Popular English Phrases with Foreign Origin

English is the only language that is accepted and understood across the globe. It is the most commonly-spoken language and bridges the communication gap between nations. A lot of English words and phrases owes its origin to many languages including, French, Spanish, Sanskrit, Hindi, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, etc. Let’s learn some of the popular English phrases and words which is originally the brainchild of a foreign land.

Popular idioms    

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

This means others might not equally acknowledge someone’s beauty that is recognized by the onlooker. This owes its origin to Greek philosophy that dates back to third century BC.

It’s all Greek to me

This phrase is commonly used to express something that is difficult or impossible to understand. Although popularized by William Shakespeare in his legendary work ‘Julius Caesar’, this is originally a Latin phrase used by the scribes of the medieval age.

‘What’s done is done’

This English phrase is self-explanatory. This was a usage in Hebrew language which dates back to early 15th century, later popularized by Shakespeare in his play ‘Macbeth’.

Achilles’ heel 

This means a flaw in a person. Often used by English speaking populace, this phrase owes its origin to the Greek mythology where a Trojan war hero died because of a wound in his heel.

Midas touch

This phrase is referred to a person who is believed to bring good fortune. This again owes its origin to the Greek mythology where King Midas was granted a wish of whatever he touches will turn into gold.

Butter someone up

This means to flatter someone excessively with a vested interest. This is originally an Indian phrase because there used to be a practice of throwing butterballs at the statues of Gods to seek favor in Ancient India.

Catch someone red-handed

This means to catch someone while they are doing something wrong.  This is a Scottish phrase where there was a law of convicting a person who is found butchering an animal that’s not his own while they have blood on their hands.

French words commonly used in English

Bon appétit, à la carte, soirée, voila, chic, savoir-faire, beau, bon voyage, Restaurant,  bric-a-brac, , laissez-faire, mélange, avant-garde, couture, silhouette, resume, petite, bourgeois, cliché, souvenir, fiancé, genre, beau, entrepreneur, en route, café, picnic, etc.

Spanish words commonly used in English

Lasso, sierra, armadillo, fiesta, plaza, aficionado, tango, guerilla, burrito, mojito, salsa, tequila, patio, mosquito, rodeo, poncho, bonanza, etc.

Italian words commonly used in English

Bravo, cello, diva, duel, crescendo, opera, sonata, apartment, graffiti, replica, motto, ditto, cavalier, mafia, dilemma, vendetta, inferno, etc.

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