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List of calques

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List of calques

A calque /ˈkælk/ or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word (Latin: "verbum pro verbo") or root-for-root translation. This list contains examples of calques in various languages.


From Chinese


From French

From German or Dutch

  • Masterpiece: probably translation of Dutch meesterstuk or German Meisterstück: Dutch meester and German Meister, master + Dutch stuk and German Stück, piece of work.[20] (The Dutch translation of masterpiece is meesterwerk, the German translation is Meisterwerk.)

From Dutch

From German

From Hebrew

  • Scapegoat is a mistaken calque of עזאזל (Azazel) as ez ozel ( literally, "the goat that departs," hence "[e]scape goat"). The mistranslation is attributed to William Tyndale in his 1530 translation of the Bible.[45]

From Latin

  • Commonplace calques locus commūnis (referring to a generally applicable literary passage), which itself is a calque of Greek koinos topos[46]
  • Devil's advocate calques advocātus diabolī, referring to an official appointed to present arguments against a proposed canonization or beatification in the Catholic Church[47]
  • Wisdom tooth calques dēns sapientiae[48]
  • Milky Way calques via lactea[49]
  • Rest in Peace calques requiescat in pace[50]
  • In a nutshell calques in nuce[51][52]

From Spanish

  • Blue-blood calques sangre azul[53]
  • Moment of truth calques el momento de la verdad, which refers to the time of the final sword thrust in a bullfight.[54]

From other languages


  • Latin compassio calques Greek sympathia "sympathy" (Latin: "suffering with", Greek: "suffering together")
  • Latin deus ex machina calques Greek apo mechanēs theos" (Latin: "god out of the machine", Greek: "out of the machine, god")
  • Latin insectus calques Greek entomos ("insect", from words meaning "to cut into" in the respective languages)[56]
  • Latin musculus "muscle" (= "common house mouse", literally "little mouse" from mus "mouse") calques Greek mys "muscle" (= "mouse")
  • Latin magnanimus calques Greek megalopsychos (from words meaning "great-souled" in the respective languages)[57]

Romance languages

Examples of Romance language expressions calqued from foreign languages include:

  • French lune de miel, Catalan lluna de mel, Spanish luna de miel, Portuguese lua-de-mel, Italian luna di miele and Romanian luna de miere calque English honeymoon
  • French gratte-ciel, Catalan gratacels, Spanish rascacielos, Portuguese arranha-céus, Romanian zgârie-nori and Italian grattacielo calque English skyscraper
  • French sabot de Denver calques English Denver boot
  • French jardin d'enfants, Spanish jardín de infancia and Portuguese Jardim de infância calque German Kindergarten (children's garden)
  • Spanish baloncesto and Italian pallacanestro calque English basketball
  • Italian pallavolo calques English volleyball


  • French courriel (contraction of courrier électronique) calques English email (contraction of electronic mail)
  • French disque dur calques English hard disk
  • French carte mère calques English motherboard
  • French eau de vie calques Latin aqua vitae
  • French en ligne calques English online
  • French hors-ligne (literally: "out of line, off line") calques English offline
  • French haute résolution calques English high resolution
  • French haute tension calques English high voltage
  • French disque compact calques English compact disc
  • French haute fidélité calques English hi-fi (high fidelity)
  • French large bande calques English broadband
  • French modulation de fréquence calques English frequency modulation (FM)
  • French média de masse calques English mass media
  • French seconde main calques English second hand
  • French sortir du placard calques English to come out of the closet
  • French surhomme calques German Übermensch (Nietzsche's concept)
  • French souris calques English mouse (computer peripheral)
  • French OVNI (Objet Volant Non Identifié) calques English UFO (Unidentified Flying Object)
  • In some dialects of French, the English term "weekend" becomes la fin de semaine ("the end of week"), a calque, but in some it is left untranslated as le week-end, a loanword.
  • French cor anglais (literally English horn) is a near-calque of English French horn. In English cor anglais refers to a completely different musical instrument.


Many calques found in Southwestern US Spanish, come from English:

  • Spanish escuela alta calques English high school (secundaria or escuela secundaria in Standard Spanish)
  • Spanish grado (de escuela) calques English grade (in school) (nota in Standard Spanish)

Also technological terms calqued from English are used throughout the Spanish-speaking world:

  • Spanish rascacielos calques English skyscraper
  • Spanish tarjeta de crédito calques English credit card
  • Spanish alta tecnología calques English high technology
  • Spanish disco compacto calques English compact disc
  • Spanish correo electrónico calques English electronic mail
  • Spanish alta resolución calques English high resolution
  • Spanish enlace calques English link (Internet)
  • Spanish ratón calques English mouse (computer)
  • Spanish nave espacial calques English spaceship
  • Spanish en un momento dado calques Dutch op een gegeven moment (At a certain moment)[58]


  • Italian aria condizionata calques English air conditioned
  • Italian fine settimana calques English week-end
  • Italian ferrovia (railway) calques German Eisenbahn

Germanic languages

Afrikaans and Dutch

  • Afrikaans aartappel and Dutch aardappel calque French pomme de terre (English potato "earth apple")
  • Afrikaans besigheid calques English business
  • Afrikaans e-pos calques English e-mail
  • Afrikaans hardeskyf and Dutch harde schijf calque English hard disk
  • Afrikaans klankbaan calques English sound track
  • Afrikaans kleurskuifie calques English colour slide
  • English pineapple calques Dutch pijnappel (Afrikaans spelling: pynappel), which calque French pomme de pin
  • Afrikaans sleutelbord calques English keyboard
  • Afrikaans tuisblad calques English homepage
  • Afrikaans wolkekrabber and Dutch wolkenkrabber calque German Wolkenkratzer (which itself calques English sky scraper).


  • Fußball calques English "football", referring specifically to association football
  • Teddybär calques English teddy bear
  • Wolkenkratzer calques English skyscraper
  • Flutlicht calques English floodlight
  • Datenverarbeitung calques English data processing
  • Großmutter and Großvater calques French grand-mère and grand-père
  • Rundreise calques French tournée
  • Fernsehen calques English television (from the Greek affix tele- "far" and Latin visio "sight")


  • Icelandic rafmagn, "electricity," is a half-calqued coinage that literally means "amber power."
    • raf translates the Greek root ηλεκτρον (elektron), which means "amber"
    • magn, "power," is descriptive of electricity's nature but not a direct calque from the source word "electricity"
  • One of the early suggestions for an Icelandic translation of helicopter was þyrilvængja, twirling wings, a calque of the Greek helico-pteron. This was later replaced with þyrla.


Note: From a technical standpoint, Danish and the bokmål standard of Norwegian are the same language, with minor spelling and pronunciation differences (equivalent to British and American English). For this reason, they will share a section.

  • Danish børnehave and Norwegian barnehage calque German Kindergarten: barne = børne = Kinder = children; hage = have = Garten = garden[59]
  • hjemmeside calques English home page.[60]
  • Danish hjerneflugt and Norwegian hjerneflukt (literally, brain flight) calque English brain drain.[61]
  • idiotsikker calques English "foolproof".[62]
  • loppemarked calques French marché aux puces (flea market, itself a calque from the French).[63]
  • mandag (Monday), from Old Norse mánadagr ("moon day") calques Latin dies lunæ.[64]
  • overhode (head of a family, chief) calques German Oberhaupt (ober "over", Haupt "head").[65]
  • samvittighet (conscience) calques Latin (through Low German) conscientia (com "with", scire "to know").[66]
    • From sam- (co-) and vittig (today meaning "funny" but which stems from Low German, where it meant "reasonable", related to "vite" (to know) and English "wit".)
  • tenåring calques English teenager: femten = fifteen, åring = annual harvest[67]


  • tonåring calques English teen-ager: femton = fifteen, åring = annual harvest


  • skyskrapa calques skyscraper.

Slavic languages


  • Macedonian ракопис (rakopis) calques Latin-derived 'manuscript' and 'handwriting':
    • Mac. root рака (raka) = Lat. manus = 'hand'
    • Mac. root пис- (pis-) = Lat. scribo = 'to write'
  • Macedonian правопис (pravopis) calques Greek-derived 'orthography':
    • Mac. root право (pravo) = Gr. ορθός (orthos) = 'correct';
    • Mac. root пис- (pis-) = Gr. γράφειν (graphein) = 'to write'
  • Macedonian православие (pravoslavie) calques Greek-derived 'orthodoxy':
    • Mac. root право (pravo) = Gr. ορθός (orthos) = 'correct';
    • Mac. root славие (slavie) = Gr. δοξα (doxa) = 'glorification'

In more recent times, the Macedonian language has calqued new words from other prestige languages including German, French and English.

  • Macedonian натчовек (natčovek) = calques German-derived 'overman' (Übermensch)
    • Mac. root над- (nad-) = Ger. über = 'over'
    • Mac. root човек (čovek, man) = Ger. mensch = 'people'
  • Macedonian облакодер (oblakoder) = calques English skyscraper:
    • Mac. root облак (oblak, cloud)
    • Mac. root дере (dere, to flay)
  • Macedonian клучен збор (klučen zbor) = calques English keyword:
    • Mac. root клуч (kluč, key)
    • Mac. root збор (zbor, word)

Some words were originally calqued into Russian and then absorbed into Macedonian, considering the close relatedness of the two languages. Therefore, many of these calques can also be considered Russianisms.


The poet Aleksandr Pushkin (1799–1837) was perhaps the most influential among the Russian literary figures who would transform the modern Russian language and vastly expand its ability to handle abstract and scientific concepts by importing the sophisticated vocabulary of Western intellectuals.

Although some Western vocabulary entered the language as loanwords – e.g., Italian salvietta, "napkin," was simply Russified in sound and spelling to салфетка (salfetka) – Pushkin and those he influenced most often preferred to render foreign borrowings into Russian by calquing. Compound words were broken down to their component roots, which were then translated piece-by-piece to their Slavic equivalents. But not all of the coinages caught on and became permanent additions to the lexicon; for example, любомудрие (ljubomudrie) was promoted by 19th-century Russian intellectuals as a calque of "philosophy," but the word eventually fell out of fashion, and modern Russian instead uses the loanword философия (filosofija).

  • Russian любомудрие (ljubomudrie) calqued Greek-derived 'philosophy':
    • Russ. root любить (ljubit' ) = Gr. φιλεῖν (filein) = 'to love';
    • Russ. root мудрость (mudrost' ) = Gr. σοφία (sofia) = 'wisdom'
  • Russian зависимость (zavisimost' ) calques Latin-derived 'dependence':
    • Russ. root за (za) = Lat. de = 'down from'
    • Russ. root висеть (viset' ) = Lat. pendere = 'to hang; to dangle'
  • Russian совпадение (sovpadenije) calques Latin-derived 'coincidence':
    • Russ. prefix со- (so) = Lat. co- = 'in; with; together'
    • Russ. prefix в- (v) = Lat. in- = 'in; into'
    • Russ. root падать (padat' ) = Lat. cidere = 'to fall'
  • Russian полуостров (poluostrov) calques German Halbinsel, both meaning 'peninsula':
    • Russ. root полу- (polu-) = Ger. halb = 'half; semi-'
    • Russ. root остров (ostrov) = Ger. Insel = 'island'
  • Russian детский сад (detskij sad) calques German Kindergarten, both literally suggesting 'children's garden'


  • Διαδίκτυο from English Internet
  • Ποδόσφαιρο from English "football", referring specifically to association football
  • Τηλεόραση from Television



Since Finnish, a Uralic language, differs radically in pronunciation and orthography from Indo-European languages, most loans adopted in Finnish either are calques or soon become such as foreign words are translated into Finnish. Examples include:

  • from Greek: sarvikuono (rhinoceros, from Greek "rinokeros"),
  • from Latin: viisaudenhammas (wisdom tooth, from Latin "dens sapientiae"),
  • from English: jalkapallo (English "football", specifically referring to association football),
  • from English: koripallo (English "basketball"),
  • from English: kovalevy (English "hard disk"),
  • from French: kirpputori (flea market, French "marché aux puces"),
  • from German: lastentarha (German "Kindergarten"),
  • from German: panssarivaunu (German "Panzerwagen"),
  • from Swedish: pesukarhu (raccoon, from Swedish "tvättbjörn" and ultimately German "Waschbär"),
  • from Swedish: moottoritie (highway, from Swedish "motorväg" and ultimately German "autobahn"),
  • from Chinese: aivopesu (brainwash, from Chinese "xi nao"),
  • from Spanish: siniverinen (blue-blooded, from Spanish "de sangre azul")

Modern Hebrew

When Jews make aliyah to Israel, they sometimes change their name to a Hebrew calque. For instance, Imi Lichtenfield, founder of the martial art Krav Maga, became Imi Sde-Or. Both last names mean "light field".

  • mesilat barzel (railway) from German Eisenbahn
  • iton (newspaper) from German and Yiddish zeitung
  • tappuach adamah (potato) from French pomme-de-terre
  • gan yeladim from German Kindergarten
  • kaduregel (כדורגל) (football, specifically association football) from English football

According to linguist Ghil'ad Zuckermann, the more contributing languages have a structurally identical expression, the more likely it is to be calqued into the target language. In Israeli (his term for "Modern Hebrew") one uses má nishmà, lit. "what's heard?", with the meaning of "what's up?". Zuckermann argues that this is a calque not only of the Yiddish expression Was hört sich? (usually pronounced v(o)sérts´kh), lit. "what's heard?", meaning "what's up?", but also of the parallel expressions in Polish, Russian and Romanian. Whereas most revivalists were native Yiddish-speakers, many first speakers of Modern Hebrew spoke Russian and Polish too. So a Polish speaker in the 1930s might have used má nishmà not (only) due to Yiddish Was hört sich? but rather (also) due to Polish Co słychać? A Russian Jew might have used ma nishma due to Что слышно? (pronounced chto slyshno) and a Romanian Israeli would echo ce se aude.[68] According to Zuckermann, such multi-sourced calquing is a manifestation of the Congruence principle.[69]


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