We use a lot of words in English whose origins lie elsewhere.

Just English

Over the centuries the English language has assimilated words and phrases from a variety of other languages. In context, those listed here are often printed in italics.


ab initio

Latin from the beginning
a cappellaItalian sung without instrumental accompaniment (literally ‘in chapel style’)
à deuxFrench for or involving two people
ad hocLatin made or done for a particular purpose (literally ‘to this’)
ad infinitumLatin endlessly; forever (literally ‘to infinity’)
ad interimLatin for the meantime
ad nauseamLatin to a tiresomely excessive degree (literally ‘to sickness’)
a fortioriLatin more conclusively (literally ‘from a stronger [argument]’)
agent provocateurFrench a person who tempts a suspected criminal to commit a crime so that they can be caught and convicted (literally ‘provocative agent’)
à huis closFrench in private (literally ‘with closed doors’)
al denteItalian (of food) cooked so as to be still firm when…

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