Romanian lexis

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The lexis of the Romanian language (or Daco-Romanian), a Romance language, has changed over the centuries as the language evolved from Vulgar Latin, to Proto-Romanian, to medieval, modern and contemporary Romanian.


Romanian has inherited a number of about 10.000 (on a study based on 49,649 words) lexical items from its ancestral language, Latin. These comprise most basic concepts of society, for example:

  • om "human" (< Latin homo)
  • muiere "wife" (< Latin mulier)
  • fiu "son" (< Latin filius)
  • popor "folk" (< Latin populus)

Many words have not only changed their shape, but also their meaning during their evolution from Latin to Romanian. Such are:

  • bărbat "man" (< Latin barbatus "bearded")
  • femeie "woman" (< Latin familia "people belonging to a household")
  • inimă "heart" (< Latin anima "soul")
  • soț "husband" (< Latin socius "fellow")

Medieval Romanian[edit]

By the later Middle Ages, a great number of Slavic loanwords had already entered Romanian.

Among the basic Slavic loanwords are:

  • ceas clock
  • citi to read
  • crai king
  • curvă whore
  • da yes (the word may be derived from the Latin word "ita" meaning "of course" or "thus")
  • drag dear
  • dragoste love
  • duh spirit, ghost
  • haină shirt
  • iubi to love
  • izvor source
  • mândru proud
  • muncă work
  • noroc luck
  • opri stop
  • porni start
  • praf dust
  • prieten friend
  • prost stupid; simple
  • rând row; order
  • sărac poor
  • sfânt holy
  • sfert quarter
  • slanină bacon
  • smântână sour cream
  • sută hundred
  • târg market
  • tigaie pan
  • trup body
  • veac century
  • vreme weather; time
  • zid wall

(see also Slavic influence on Romanian)

Modern Romanian[edit]

In the 19th century, as the Romanian society transitioned from rural and agricultural towards urban and industrial, the lexis underwent a vigorous enrichment with loanwords from its Romance relatives, French and Italian. Many scholarly and technical terms were also imported from Neo-Latin. Some words, especially of Greek (arvună, ipochimen, simandicos) and Turkish (acadea, beizadea, hatâr) origin, fell into relative disuse or acquired an ironic connotation. The Slavic part of the lexis, of earlier entry and more deeply anchored into the language, survived relatively unscathed.

Among the words which entered the language:

  • deja "already" (from French déjà)
  • jena "disturb" (from French gener)
  • medic "physician" (from Latin medicus)
  • servi "serve" (from French or Italian)
  • ziar "newspapers" (from Italian diario)


Large parts of modern-day Romania were under Ottoman rule or suzerainty for several centuries. As a result, exchanges in language, food and culture occurred, and Romanian has absorbed several words of Turkish origin. A small ethnic Turkish minority still remains in some cities and towns.

  • abanos "ebony" (< Turkish abanoz)
  • arpagic "chive" (< Turkish arpacık)
  • baclava "baclava" (< Turkish baklava)
  • bacșiṣ "tip, gratuity" (< Turkish bahșiș)
  • basma "handkerchief" (< Turkish basma)
  • batal "wether" (< Turkish batal)
  • belea "misfortune" (< Turkish bela)
  • boi "appearance" (< Turkish boy)
  • bre "hey" (< Turkish bre)
  • briceag "pocket knife" (< Turkish bıçak)
  • buluc "pile" (< Turkish böluk)
  • burghiu "drill" (< Turkish bürgu)
  • bursuc "badger" (< Turkish porsuk)
  • caimac "cream" (< Turkish kaymak)
  • caisă "apricot" (< Turkish kayısı)
  • calcană "turbot" (< Turkish kalkan balığı)
  • caldarâm "pavement" (< Turkish kaldırım)
  • capcană "trap" (< Turkish kapkan)
  • caraghios "funny" (< Turkish Karagöz)
  • cat "storey" (< Turkish kat)

Contemporary Romanian[edit]

See also[edit]