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A pseudo-anglicism is a word in another language that is formed from English elements and may appear to be English, but that does not exist as an English word with the same meaning.[1][2][3][4][5]

For example, English speakers traveling in France may be struck by the "number of anglicisms—or rather words that look English—which are used in a different sense than they have in English, or which do not exist in English (such as rallye-paper, shake-hand, baby-foot, or baby-parc)".[6]

This is different from a false friend, which is a word with a cognate that has a different main meaning. Sometimes pseudo-anglicisms become false friends.[7]

Definition and terminology[edit]

Pseudo-anglicisms are also called secondary anglicisms,[8] false anglicisms,[9] or pseudo-English.[10]

Pseudo-anglicisms are a kind of lexical borrowing where the source or donor language is English, but where the borrowing is reworked in the receptor or recipient language.[11][12]

The precise definition varies. Duckworth defines pseudo-anglicisms in German as "neologisms derived from English language material."[11][13] Furiassi includes words that may exist in English with a "conspicuously different meaning".[14]

Typology and mechanism[edit]

Pseudo-anglicisms can be created in various ways, such as by archaism, i.e., words which once had that meaning in English but are since abandoned; semantic slide, where an English word is used incorrectly to mean something else; conversion of existing words from one part of speech to another; or recombinations by reshuffling English units.[15]

Onysko speaks of two types: pseudo-anglicisms and hybrid anglicisms. The common factor is that each type represents a neologism in the receptor language resulting from a combination of borrowed lexical items from English. Using German as the receptor language, an example of the first type is Wellfit-Bar, a combination of two English lexical units to form a new term in German, which does not exist in English, and which carries the meaning, "a bar that caters to the needs of health-starved people." An example of the second type, is a hybrid based on a German compound word, Weitsprung (long jump), plus the English 'coach', to create the new German word Weitsprung-Coach.[11]

According to Filipović, pseudoanglicisms can be formed through composition, derivation, or ellipsis. Composition in Serbo-Croatian involves creating a new compound from an English word to which is added the word man, as in the example, "GOAL" + man, giving golman. In derivation, a suffix -er or -ist is added to an anglicism, to create a new word in Serbo-Croatian, such as teniser, or waterpolist. An ellipsis drops something, and starts from a compound and drops a component, or from a derivative and drops -ing, as in boks from "boxing", or "hepiend" from "happy ending".[16]

Another process of word formation that can result in a pseudo-anglicism is a blend word, consisting of portions of two words, like brunch or smog. Rey-Debove & Gagnon attest tansad in French in 1919, from English tan[dem] + sad[dle].[17]


Pseudo-anglicisms can be found in many languages that have contact with English around the world, and are attested in nearly all European languages.[18]



  • Salaryman (サラリーマン, sararīman)[19] – a white collar employee (salaried worker)
  • Pokémon (ポケモン,"pocket monster")[19]


  • overeat – "vomiting" (오바이트 [ʰɯ])
  • hand phone – "cellphone" (핸드폰 [hɛn.dɯ.pon])








German pseudo anglicisms often have multiple valid and common ways of writing them, either as several words (Home Office), hyphenated (Home-Office), in one word (Homeoffice). Infrequently, CamelCase may also be used.[citation needed]

  • Beamer – a video projector[41]
  • Dressman – male model (Onysko calls this the 'canonical example' of a pseudo-anglicism.[11])
  • Flipper – a pinball machine[42]
  • Handy – a mobile phone[43]
  • Jobticket – a free pass for public transport provided by an employer for employees[44]
  • Oldtimer – an antique car[45][21]
  • Public Viewing – a public viewing event (party) of a soccer game or similar
  • Shooting – a photoshoot[46]
  • Trampen (verb) – hitchhiking[47]
  • Wellness-Bereich – a Spa[citation needed]


  • After work – a meeting for drinks after the workday is finished[48]
  • Backslick – A wet, combed-back hair style[citation needed]
  • Basket – Sport of basketball[49]
  • Pocket – A paper-back book[50]





  • Goalman (Golman / Голман) – Goalkeeper, Goalie[citation needed]
  • Recorder (Rekorder / Рекордер) – record holder (in sports)[citation needed]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ayres-Bennett 2014, p. 325,335.
  2. ^ Ilse Sørensen, English im deutschen Wortschatz, 1997, p. 18, as quoted in Onysko, 2007, p. 53: "words that look English, but which deviate from genuine English words either formally or semantically"
  3. ^ Sicherl 1999, p. 14.
  4. ^ Duckworth 1977.
  5. ^ Onysko 2007, p. 52The term pseudo-anglicism" describes the phenomenon that occurs when the RL['receptor language'; p.14] uses lexical elements of the SL['source language'; p.14] to create a neologism in the RL that is unknown in the SL. For the German language, Duckworth simply defines pseudo anglicisms as German neologisms derived from English language material.
  6. ^ Nicol Spence 1976, as quoted in Ayres-Bennett, 2014, p. 335
  7. ^ Henrik Gottlieb, "Danish pseudo-Anglicisms: A corpus-based analysis", p. 65 in Furiassi 2015
  8. ^ Filipović 1990.
  9. ^ Saugera 2017, p. 54, 3.4.2 False anglicisms.
  10. ^ Picone 1996, p. 316.
  11. ^ a b c d Onysko 2007, p. 52.
  12. ^ Carstensen 2015, p. 77
    The influence of a 'donor language' upon a 'recipient language' can be seen also, and above all, in the so-called pseudo-loanwords, as the literature names them. Den intensiven Einfluß einer donor language auf eine recipient language zeigen auch und ganz besonders die in der Literatur so genannten Scheinentlehnungen an.
  13. ^ Duckworth 1977, [page needed] : Neubildungen der deutschen Sprache mit Englischem Sprachmaterial.; as quoted in: Carstensen (2015, p. 77)
  14. ^ Furiassi 2010, p. 34, quoted in Lujan-Garcia (2017, p. 281)
    "[A] word or idiom that is recognizably English in its form (spelling, pronunciation, morphology, or at least one of the three), but is accepted as an item in the vocabulary of the receptor language even though it does not exist or is used with a conspicuously different meaning in English."
  15. ^ Anderman 2005, p. 164.
  16. ^ Filipović 1990, p. 138–139, 4.7 Adaptation of pseudoanglicisms.
  17. ^ Rey-Debove 1990, p. 1018.
  18. ^ Furiassi 2015, p. 17.
  19. ^ a b Furiassi 2015, p. 42.
  20. ^ a b c d Ayres-Bennett 2014, p. 335.
  21. ^ a b c d e Matthew Anderson, "The foreign words that seem like English – but aren't", BBC Culture 13 October 2016
  22. ^ Collins le Robert French Dictionary, 11th ed., 2020, s.v. (usage note)
  23. ^ Collins le Robert French Dictionary, 11th ed., 2020, s.v.
  24. ^ Geyer 1903, p. 19.
  25. ^ «Autogrill» , Vocabolario Treccani on line, Istituto dell'Enciclopedia italiana
  26. ^ «Autostop» , Vocabolario Treccani on line, Istituto dell'Enciclopedia italiana
  27. ^ «Beauty farm» , Vocabolario Treccani on line, Istituto dell'Enciclopedia italiana
  28. ^ «Bloc-Notes» , Vocabolario Treccani on line, Istituto dell'Enciclopedia italiana
  29. ^ Cristiano Furiassi, "How jolly is the joker? Problemi di traducibilità dei falsi anglicismi" in the Atti del 5° congresso di studi dell’Associazione Italiana di Linguistica Applicata (AItLA). Bari, 17,18 febbraio 2005
  30. ^ babylift, Den Danske Ordbog
  31. ^ butterfly, Den Danske Ordbog
  32. ^ cottoncoat, Den Danske Ordbog
  33. ^ cowboytoast, Den Danske Ordbog
  34. ^ Smoby grill med burger og pølser – Nu kan de mindste holde grillparty
  35. ^ monkeyclass, Den Danske Ordbog
  36. ^ smoking, Den Danske Ordbog
  37. ^ speedmarker, Den Danske Ordbog
  38. ^ stationcar, Den Danske Ordbog
  39. ^ timemanager, Den Danske Ordbog
  40. ^ Vullers, Pim (2012). "Beamer (LaTeX)". Radboud University. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  41. ^ "Duden | Beamer | Rechtschreibung, Bedeutung, Definition, Herkunft". (in German). Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  42. ^ [1]
  43. ^ Handy ohne Vertrag kaufen
  44. ^ "Duden | Jobticket | Rechtschreibung, Bedeutung, Definition, Herkunft". (in German). Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  45. ^ [2]
  46. ^ [3]
  47. ^ "Duden | Trampen | Rechtschreibung, Bedeutung, Definition, Herkunft". (in German). Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  48. ^ "After work ett svenskt påhitt" (in Swedish). Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  49. ^
  50. ^ Topplistan Pocket
  51. ^ "dres". Słownik wyrazów obcych (in Polish). Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN. Retrieved 11 April 2012.[permanent dead link]
  52. ^
  53. ^ «страйкбол», «Словари и энциклопедии на Академике»
  54. ^ Страйкбол, «Википедия»
  55. ^ Escalona, Katrina (5 September 2017). "16 English Words and Sayings Travellers Won't Understand in the Philippines". Retrieved 7 January 2019.


Further reading[edit]

  • James Stanlaw 2004, Japanese English: Language And The Culture Contact, Hong Kong University Press.
  • Laura Miller 1997, "Wasei eigo: English ‘loanwords' coined in Japan" in The Life of Language: Papers in Linguistics in Honor of William Bright, edited by Jane Hill, P.J. Mistry and Lyle Campbell, Mouton/De Gruyter: The Hague, pp. 123–139.
  • Geoff Parkes and Alan Cornell 1992, 'NTC's Dictionary of German False Cognates', National Textbook Company, NTC Publishing Group.
  • Ghil'ad Zuckermann 2003, ‘‘Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew’’, Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, (Palgrave Studies in Language History and Language Change, Series editor: Charles Jones). ISBN 1-4039-1723-X.

External links[edit]