Foreign words and phrases | Sunday Observer

Foreign words and phrases

16 January, 2022

English has borrowed a large number of words and phrases from foreign languages. Here are some of them:
Pro forma (Latin) if something is approved or accepted pro forma, it is part of the usual way of doing things and does not involve any actual choice or decision, as in pro forma approval
Progenitor (Latin) someone who first thought of an idea, as in a progenitor of cubism
Prognosis (Greek) a doctor’s opinion of how an illness or disease will develop
The doctor said Bryan’s long-term progress is good.
Proletariat (French) the class of workers who own no property and work for wages, especially in factories
Prologue (Greek) the introduction to a play or a long poem
Promenade (French) a wide road next to the beach where people can walk for pleasure
Pronto (Spanish) quickly or immediately
You had better get back here pronto.
Propaganda (Italian) information which is false or which emphasizes just one part of a situation, used by a government or political group to make people agree with them, as in political propaganda
Prophylactic (Greek) intended to prevent disease as in prophylactic antibiotics
Pro rata (Latin) a payment or share that is pro rata is calculated according to how much of something is used, or how much work is done
Fees are calculated on a pro rata basis.
Prospectus (Latin) a small book that advertises a school, college or new business
Prosthesis (Greek) an artificial leg, tooth, or other part of the body which takes the place of a missing part
Protean (Greek) able to keep changing or to do many things; versatile
Protégé (French) someone, especially a young person, who is taught and helped by someone who has influence, power or more experience
She tried to encourage her young protégé to study medicine.
Pro tempore (Latin) abbreviated as ‘pro tem’ meaning ‘for the time being’
Proviso (Latin) a condition that you ask for before you agree to do something
The money was given to a poor family with the proviso that it is spent on putting up a house.
Pseudo (Greek) false or not real, as in pseudo intellectuals
Psoriasis (Greek) a skin disease that causes rough red areas where the skin comes off in small pieces
Psyche (Greek) someone’s mind or their deepest feelings, which control their attitudes and behaviour
A characteristic of the feminine psyche is to seek approval from others.
Psycho (Greek) someone who is mentally ill and who may behave in a violent or strange way
Puisne (French) younger or junior as in a puisne judge.
Pukka (Hindi) real or properly made and of good quality, as in pukka food
Puma (Spanish) a cougar or a mountain lion
Pundit (Hindi) someone who is often asked to give their opinion publicly of a situation or subject, as in political pundits
Pupa (Latin) an insect at the stage before it becomes an adult, when it is protected by a special cover, as in moth pupa
Purdah (Urdu) the custom in some Muslim and Hindu societies in which women stay indoors or cover their faces so that men cannot see them
The bride remains in purdah until the wedding.
Puree (French) if you puree food, you crush it so that it is almost liquid, as in pureed potatoes
Putsch (Swiss German) a secretly planned attempt to remove a government by force, as in the Communist putsch
Pyromania (Greek) an obsessive urge to start fires
Pyrrhic (Latin) at too great a cost, usually referring to victories gained only with heavy losses to the winning side, as in a pyrrhic victory
Qua (Latin) in the capacity of
The article focuses on Clint Eastwood qua director rather than qua actor.
Quantum (Latin) a unit of energy in nuclear physics, as in a quantum leap in technology
Quarantine (French) to keep a person or animal apart from others for a period of time in case they are carrying a disease
The dog was kept in quarantine.
Quasi (Latin) like something else or trying to be something else, as in a quasi-scientific approach
Questionnaire (French) a written set of questions which you give to a large number of people in order to collect information, as in a questionnaire about people’s jobs
Quid pro quo (Latin) something that you give or do in exchange for something else, especially when this arrangement is not official
There is a quid pro quo for everything in politics
Quietus (Latin) death or cessation of activity
Quisling (Norwegian) someone who helps an enemy country that has taken control of their own country
Quorum (Latin) the smallest number of people who must be present at a meeting so that official decisions can be made
Quota (Latin) an official limit on the number or amount of something that is allowed in a particular period
The government will impose quotas on the export of timber.
Quo vadis (Latin) Where are you going?
Rabbi (Hebrew) a Jewish priest
Raconteur (French) a teller of anecdotes
Radius (Latin) the distance from the centre to the edge of a circle
Raga (Sanskrit) a melodic pattern or mode in traditional Indian music