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English words with Latin roots that don't exist in other Romance languages


It happened in some cases that English preserved or revived Latin words that had died out in other Romance languages. Many of them were borrowed from Old French and were dropped in modern French. Occasionally words were coined in English based on Latin roots. Although the existence of these words has not been checked in all other Romance languages besides French, Spanish and Italian (namely Portuguese, Galician, Catalan, Occitan, Romansch, Romanian), it is most likely that they don't exist in these languages either.

Latin-derived words unique to the English language

Words borrowed directly from (Classical, Vulgar or Medieval) Latin, but which died out in Romance languages

  • apposite (from Latin appositus)
  • bibulous (from Latin bibulus)
  • box (from Latin buxis)
  • caveat (3rd pers. sing. pres. subjunctive of Latin cavere)
  • comminute(d) (from Latin comminutus)
  • compulsory (from Latin compulsorius ; doesn't exist in French or Italian, but does in Spanish and Portuguese)
  • conflation (from Latin conflationem)
  • construe, misconstrue (from Latin construere)
  • coruscate, coruscation (from Latin coruscare)
  • deceptive (from Latin deceptivus)
  • delete, deletion (from Latin deletus, deletionem)
  • delude (from Latin deludere)
  • deprecatory (from Latin deprecatorius)
  • despondence, despondency (from Latin despondere)
  • despicable (from Latin despicabilis)
  • dire (from Latin dirus)
  • disrupt, disruption, disruptive, disrupted (from Latin disruptus, disruptionem)
  • effulgence, effulgent (from Latin effulgentia, effulgentem)
  • elicit (from Latin elicitus)
  • equivocate, equivocation (from Latin equivocare and aequivocationem - only the adjective 'equivocal' exists in Romance languages)
  • erase (from Latin erasus)
  • excerpt (from Latin excerptus or excerptum)
  • excruciate, excruciating (from Latin excruciatus)
  • exert(ion) (from Latin exertus)
  • exhilarate, exhilaration (from Latin exhilaratus, exhilarationem)
  • expatiate (from Latin expatiatus)
  • expedience, expediency (from Latin expedientia via Old French expedience)
  • expostulate (from Latin expostulare)
  • extol (from Latin extollere)
  • fluent (from Latin fluentem)
  • gown (from Latin gunna)
  • horrid (from Latin horridus)
  • hyphen (from Latin hyphen, ultimately from Greek)
  • ignite (from Latin ignire)
  • impinge (from Latin impingere)
  • inception (from Latin inceptionem ; the adjective incipiente exists in Italian)
  • inchoate (from Latin inchoatus)
  • infelicity (from Latin infelicitas)
  • inflatable (from the Latin verb inflare)
  • inquire, enquire (from the Latin verb inquærere)
  • intrude, intruder, intrusive (from Latin intrudere ; the noun 'intrusion' does exist in most Romance languages, but not its derivatives)
  • jejune (from Latin jejunus)
  • joke, jocular (from Latin jocus, jocularis ; exist as gioco in Italian and jeux in French, but with the meaning of 'game')
  • meretricious (from Latin meretricius)
  • merge (from Latin mergere)
  • moron (from Latin morus)
  • nefarious (from Latin nefarius)
  • nugatory (from Latin nugatorius)
  • obdurate (from Latin obduratus)
  • obnoxious (from Latin obnoxiosus)
  • omen, ominous (from Latin omen, ominosus)
  • pageant (from Latin pagina)
  • pellucid (from Latin pellucidus)
  • penurious (from Latin penuriosus ; only 'penury' exists in other Romance languages)
  • percipience (from Latin percipientem)
  • perfunctory (from Latin perfunctorius)
  • portend (from Latin portendere)
  • predicament (from Latin prædicamentum)
  • prefatory (from Latin praefator)
  • preposterous (from Latin præposterus)
  • previous (from Latin prævius)
  • prior (from Latin prior)
  • protrude (from Latin protrudere)
  • prurient (from Latin prurientem)
  • pulchritude (from Latin pulchritudo)
  • pulchritudinous (from Latin pulchritudino)
  • query (from Latin quære)
  • recess (from Latin recessus)
  • recumbent (from Latin recumbentem)
  • refund (from Latin refundere)
  • relapse (from Latin relapsus)
  • renege (from Latin renegare ; only 'renegade' exists in other Romance languages)
  • resurge, resurgent (from Latin resurgere)
  • retaliate (from Latin retaliare)
  • revolve (from Latin revolvere)
  • rufous (from Latin rufus)
  • scholar (from Latin scholaris)
  • scribble (from Latin scribere via Middle Latin scribillare)
  • seclude (from Latin secludere)
  • shrine (from Latin scrinium)
  • stricture (from Latin strictura)
  • trivia (from Latin trivia)
  • ubiquitous (from Latin ubiquitarius ; note that the noun 'ubiquity' exists in all Romance languages)
  • vapid (from Latin vapidus)
  • verbatim (from Latin verbatim)
  • vintage (from Latin vindemia)

Words borrowed from Old/Middle French or Anglo-French, which have died out in Modern French

  • abeyance (from Anglo-French abeiance, from Old French abeance, derived from Latin a + batare)
  • abscond (from Latin abscondere via Middle French abscondre)
  • acquaint/acquaintance (from Latin accognoscere via Old French acointier)
  • adamant (from Latin adamantem via Old French adamant)
  • advocacy (from Medieval Latin advocatia via Old French avocacie)
  • amenable (from Anglo-French amenable)
  • ancestry (from Old French ancesserie)
  • appall(ing) (from Old French apalir, derived from Latin a + pallere)
  • appoint (from Old French apointier)
  • appointment (from Old French apointment)
  • assess (from Anglo-French assesser, derived from Middle Latin assessare ; only the noun assesseur exists in French)
  • assets (from Old French assez, derived from Vulgar Latin ad satis, both meaning 'enough, sufficient')
  • assignment (from Old French assignment)
  • assuage (from Latin adsuaviare via Old French assouagier)
  • attendance (from Old French atendance)
  • avail (from Latin vadere via Old French availen)
  • barter (from Old French barater)
  • bludgeon (from Middle French bougeon)
  • bribe (from Old French bribe)
  • cantankerous (from Middle English contakour, from Anglo-French contec, ultimately from Old French contechier)
  • canvas (from Latin cannapaceus via Old French canevas)
  • carry, (mis)carriage (from Anglo-French or Old North French carier, cariage)
  • compel (from Latin compellere via Old French compellir)
  • comply (from Latin complere via Old French complir)
  • compunction (from Latin compunctionem via Old French compunction)
  • conceal (from Latin concelare via Old French conceler)
  • contrive, contrivance (from Latin contropare via Old French controver)
  • covenant (from Old French covenant, derived from Latin convenire)
  • curmudgeon (probably corruption of French coeur méchant)
  • daunt, undaunted (from Old French danter)
  • defile (verb ; from Old French defoler)
  • demeanour (from Old French demener)
  • demise (from Middle French demise)
  • demure (from Anglo-French démuré, meaning altered from Old French meur, ultimately from Latin maturus)
  • descry (from Old French descrier)
  • deserve (from Latin deservire via Old French deservir)
  • device (from Old French devis, though acquired modern meaning in English)
  • disclose, disclosure (from Old French desclos)
  • dismal (from Middle Latin dies mali, meaning "bad or unlucky days", via Anglo-French dis mals)
  • disparage (from Old French desparagier)
  • duty (from Latin debitus via Old French deu and Anglo-French duete)
  • easement (from Old French aisement)
  • endeavour (from Old French dever)
  • enforce(ment) (from Old French enforcier/enforcement)
  • enhance (from Anglo-French enhauncer, derived from Old French enhaucier, itself from Latin inaltare )
  • entice (from Old French enticier)
  • entreat, entreaties (from Anglo-French entretier, from Old French entraiter)
  • flavour (from Latin flator via Old French flaour)
  • foreign (from Latin foranus via Old French forain)
  • fusty (from Latin fustis via Old French fusté)
  • gorgeous (from Middle French gorgias)
  • imbue (from the Latin verb imbuere via Middle French imbu)
  • improve (from Anglo-French emprouwer, derived from Latin prode)
  • intone (from Latin intonare via Old French entoner)
  • lecher(ous) (from Old French lecheor)
  • maim (from Latin mahanare via Old French mahaignier)
  • menial (from Anglo-French meignial, derived from Old French mesnie, ultimately from Latin mansionem)
  • mischief, mischievous (from Old French meschief)
  • misnomer (from Middle French mesnomer)
  • paramount (from Anglo-French paramont)
  • parlance (from Old French parlance)
  • parlour (from Old French parleor)
  • pertain (from Latin pertinere via Old French partenir)
  • pristine (from Latin pristinus via Old French pristin)
  • purport (from Anglo-French purporter)
  • purpose (from Old French porpos)
  • purview (from Anglo-French purveuest, ultimately from Latin providere)
  • quaint (from Latin cognitus via Old French cointe)
  • quiet (from Latin quies via Old French quiete ; only the noun quiétude survived in modern French)
  • ravenous (from Old French ravinos)
  • rehearse (from Old French rehercier)
  • relieve (from Latin relevare via Old French relever)
  • relish (from Old French reles/relais)
  • rely/reliable (from Old French relier)
  • remnant (from Old French remanant)
  • rendition (from Old French rendre via obsolete French rendition)
  • repeal (from Anglo-French repeler)
  • resort (from Old French resort ; the French phrase dernier ressort for 'last resort' exists, but not the verb 'to resort' nor the noun as in 'holiday resort')
  • retainer (from Middle French retenir)
  • revelry (from Latin rebellare via Old French reveler; other Romance languages only have 'rebel' and 'rebellion'.)
  • revert (from Latin revertere via Old French revertir ; revertir exists in the formal, judicial sense in Spanish)
  • riot (from Old French riote)
  • stolid (from Latin stolidus via Middle French stolide)
  • summon (from Latin summonere via Old French sumundre)
  • supply (from Old French supplier)
  • surmise (from Old French surmis)
  • surrender (from Old French surrendre ; the reflexive verb se rendre still exists, but it has no noun alike to the English)
  • surround (from Middle French soronder ; ultimately from Latin superundare)
  • tantamount (from Anglo-French tant amunter)
  • taste (from Vulgar Latin tastare via Old French taster)
  • tenement (from Latin tenementum via Old French tenement)
  • toil (from Old French toeillier via Anglo-French toiler, ultimately from Latin tudiculare)
  • treacle (from Latin triacula via Old French triacle)
  • truncheon (from Old French tronchon)
  • turmoil (from Latin trimodia via Middle French tremouille)
  • unassailable (derived from "assail", from French assailir)
  • vagrant (from Latin vagari via Old French wacrer)
  • venison (from Old French venesoun)
  • voucher (from Old French vocher and Anglo-French voucher, derived from Latin voticare)

English coinages based on Latin roots

  • acquisitive (English coinage from 'acquisition')
  • addictive (English coinage from 'addiction' ; note that 'addict' is also an Anglicism when it exists in Romance languages)
  • appliance (English coinage based on 'apply' but changing the meaning)
  • artistry (English coinage from 'artist')
  • arty (English coinage from 'art')
  • (un)attainable (English coinage from 'attain')
  • attune(d) (English coinage)
  • available (English coinage based on 'avail' but changing the meaning)
  • avoidance (English coinage from 'avoid', related to French éviter, Italian evitare and Spanish evitar)
  • basement (English coinage)
  • bemuse, bemused (English coinage from 'amuse')
  • blatant (English coinage, from Latin blatire)
  • casualty (English coinage from 'casual')
  • clearance (English & American coinage, depending on the meaning)
  • commix(ture) (English coinage)
  • composure (English coinage)
  • contraption (English coinage)
  • conundrum (English coinage)
  • conveyance (English coinage from 'convey', from Latin conviare via Old French convoier)
  • cottage (English coinage from the Old French cote)
  • cultivar (American coinage ; now used in French too)
  • customize (English coinage)
  • deaccession (English coinage)
  • depauperate (English coinage)
  • disposal (English coinage from Old French disposer, although the meaning changed in English)
  • disrespect (English coinage, 'dis' + 'respect')
  • erasure, erasable, eraser (English coinages from 'erase' - see above)
  • eventuate (English coinage)
  • facilities (English coinage, although 'facility' with the meaning of 'easiness' exists in most Romance languages)
  • fractious (derived from 'fraction')
  • gallivant (English coinage)
  • guideline (English coinage)
  • gullible (English coinage derived from Latin gula)
  • implement, implementation (from Latin implementem, though the modern meaning and the verb are both English coinages)
  • inanely (English coinage from 'inane')
  • inconsequential (English coinage from 'consequence')
  • ingrained (English coinage)
  • inured (from in ure, English coinage based on Old French uevre)
  • leverage (English coinage from Old French levier)
  • lustrous (English coinage from 'luster')
  • miscegenation (American coinage from Latin miscere "mix" + genus "race")
  • momentous (English coinage)
  • normalcy (American coinage)
  • (un)palatable (English coinage from Latin palatum)
  • pattern (English coinage as a derivative sense for 'patron', itself from Latin patronus)
  • peruse, perusal (English coinage)
  • privacy (the French translation is "vie privée" but the meaning is narrower and it doesn't work in many cases)
  • quixotic (English coinage from 'Don Quixote')
  • rapscallion (English coinage based on 'rascal')
  • relent(less) (English coinage from Latin re + lentus)
  • spectacles, bespectacled (English coinage from Latin spectaculum)
  • suit, suitor, suitable (various meanings, mostly English coinages from Old French suitte)
  • tantalize (English coinage, from the mythological Greco-Roman king Tantalus/Tantalos)
  • tantrum (English coinage)
  • template (derived from French templet, ultimately from Latin templum, but with a completely different meaning)
  • transmogrify (English coinage)
  • urbanite (English coinage)
  • valedictory (English coinage from Latin valedicere)
  • valedictorian (American coinage from 'valedictory')

Grammatical functions used in English missing in other Romance languages

  • (to) advocate (the verb is an English coinage)
  • altitudinal (English coinage from 'altitude')
  • apologize (English coinage from 'apology')
  • companionable (English coinage from the noun 'companion')
  • completion (from Latin completionem ; oddly the verb and adjective 'complete' exist in other Romance languages, but not the noun)
  • corporate (from Latin corporatus ; only the noun 'corporation' exists in other Romance languages)
  • curvy, curvaceous (English coinage from 'curve' ; Romance languages only have 'curved')
  • destitute (from Latin destitutus ; exists only as a verb in other Romance languages)
  • enlist (English coinage from the noun 'list')
  • enslave (English coinage from the noun 'slave')
  • envision (English coinage from the noun 'vision')
  • equivocation (from Latin aequivocationem ; only the adjective survives in modern Romance languages)
  • (to) face (the verb is an English coinage)
  • fashionable (English coinage from 'fashion')
  • fixture (English coinage from the adjective 'fix' from Latin fixus)
  • (to) fund (the verb is an English coinage)
  • (to) gesture (the verb is an English coinage)
  • judgmental (English coinage from 'judgment')
  • (to) list (the verb is an English coinage)
  • merciful, merciless (English coinage from 'mercy')
  • noncommittal, committal (English coinage from 'commit')
  • perform (English coinage derived from 'performance' ; the verb has been used recently in French and Italian but as a borrowing from English)
  • pervy (English coinage from the noun 'pervert')
  • rampage (English coinage from the French ramper)
  • reminisce (English coinage from 'reminiscence')
  • remittance (English coinage from 'remit')
  • resentful (English coinage from 'resentment')
  • retriever (English coinage from 'retrieve' - see below)
  • revival (English coinage from Middle French revivre)
  • rustication (English coinage from 'rustic')
  • sanitize (English coinage)
  • seizure (English coinage from 'seize')
  • (to) state (the verb is an English coinage ; also includes derivatives like 'restate', 'statement' and 'restatement')
  • supportive (English coinage from 'support')
  • tentative (the adjective is an English coinage ; the noun exists in Romance languages except English)
  • treat (the noun and the meaning of the verb derived from it are English coinages)
  • unrelenting (English coinage from the Old French 'rallentir')
  • unremitting(ly) (English coinage from 'remit')
  • urge (English coinage from urgent)
  • (to) verge (the verb is an English coinage)
  • volitional (English coinage from 'volition')
  • vehemently (English coinage from 'vehement', also found in Spanish as veementemente and in Portuguese as veementemente, but not in French or Italian)

Multiple variants of Latin words only found in English

In some cases, English has adopted two (occasionally three) variants of the Latin spelling, while French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and other Romance languages have only kept one. In most cases English has added nuances not found in other languages.

  • acceptance, acceptation
  • advantage, vantage
  • adventure, venture
  • aperture, overture
  • apparition, appearance
  • ban, banish
  • barbarian, barbaric, barbarous
  • capacity, capability
  • capable, able, capacious
  • company, companionship
  • cure, curacy, curation
  • deface, disfigure
  • dispute, disputation
  • doubtful, dubious
  • efficient, efficacious
  • entrance, entry
  • expectancy, expectation(s)
  • existing, extant
  • exit, issue
  • exposition, exposure
  • gentle, genteel, gentile
  • gracious, graceful
  • granary, garner
  • grave, grievious
  • grief, grievance
  • hesitating, hesitant
  • horrible, horrid, horrendous
  • isolate, insulate
  • joyous, joyful
  • number, numerals
  • obedience, obeisance
  • pale, pallid
  • poor, pauper
  • print, imprint, stamp
  • regime, regimen
  • repair, reparation
  • scissors, chisel
  • sensitivity, sensibility
  • signification, significance
  • treasonous, treacherous
  • triple, treble
  • tyrannic(al), tyrannous
  • vacancy, vacation
  • vibrancy, vibration
  • visit, visitation

Latin words that acquired a new, additional meaning in English

There are words that English only partially shares with other Romance languages. The particularity of the English language is its great adaptability and creativity. The following examples show how English speakers coined new usages and meanings, or sometimes completely reappropriated Latin words. This is why, in spite of shared roots from Latin, these words have different meanings from their look-alike cousins in French, Italian or Spanish.

  • actual, actually : the original meaning is 'present' ; English added the meaning of 'existing as a fact'.
  • argue : verb usage rare in Romance languages ; English coined the meaning of 'dispute' in addition to the original meaning of 'use arguments to convince'.
  • callous : meaning 'hardened skin' in Latin, it evolved to signify 'emotionally hardened' or 'insensitive'.
  • concern : the original meaning is 'relate to', 'involve', 'be of interest to s.o.' ; English added the meaning of 'worry'
  • countenance : from French contenance ('amount contained') ; English gave it the meanings of "facial expression", "support/approval", and created a new verb meaning "admit as acceptable or possible".
  • demonstrate, demonstration, demonstrator : the original meaning is 'show or prove through reasoning' ; English added the meaning of 'protest publicly'.
  • divert : Romance languages only have the meaning of 'distract', while English added the senses of 'to turn aside', 'draw off a course', 'deflect' or 'route on a detour'.
  • fashion : from French façon (manner, pattern, style) ; the sense of "well-dressed person" emerged in the early 20th century.
  • gender : from Latin genus meaning 'kind, type, species, race'. It retained this sense in other Romance languages, and came to mean "sex of a human being" in English only in the 20th century.
  • impair : from French empirer and Latin impejorare meaning 'get worse' or 'deteriorate'. English changed the meaning to 'weaken' or 'damage'.
  • issue : from Latin exire via French issue (exit) ; English added the meaning of 'sending out', 'put into circulation' 'publish', but also of 'problem', 'dispute' or 'matter', as well as 'offspring'.
  • journey : Originally meaning 'day' or 'a day's travel/work' in French (journée) or Italian (giornata), English retained only the sense of 'course of travelling' and coined a verb from it too.
  • manage, manager : relates to the Italian maneggiare (to handle) and the French manège (horsemanship), both derived from Latin manus (hand). Pretty much all the modern meanings of 'manage' have evolved in English.
  • purchase : from Old French purchaser (to chase) ; English changed the meaning to 'buy' or 'thing bought'.
  • rampant : from French rampant ('creep', 'climb') ; English gave it the sense of "growing without check".
  • record : from Old French recorder ('recite', 'report'), ultimately from Latin recordari ('remember', 'call to mind'). English gave the word the meanings of "best performance of its kind", "converting sound/video/data onto a physical support", and a "disc carrying recorded sound".
  • recoup : from French recouper meaning 'cut again' or 'cut back'. English gave it the meaning of 'regain', 'reimburse' or 'compensate'.
  • retrieve : from French retrouver (to find again, to rediscover) ; English language changed the meaning to 'get back', 'recuperate' or 'recover'.
  • royalty : English coinage of the meaning 'usage-based payments'.
  • tenure : from French tenir and Latin tenere meaning 'to hold' ; tenure exists in French (though rare) in the sense of land held or occupied (mostly by a vassal in the Middle Ages). English broadened its usage and coined the meaning of holding a permanent office or employment.

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