Misused foreign words in the English language

Posted by Audrey Dubois-Boutet on Oct 27, 2010 Oct 27, 2010

misused wordsEnglish speakers—in this case Americans—use foreign expressions on a daily basis. It adds to the feeling of that our country is a diverse one, since we’ve borrowed words from a large array of languages over the course of our history. These days, you may experience a déjà vu or express your gratitude with a friendly gracias!

But words and phrases of foreign origin are sometimes misused in the English language. From grammar errors to mispronunciation, some languages are unintentionally butchered. In the age of Google, there’s no reason to make these mistakes anymore, so why don’t we vow to research our commonly used foreign phrases?

Some have been cemented into the culture so deeply that few see error in it. The following are misused French and Spanish phrases we thought of off the top of our head:

- Entrée: Restaurant menus in the U.S. use the French word entrée to indicate a main dish. By definition, entrée means entrance, which means it should actually be used to describe an appetizer/first course (the entrance into the meal).

- No problemo: This Spanish phrase is often used by Americans as an alternate way of saying “no problem”. However, if you try to use that phrase on vacation in Mexico, you may get a funny look since it is grammatically incorrect. The correct phrasing is no hay problema, which literally means “There is no problem”.

- Vamoos: This mispronunciation of the Spanish word vamos, meaning “let’s go”, is often used in the U.S. by cartoon cowboys (like Yosemite Sam) and real people alike. The correct word choice is vámonos or vamos (notice the single “o”).

- Au revoir: This French phrase is often used to mean “goodbye”, but it actually means “until next time/see you later”. A more appropriate phrase to use in order to say "goodbye for good" is adieu, the equivalent of the Spanish adios.

What are some words and phrases you often hear misused? Let us know in a comment!

Topics: Language