The more you read, the greater the chance you’ll come in contact with non-English used in English speaking circles. This list is an informal grouping of non-English words I’ve come across in the last few months while reading online articles. For a month or so, every time I saw a foreign word being used in the English or American press, I took note. A brief review of these words can help indicate their original language.
Ad hoc is to improvise in some instances. Latin origin.
Zeitgeist is a German term that represents “spirit of the times” or “the spirit of the age.”
Joie de vivre is a French phrase to mean joy of life or cheerful enjoyment of living.
Schadenfreude is borrowed from German and means finding joy in someone’s misfortune. This is becoming a more common word in English articles.
Vis-à-vis is to be face to face. Typically used in diplomatic circles.
Paparazzi are a common word among celebrity circles and are used to refer to photographers who focus on candid photography of celebrities, politicians, and other well-known people. I think the word ‘pizza’ can be formed from Paparazzi.
Mensch means “a person of integrity and honor” or a good fellow. From Yiddish or German.
Rapprochement in international relations, a rapprochement, is to bring together or a re-establishment of cordial relations. French.
La Dolce Vita comes from Italian and means “the sweet life” or “the good life.” Very similar to Joie de vivre. This phrase is less common than a few years ago.
Crème de la crème is a French terms to describe the highest social level or the best of something. A very common phrase and one of my favorites: a Crème de la crème expression!
Caveat emptor is Latin for “Let the buyer beware.” Generally, caveat emptor is the property law doctrine that controls the sale of real property after the date of closing.
Hoi polloi is Greek for “the common people,” but is commonly misused to mean “the upper class.” Perhaps include me with others who have perhaps misused this word in the past.
Foie gras is French for fat liver and is considered a culinary delicacy among some sophisticated restaurants. I’m not buying it!
Ad hominem is Latin and means no personal attacks. To the man or to the person.
Gesundheit is used in the States to wish good health to a person who has just sneezed. Gesund means good health and heit means full — full of good health.