Foreign words and phrases | Sunday Observer

Foreign words and phrases

9 January, 2022

English has borrowed a large number of words and phrases from foreign languages. Here are some of them:
Picaresque (French) a picaresque story tells the amusing and unlikely adventures of a person who travels a lot
Piece de resistance (French) the best or most important thing in a series which comes after everything else
Pieta (Italian) an artistic representation of the Virgin Mary grieving over the crucified Christ
Pince-nez (French) glasses worn in the past that were held in position on the nose by a spring, instead of by pieces fitting round the ears
Piquant (French) having a pleasantly spicy taste; it also means interesting and exciting
The production retains its original piquancy.
Pique (French) to make someone feel annoyed or upset, especially by ignoring them or making them look stupid
Harris was piqued that his offer was rejected.
Pirouette (French) a dance movement in which the dancer turns very quickly standing on one toe or the front part of the foot
Placebo (Latin) a harmless substance given to a sick person instead of medicine, without telling them it is not real
Plaque (French) a harmful substance which forms on your teeth
Plateau (French) a large area of flat land that is higher than the land around it.
Plaudits (Latin) praise and admiration
The actor’s performance in the film won plaudits from the critics.
Plaza (Spanish) a public square or market place surrounded by buildings, especially in a town or city
Plethora (Greek) a very large number of something usually more than you need, as in plethora of suggestions
Podium (Latin) a small raised area for a performer, speaker, or musical conductor to stand on
Pogrom (Russian) a planned killing of large numbers of people, usually done for reasons of race or religion
Politburo (Russian) the most important decision-making committee of the Communist Party or Communist government
Politico (Italian) a politician or someone who is active in politics
Polka (Czech) a very quick simple dance for people dancing in pairs or a piece of music for the dance
Poltergeist (German) a variety of ghost that communicates its presence through rappings and the movement of furniture and other objects rather than through actual manifestation
Pappadam (Tamil) a circular wafer of crispy spice dough eaten with curry or other Indian food
Poppycock (Dutch) nonsense or rubbish
The minister insisted that he had never heard such poppycock in all his life.
Portfolio (Italian) the work that a particular government official is responsible for
Portico (Italian) a covered entrance to a building, consisting of a roof supported by pillars
Portmanteau (French) a very large suitcase that opens into two parts
Posse (Latin) a group of the same kind of people
The actor was surrounded by a posse of photographers.
Posthumous (Latin) after the death of the person concerned
The soldier received a posthumous medal for his courage in rescuing wounded soldiers.
Postmortem (Latin) an examination of a dead body to discover the cause of death
Postscriptum (Latin) a postscript or a note added at the end of a letter
Potpourri (French) a mixture of things that are not usually put together as in a potpourri of literary styles
Pow-wow (Narragansett) a meeting or discussion
Precis (French) a summary as in a précis of the report
Premier (French) a prime minister used in news reports as in the Irish Premier
Presidium (Russian) a committee chosen to represent a large political organization
Presto (Italian) said when something happens suddenly in a way that seems unbelievable or magical
You just press a button and presto! A drink appears.
Prima ballerina (Italian) the principal ballerina in a ballet company
Prima donna (Italian) the principal female singer in an opera company
Prima facie (Latin) on the face of it as in prima facie evidence of guilt