about his manhood. It’s also used in the name of a professional wrestler and a popular disco song from the 1970’s.
Example: Peter is a real macho guy, but that’s annoying sometimes. He says that “real men don’t cry,” but I think he’s wrong.
In English, “patio” generally describes an area outside a house which often has a table and chairs, but no roof.
Example: It was very hot today, so we decided to go out to the patio to drink a cold glass of milk shake.
A “plaza” describes a public open area in a city, which can sometimes be called a “square.” Plaza is also used in the names of many shopping malls, corporate building areas or other large open areas.
Example: Mercy needed to buy some return gifts for her friends, so she went downtown to the new shopping plaza to check out some of the stores.
A “siesta” is a nap that one takes in the middle of the day, especially after eating or while taking a break from work.
Example: I think I’ll take a quick siesta before I get back to work after lunch.
4. From Japanese
It is a form of entertainment in which people take turns to sing popular songs into a microphone over prerecorded backing tracks.
Example: David really likes singing karaoke, even though he doesn’t have an amazing voice. But that doesn’t matter—the important thing is to have fun with friends!
It describes a popular martial art that originated in Japan. There, the word “karate” means “empty hand,” since you don’t need any special equipment or weapons to do it.
Example: Nikita has a black belt in karate, so you’d better not try to steal her things.
It means “spy” in Japanese, but in English it’s used to describe a person who can move and attack silently, without being seen. In modem use, people who can do something incredibly well are often called “ninjas”
Example: You should try Karan’s cookies—they’re delicious! Karan is a real baking ninja!
Origami is the art of folding small pieces of paper into interesting shapes.
Example: These days children are interested in learning origami. It’s good fun!
It is a gigantic (very large) sea wave that is usually caused by an earthquake. Unfortunately, the word has become more well-known ever since the 2004 south-east Asia tsunami and the 2011 Japan tsunami.
Example: The recent tsunamis in Asia killed hundreds and thousands of people.
5. From Chinese
In Chinese this phrase means “work together,” but in English it’s used casually to express that you’re excited or enthusiastic about something. We generally use it as an adjective. Example: I was really gung-ho to eat dim sum, but when we got to the food joint it was closed.
It is another popular style of martial arts. In “kung fu”, generally fighters only use their hands and feet, but not weapons.
Example: I’m tired of bullies beating me up. I’m going to learn kung fu so I can defend myself if they attack me again!
This is a word that originally started in Chinese (as “dou fu”). But before it was adopted into English, it passed through Japanese and became “tofu” In Chinese, “dou” means “bean” and “fu” means “rotten” or “sour.”
Example: This restaurant serves delicious vegetarian dishes, especially tofu.
This word finds its origin in the Chinese word “taifeng which means “big wind.” A typhoon is just another name for a hurricane or a cyclone.
Example: In 2014 Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines and caused a lot of devastation.
e. Yin and Yang
In Chinese, “yin” represents feminine, dark and night time, while “yang” represents the opposite: masculine, light and daytime things. In English, these words are used to represent any opposites.
Example: Mary is the yin to Paul’s yang. They’re complete opposites, but they have a happy marriage. I guess it’s true that “opposites attract”!
6. Some Important Words from Other Languages
a. Moped (from Swedish)
“Moped” is a combination of the Swedish words “motor” and “pedaler.” Those words are nearly the same as their English equivalents “motor” and “pedals.” It’s basically a bicycle with a motor.
Example: Last birthday, my father gifted me a moped.
b. Sheikh (from Arabic)
A “sheikh” is a ruler or leader of a group of people in Arab cultures. It’s used in English as a title for rulers in some countries, instead of words like “king” or “president.”
Example: When meeting sheikhs, many foreign leaders hold hands with them as a sign of respect or friendship.
c. Taekwondo (from Korean)
In Korean, “taekwondo” means “kick fist art” and in English it’s used to describe that popular martial art.
Example: I want to learn a martial art and I have chosen taekwondo.
|ad nauseam||to a sickening degree|
|carte blanche||unlimited authority|
|caveat emptor||let the buyer beware|
|en masse||in a large group|
|fait accompli||established fact|
|ipso facto||by the fact itself|
|modus operandi||method of operating|
|persona non grata||an unacceptable person|
|prima donna||a temperamental and conceited person|
|pro bono||done or donated without charge|
|quid pro quo||something for something, usually an equal exchange|
|status quo||the existing condition|
|carte blanche||unconditional authority to act as they please|
|esprit de corps||team spirit|
|id est||that is|
|lingerie||nighties and undergarments|
|spiel||a glib speech intended to persuade someone|
|schmoozing||to have a friendly talk in order to manipulate a person|
|patio||an area outside the house without roof|
|Paparazzi||photographers of celebrities|
|Viva voce||An oral examination|
|Sine die||With no appointed date for resumption|
|Rapport||Close and harmonious relationship with mutual understanding|
|En route||Via/on the way|
|Ad hoc||For the special objective|