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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. 

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!

The image looks like a flat map of the world with land masses being in different colours ranging from blue and purple tones on the left side of the map to red and orange tones on the right side.

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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