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 online in the last few months. 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.
Modus Operandi is a Latin phrase, path of least resistance. Normal mode of operation.
Über comes from the German language and indicates a state or action involving increased elevation or quantity in the physical sense.
Faux Pas is a slip or blunder in etiquette, manners, or conduct; an embarrassing social blunder. Commonly used by me, much to the chagrine of my daughter.
Prima Donna is a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team.
Imprimatur is a Latin term, “let it be printed” or, in the proper sense, a declaration authorizing publication of a book.
Opus Dei is Latin for Work of God.
Persona Non Grata is a Latin term, which means “an unwelcome person.”
Haute couture is of course French and refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing.
Noblesse oblige also comes from the French language and means benevolent, honorable behavior considered to be the responsibility of persons of high birth or rank.
Au contraire is French for on the contrary or the opposite.
Cognoscenti is an Italian word and represents persons who have superior knowledge and understanding of a particular field, especially in the fine arts, literature, and world of fashion.
Sic is a Latin adverb which means “thus was it written” and is usually added after a quoted word or phrase (or a longer piece of text).
Wunderkind is a German term to mean a child that does extraordinary things or has extraordinary talents.
Raison d’être is French word for “reason for existence” or one’s purpose in life.
Femme fatale is a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising…