GE|Adults|Upper-Int|23. Behind the words

Do you remember what these words mean and where they come from?


Read about the origin of ten English words


  • bounce (paragraph 2) move up and down like a ball
  • cape (5) a piece of clothing with no sleeves worn around your shoulders
  • tile (7) flat bricks used to cover roofs or floors
  • acronym (9) a short word which is made using the first letters of a group of words e.g. PIN = personal identification number
  • promptness (9) quickness
  • slang (9) very informal words and expressions

pic4_Adults|Grammar|Pre-Int|L12

Now complete the text with the words below. Did you guess any of them?

Try to remember the origin of each word

1. addict

2. alarm

3. broke

4. cab

5. escape

6. genuine

7. jeans

8. hooligan

9. husband

10. tip


1. husband Comes from two Old Norse words (the language spoken by the Vikings) which mean «house» and «owner». The word originally had nothing to do with marital status, except for the fact that home ownership made these men extremely desirable marriage partners.

2. cab From «cabrioler» a French word which means «jump like a goat». The first carriages for public hire bounced up and down so much that they reminded people of goats jumping on a hillside.

3. alarm From the Italian «To arms!», which was what soldiers shouted when they saw that the enemy was attacking.

4. jeans Genoa, called «Gene» by sixteenth-century Europeans, was the first city to make denim cloth. The trousers were named after the city.

5. escape In Latin, this means «without your cape». The ancient Romans would often avoid capture by throwing off their capes when fleeing so that their could run more quickly.

6. hooligan It is believed that this term originated because of an Irishman called Patrick with this surname who, with his family, terrorized a section of London in the 1890s.

7. broke Many banks in post-Renaissance Europe issued small, porcelain «borrower’s tiles» to their customers. Like credit cards, these tiles were imprinted with the owner’s name, his credit limit, and the name of the bank. Each time the customer wanted to borrow money, he had to present the tile to the bank clerk, who would compare the imprinted credit limit with how much the customer had already borrowed. If the borrower was over the limit, the clerk broke the tile on the spot.

8. genuine From the Latin, originally meant «placed on the knees». In Ancient Rome, a father legally claimed his newborn child as being his by sitting in front of his family and placing the child on his knee.

9. tip The popular explanation of the origin of this word is that it is an acronym meaning «То Insure Promptness», that is to make sure the service in e.g. a restaurant is fast. This is incorrect. The word was underworld slang from the early 1600s meaning to pass on a small sum of money.

10. addict This was the Latin name for a slave given to Roman soldiers to reward them for performance in battle. Eventually, this term was applied to anyone who was a slave to anything, e.g. a drug.


You’re going to listen to a dictionary expert talking on the radio about the origin of the words above

John Sally

John: Now it’s time for our regular Wednesday afternoon spot about words and their origins. And I have with me, as usual, our English language expert, Sally Davies. So what are the three words you are going to tell us about today, Sally?
Sally: Hello, John. My three words today are «ketchup»,»orange», — that’s the fruit, the colour came later -, and «tennis».
John: Let’s start with «ketchup» then.
Sally: Yes, well, the Chinese invented a sauce called «ke-tsiap», spelled K-E-hyphen-T-S-I-A-P in the 1690s. It was made from fish and spices, but absolutely no tomatoes. By the early eighteenth century, its popularity had spread to Malaysia, and this is where British explorers first found it, and obviously really liked it. By 1740 the sauce was part of the English diet — people were eating a lot of it and it was also becoming popular in the American colonies. And they renamed the sauce «ketchup», because it was a bit easier for the English to pronounce. Then about fifty years later, in 1790, some American colonists in New England mixed tomatoes into the sauce and it became known as «tomato ketchup».
John: So it is American after all?
Sally: Well, tomato ketchup is.
John: So, tell us about «orange»?
Sally: Well, it’s very interesting that neither «orange» in English nor «naranja» in Spanish or «arancia» in Italian, come from the Latin word for «orange», which was «citrus aurentium». Instead they, they all come from the ancient Sanskrit word «narangah». There is also an interesting story about where this word, «narangah», comes from. It’s said that it comes from «naga ranga», which literally means «poison for elephants.»
John: Poison for elephants?
Sally: Yes, apparently, one day in around the 7th or 8th century BC an elephant was passing through the forest, when he found a tree which he had never seen before. This tree was full of beautiful, tempting oranges; as a result, the elephant ate so many that he died. Many years later a man came to the same spot and noticed the remains of the elephant with some orange trees growing from what had been its stomach. The man then exclaimed, «These fruit are naga ranga» that is, «poison for elephants».
John: So is this true?
Sally: Well, I don’t know, but it’s a nice story!
John: And finally our last word is «tennis».
Sally: This is my favourite one, and it shows that the English have always had their own special way of pronouncing foreign languages. Tennis is a sport which first developed in France. The name was originally «tenez», which is from the French verb «tenir», which means in this case, something like «Here you are». Players used to say «tenez» when they hit the ball meaning something like «there, try to get this one». But the sport lost popularity in France and gained popularity in England at the same time. So, English people were still using the word «tenez» each time they hit the ball, but they were saying it with the English accent which sounded more like «tennis», and eventually it took this new spelling. Then the sport gained popularity worldwide and was taken up by many nationalities, including the French — but they now had to call it «le tennis»!
John: Fascinating! Well, thank you very much for those three words, Sally, and we’ll look forward to next week’s programme.


1. Which word’s origin is related to a legend?

2. Which word changed its form because the original word was hard for the English to say?

3. Which word originated from the way the English pronounced a foreign word?

Look at the words in the list. Then match the bold prefixes with their meanings

pic1_Adults|Grammar|Int|L43

One way of making new words is by adding a prefix at the beginning of a word,

e.g.over-, under-, mis-, etc.

These prefixes change the meaning of a word. They are usually used without a hyphen(-), but sometimes need one.

Unlike suffixes (which aren’t stressed), prefixes are often stressed, so a word with a prefix may have two stressed syllables, the main stress on the base word and secondary stress on the prefix,

e.g. antisocial).



Listen and repeat. Pay attention to the stress

antisocial [ˌæntɪ’səuʃ(ə)l] / autograph [‘ɔːtəgrɑːf] / ex-husband [‘eks ‘hʌzbənd] / biannual [baɪ’ænjuəl] / misspell [mɪs’spel] / microscopic [ˌmaɪkrə’skɔpɪk] / monosyllable [‘mɔnəˌsɪləbl] / multinational [ˌmʌltɪ’næʃ(ə)n(ə)l] / overworked [ˌəuvə’wɜːkt] / postgraduate [ˌpəust’græʤuət] / preconceived [ˌpriːkən’siːvd] / rewind [ˌriː’waɪnd] / semi-final [ˌsemɪ’faɪn(ə)l] / underpaid [ˌʌndə’peɪd]

Which prefix(es) could you add to the words in the list to describe…?

pic4_Adults|Grammar|El|L21


Answer the questions. Give more information

  1. Are there any professions which you think are overpaid?
  2. How often do you take antibiotics?
  3. Do you like reading autobiographies?
  4. Do you know any ex-smokers?
  5. Do you know any people who are bilingual?
  6. Are there any English words you sometimes mispronounce?
  7. Who do you think are better at multitasking, men or women?
  8. How often do you buy pre-cooked meals?
  9. When was the last time you redecorated your room or flat?

Complete the phrasal verbs with the correct form of the verb


  • go on — If something is going on, it is happening
  • end up — If someone or something ends up somewhere, they eventually arrive there, usually by accident
  • pick up — When you pick up someone or something that is waiting to be collected, you go to the place where they are and take them away, often in a car
  • take up — If you take up an activity or a subject, you become interested in it and spend time doing it, either as a hobby or as a career

Use a prefix from list A and a word from list В to complete the sentences

pic4_Adults|Grammar|El|L20


Complete the sentences with the correct forms of the words in the boxes

GE_Beg_22_6

Complete the sentences with the correct form of a verb

Listen to a radio programme and write down two advantages the speaker mentions of Esperanto compared to other languages


Presenter Nick

Presenter: Today we have with us linguist Nick Harper
Presenter: to tell us a bit about the forgotten language of Esperanto.
Presenter: Nick, whatever happened to Esperanto?
Presenter: Does anyone speak it nowadays?
Nick: Well, yes they do actually.
Nick: There are an estimated 1.6 million speakers of Esperanto
Nick: in the world today.
Presenter: That’s amazing.
Presenter: So tell us something about the history of the language.
Nick: Well, it was developed at the end of the nineteenth century
Nick: by a Polish doctor called Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof.
Nick: His idea was that people of different countries
Nick: could communicate in a common language.
Nick: He thought this would help to avoid conflict
Nick: between nations and prevent wars.
Presenter: But why invent a new language?
Presenter: Why not convert one of the existing ones?
Nick: Well, Zamenhof thought that the major languages of the day —
Nick: French, German, Russian, and English — were too difficult for people to learn.
Nick: He also believed that a native speaker would always have the advantage
Nick: in a discussion with non-native speakers.
Nick: So that’s why he proposed a new language
Nick: where everyone would be equal.
Nick: That language was Esperanto.
Presenter: So, Esperanto is easier to learn than other languages?
Nick: Yes, much easier.
Nick: It’s an artificial language made up of five vowels
Nick: and 23 consonants with phonetic spelling,
Nick: logical grammar rules, and regular verb endings.
Nick: Experts say that for an English speaker,
Nick: Esperanto is five times easier to learn than French or Spanish,
Nick: ten times easier than Russian,
Nick: and 20 times easier than Chinese or Arabic.
Presenter: It sounds perfect!
Presenter: So what happened?
Presenter: Why aren’t we all speaking Esperanto?
Nick: Well, in the beginning Esperanto was quite successful,
Nick: especially in Central and Eastern Europe and in the old Soviet Union.
Nick: There was even talk of replacing Chinese with Esperanto
Nick: after the 1911 revolution in China,
Nick: but of course this never happened.
Presenter: So, who uses Esperanto today?
Nick: Well it’s still spoken as a second language
Nick: in about 90 countries of the world,
Nick: it’s on the school curriculum in China,
Nick: Hungary, and Bulgaria, and it’s also being taught in some British schools
Nick: as a way of helping students to learn other languages.
Presenter: Thank you Nick Harper for talking to us



Listen again and complete the notes. You sometimes have to write more than one word.

Presenter Nick

Presenter: Today we have with us linguist Nick Harper
Presenter: to tell us a bit about the forgotten language of Esperanto.
Presenter: Nick, whatever happened to Esperanto?
Presenter: Does anyone speak it nowadays?
Nick: Well, yes they do actually.
Nick: There are an estimated 1.6 million speakers of Esperanto
Nick: in the world today.
Presenter: That’s amazing.
Presenter: So tell us something about the history of the language.
Nick: Well, it was developed at the end of the nineteenth century
Nick: by a Polish doctor called Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof.
Nick: His idea was that people of different countries
Nick: could communicate in a common language.
Nick: He thought this would help to avoid conflict
Nick: between nations and prevent wars.
Presenter: But why invent a new language?
Presenter: Why not convert one of the existing ones?
Nick: Well, Zamenhof thought that the major languages of the day —
Nick: French, German, Russian, and English — were too difficult for people to learn.
Nick: He also believed that a native speaker would always have the advantage
Nick: in a discussion with non-native speakers.
Nick: So that’s why he proposed a new language
Nick: where everyone would be equal.
Nick: That language was Esperanto.
Presenter: So, Esperanto is easier to learn than other languages?
Nick: Yes, much easier.
Nick: It’s an artificial language made up of five vowels
Nick: and 23 consonants with phonetic spelling,
Nick: logical grammar rules, and regular verb endings.
Nick: Experts say that for an English speaker,
Nick: Esperanto is five times easier to learn than French or Spanish,
Nick: ten times easier than Russian,
Nick: and 20 times easier than Chinese or Arabic.
Presenter: It sounds perfect!
Presenter: So what happened?
Presenter: Why aren’t we all speaking Esperanto?
Nick: Well, in the beginning Esperanto was quite successful,
Nick: especially in Central and Eastern Europe and in the old Soviet Union.
Nick: There was even talk of replacing Chinese with Esperanto
Nick: after the 1911 revolution in China,
Nick: but of course this never happened.
Presenter: So, who uses Esperanto today?
Nick: Well it’s still spoken as a second language
Nick: in about 90 countries of the world,
Nick: it’s on the school curriculum in China,
Nick: Hungary, and Bulgaria, and it’s also being taught in some British schools
Nick: as a way of helping students to learn other languages.
Presenter: Thank you Nick Harper for talking to us


Read the article and complete it with sentences numbered 1-6. Look at the words and phrases in bold. Use your dictionary to look up their meaning and pronunciation


  1. For most of us the idea of having the weaknesses of our speech exposed is scary.
  2. I talk for two minutes on four topics: a happy memory, a sad memory, something that makes me angry, and a neutral work-related topic.
  3. The idea is that when you are tempted to say «um» you simply remain quiet.
  4. Mr Grant receives a report on the results and, armed with that information, he and his colleagues coach me to use my voice more effectively.
  5. On the other hand I do not vary my pitch much, which means I have a monotonous voice.
  6. Voice coaching, once only for actors, is now commonly used by politicians and business people.

Match the definitions with the words in bold

Read the instructions

HW tasks

Read the 🔗article about word origin stories.

Choose 3-5 words from the list of loanwords:

  • queue
  • hazard
  • schmuck
  • kimono
  • karaoke
  • mugwump
  • hummus
  • nightmare
  • malaria
  • quarantine
  • clue
  • groggy
  • palace
  • fake
  • cabal
  • golf
  • posh
  • kangaroo

Find information on the Internet where these words come from. Mention the following:

  • the place of origin and time of entering the English language;
  • its meaning;
  • the story behind the word (either true or fake).

Write about the origin of 3-5 loanwords you have chosen. Follow the instructions and use words from the list

1. slang
2. eventually
3. go on
4. end up
5. pick up
6. take up
7. preconceived
8. misspell
9. come from
10. have nothing to do with


  • it is believed that
  • originally meant
  • a name for
  • to be applied
  • from the spanish/the greek/the latin word
  • in spanish/greek/latin
  • except for the fact that


Instructions

  1. Read the topic and the questions carefully.
  2. Plan what you are going to write about.
  3. Write the text according to your plan.
  4. Check your writing before sending it for evaluation.
  5. Learn the rules and see the sample 🔗here.
  6. Please use 🔗Grammarly to avoid spelling and some grammar mistakes.
  • Warm-up
  • The story behind the words
  • What are the words?
  • Let's remember
  • A dictionary expert
  • Prefixes and word stress
  • Which prefix?
  • Phrasal verbs
  • Prefix
  • Phrasal verbs in context
  • Esperanto
  • Loud and clear
  • The story behind the words
  1. 1. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|1. The power of music
  2. 2. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|2. What's your soundtrack?
  3. 3. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|3. Are you sleep deprived?
  4. 4. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|4. Sleepwalkers
  5. 5. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|5. The media
  6. 6. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|6. Being a journalist
  7. 7. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|7. Practical English 1
  8. 8. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|Revise and check 1
  9. 9. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|8. One small word
  10. 10. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|9. Presentation disaster
  11. 11. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|10. Towns and cities
  12. 12. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|11. Just a minute
  13. 13. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|12. Help me, I'm a tourist
  14. 14. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|13. Creative thinking
  15. 15. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|14. Suffering for science
  16. 16. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|15. Practical English 2
  17. 17. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|Revise and check 2
  18. 18. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|16. Things that really annoy us
  19. 19. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|17. Regrets, I've had a few
  20. 20. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|18. I wish...
  21. 21. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|19. Honest workers or thieves?
  22. 22. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|20. Business and advertising
  23. 23. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|21. Advertising tricks
  24. 24. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|22. The meaning of Tingo
  25. 25. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|23. Behind the words
  26. 26. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|24. Practical English 3
  27. 27. GE|Adults|Upper-Int|Revise and Check 3