Dictionary.com Word FAQs
What is the difference between "native" and "borrowed" words?
Native is a slightly misleading term in regard to words. In the United States, we call words that originated here Americanisms. An Americanism is any word or phrase that is peculiar to, or extending from, the United States. (Similarly, a Briticism is a word, phrase, or idiom characteristic of or peculiar to English as it is spoken in Great Britain.) Everything other than Americanisms is actually borrowed. Borrowing is the adoption of a linguistic expression from one language into another language, usually when no term exists for the new object, concept, or state. Causes of borrowing include cultural, economic, political, or social developments. Throughout its history, English has been subjected to influences from foreign cultures and languages. Christianization, the expansion of the Roman Empire, migrations, development of the humanities and science, French borrowings since the Norman conquest, recent borrowings from dozens of other languages in modern times, the growth of telecommunications, and universal travel have all enriched English. It would be hard to prove that native words - even Americanisms - were not influenced by other languages.