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English Loanwords – Interactive World Map

Updated Wednesday, 25th October 2017
Explore the fascinating origins of some words in the English language with this interactive world map. Simply select the book items to uncover the word and its history. 

This page was published over 5 years ago. Please be aware that due to the passage of time, the information provided on this page may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate, and any views or opinions expressed may no longer be relevant. Some technical elements such as audio-visual and interactive media may no longer work. For more detail, see how we deal with older content.

English is a global language, and while many English words are finding their way into other languages, English itself is full of loanwords, or words borrowed from other languages. English has been shaped throughout history, from Latin loanwords to the influences of invasions from Germanic tribes, Vikings and the Normans.

More recent globalisation, including colonial activity, has brought even more words into the language. Each of the ten words below has originated from another language, sometimes by a complex route.

Tomato, guitar, pyjamas, juggernaut, slogan, taboo, shaman, mumbo-jumbo, raccoon, embargo.

Can you guess the geographical origin of the word? Check the map to find out!

To discover loanwords and where they come from:

  • Select the books that appear on the world map.
  • Read the information about the history of the word and its uses. 

All information obtained from the Oxford English Dictionary.

 

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