Skip to main content

How many French words in English?

Though English is an Anglo-Saxon language, more than 29% of all English words come directly or indirectly from French. 

Thanks to the Norman Conquest, English speakers who have never studied French should recognise at least 10,000 French words.

Read More


  1. I am aware that there are differences British English and American English have some differences in words (trousers/pants) and also in the spelling of some words (centre/center), what I am not tottally sure is that it also extends to grammar structures. Does it? And by the way, Is there a "war" between BrExAmE? Does anyone think that one is somehow superior to the other? I am saying this because that is what happens to Portuguese language (Portugal x Brazil)

  2. Many thanks. Will try to answer your questions in posts over the next few days but generally I feel that the differences British and American English are sometimes exaggerated. Having said that it is fun to look at the subtle differences and it is generally true that BE English speakers have have a greater exposure to the AE and so have fewer comprehension problems.

    I lived in Lisbon so am aware of the fact that Brazil and Portugal are also two countries divided by a shared language (to paraphrase Churchill). Funnily enough I found Brazilian Portuguese easier to understand (perhaps because I speak (an error strewn) Spanish. Also noticed how the telenovelas dominated in a similar way to US shows/films in the UK.

    One great advantage for language learners is that in Portugal (and in Brazil I think) films/TV shows are usually shown in the original language.

  3. Does anyone know the origins of the word "marmalade". Has it got anything to do with the French for sea-sickness, or is this just a rumour?

  4. According to the OED, there is a Portuguese origin which predates the French one - referring to to a product imported in the 1490s. But the word is associated with the famously francophile Mary Queen of Scots, who supposedly ate orange jam when she was unwell. The bitter orange - the skin in particular - was used medicinally as an aid to digestion.

    Personally, I've always found the idea of marmalade (minus sea-sickness) to be more appealing than the taste. It's a product I feel I should like rather than actually enjoy very much

  5. In tangible terms, am I any nearer now than before beginning to start! Does anybody know the provenance of the word marmalade

  6. Hi, I wonder if you could tell me where you got the "more than 33% of all English words come directly or indirectly from French." statistic from?

    Thank you so much, I urgently need it for my dissertation and you're the most reputable source I've found on the internet as yet!
    Wikipedia says 29%, somewhere else says 50%, gah - so confusing!

  7. Legend has it that Marie Antoinette awoke one morning quite ill. Her chef, on being told that "Marie est malade"(Marie is sick) concocted a bitter conserve of oranges and sugar to tempt her appetite - hence "marmalade".
    This is what I learned at school in Ireland.

  8. Great write up. I like your post. Thanks for sharing informative post with us. I love french language. I have taken various courses to improve french skill. I think people can improve skill by increasing vocabulary.

  9. Thank you for the posts. I like that legend about "marmalade" from Ireland. My comment is about the suffix -tion? I have noticed it in English, French, German and I guess it exists in other European languages. Why?

  10. According to Henriette Walter's book "Honni soit qui mal y pense" (2001), around two thirds of the English words come from French. There are words you wouldn't think of, such as "wait", from French "guêter".


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Top 10 most quoted lines of poetry in English?

Mark Forsyth (The Inky Fool) has analysed Google Search query result data for lines of verse requested online. Here is the Top Ten:

What is the origin of the word alphabet?

Why is English not the official language of England?

58 countries list English as an official language - but not the UK. The world's lingua franca or second language is not, technically, the 'official' language of its birthplace. The de factoofficiallanguage of the United Kingdom is English,[3][4] which is spoken by approximately 59.8 million residents, or 98% of the population, over the age of three.[1][2][10][11][12] An estimated 700,000 people speak Welsh in the UK,[13] an official language in Wales