Borrowed words and new words: ‘Brexit’.

The English language uses words which are borrowed  – or perhaps more accurately, imported – from other languages.


Think about the English definition of siesta – as in ‘to have a siesta‘.  Almost everyone knows this is a short afternoon sleep

As a second example, do you know not to make the almost classic mistake of talking about ‘our town party‘ instead of the correct ‘our local fiesta‘? 

Click on the words to see the English dictionary definition.   A new window will open.

As well as borrowing or importing words in English, we sometimes invent them too.

This year, the annual lexicographical wordfest began with a list of topical terms from Collins Dictionary. Its choice for Word of the Year 2016 was Brexit, Britain’s exit from the European Union. The term went from nowhere to an established part of the language in an extraordinarily brief time.


The earliest recorded use may have been the one in ‘The Guardian’ newspaper on 1 January 2012, but it became widely used by the general public only in the early months of this year. The publisher suggests it “is arguably politics’ most important contribution to the English language in over 40 years”. It has spawned many spin-offs, including Bremorse for the regret by people who voted to leave but realise they made a mistake and would like to Bremain or Breturn.

[Also] in the Collins topical list … uberization, derived from the name of the taxi firm Uber, for the adoption of a business model in which services are offered on demand through direct contact between a customer and supplier, usually via mobile technology.


The last two paragraphs above are adapted from
(Copyright © Michael Quinion 1996-2016),  with thanks.

Leave a Reply