List of English words of Czech origin

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This is a list of word coming to English from or via Czech, or originating in the Czech lands. Words and expressions derived from the Czech language are called Bohemisms.

  • Absurdistan (in Czech Absurdistán) - word created by Eastern Bloc dissidents, passed into English mainly through works of Václav Havel.
  • háček - a diacritical mark, literally "little hook", e.g. č is letter c having háček. Also known as "caron".
  • howitzer - from houfnice, a 15th-century Hussite catapult; houf meaning crowd or band
  • kolache – from koláč or koláček.
  • koczwarism - Sexual asphyxiophilia in medical slang; after František Kočvara
  • pistol - from píšťala, a 15th-century Hussite firearm (alternative sources have been suggested, see the article for details)
  • polka - from Polák or polský, a Czech dance named in remembrance of the November Uprising of 1830; or from Půlka, in English half because of its tempo
  • robot - from Czech robota (labour, drudgery), introduced in Karel Čapek's play R.U.R. from the 1920s.
  • semtex - a plastic explosive named after Semtín, part of the city of Pardubice, Czech Republic, location of its manufacturer.
  • tunnelling - a colloquial term for financial fraud committed by a company's own management or major shareholders. Widely used in the Czech Republic (and Slovakia) since the first half of the 1990s to describe the massive asset stripping during transition from planned economy.

Sometimes it is mistakenly claimed hocus-pocus has Czech origin since pokus means trial (attempt) or experiment.


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