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Everyday English words with French origins

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

How much do you know the roots of the English language? Most people know that English has Germanic roots, but that’s often the extent of it. And while English remains a Germanic language at its core, few people realise how potent the French influence is for our language. One date in medieval history in particular ensured that thousands of English words would have French origins, and would have ties to luxury and high-class culture.

The Battle of Hastings

On 14 October, 1066, the Battle of Hastings changed the course of the English language forever. Earlier that year, the English King, Edward the Confessor, died and King Harold took the throne. Sensing an opportunity (or a weakness perhaps), the Norman army, under Duke William of Normandy, advanced. It was a vicious attack, and back in this day, rulers didn’t shy away from a battle. In the midst of this onslaught, King Harold was killed. Normandy had won.

As a result, the courts were no longer in the hands of the English. This meant that the language of the ruling classes – the nobles and royalty – was French. And if English nobles wanted to maintain any power, they had better learn the ne