Anglicisation (or anglicization, see English spelling differences), occasionally anglification, anglifying, Englishing, refers to modifications made to foreign words, names and phrases to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or understand in English.[1][2] It commonly refers to the respelling of foreign words, often to a more drastic degree than romanisation. One example is the word "dandelion", modified from the French dent-de-lion (“lion’s tooth”, because of the sharply indented leaves).

Anglicising non-English words for use in English is just one case of the widespread domestication of foreign words that is common to many languages, sometimes involving shifts in meaning. One example is the German word Felleisen (a backpack), a germanization of the French word valise (small suitcase).

This term does not cover the unmodified adoption of foreign words into English (kindergarten); the unmodified adoption of English words into foreign languages (internet, computer, web), or the voluntary or enforced adoption of the English language or of British or American customs and culture in other countries or ethnic groups, also known as social and economic anglicisation. (Examples being the action of the English crown in the Celtic regions of the United Kingdom, in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall; the policy on use of the English language as one of the causes contributing to the South African Wars (1879–1915);[3] or the adoption of English as a personal, preferred language in countries where that language is not native, but has become for historical reasons the language of government, commerce, and instruction.)

Modified loan words

Non-English words may be anglicised by changing their form and/or pronunciation to something more familiar to English speakers. Changing grammatical endings is especially common. The Latin word obscenus /obskeːnʊs/ has been imported into English in the modified form "obscene" /obˈsiːn/. The plural form of a foreign word may be modified to more conveniently fit English norms, like using "indexes" as the plural of index, rather than indices, as in Latin. The word "opera" (itself the plural form of the Latin word opus) is understood in English to be a singular noun, so it has received an English plural form, "operas". The English word "damsel" is an anglicisation of the Old French damoisele (modern demoiselle), meaning "young lady". Another form of anglicising is the inclusion of a foreign article as part of a noun (such as alkali from the Arabic al-qili). "Rotten Row", the name of a London pathway that was a fashionable place to ride horses in the 18th and 19th centuries, is an adaptation of the French phrase Route du Roi. The word "genie" has been anglicized via Latin from jinn or djinn from Arabic: الجن‎, al-jinn originally meaning demon or spirit. Some changes are motivated by the desire to preserve the pronunciation of the word in the original language, such as the word "schtum", which is phonetic spelling for the German word stumm, meaning silent.[4]

The word "charterparty"[note 1] is an anglicisation of the French homonym charte partie[note 2]; the "party" element of "charterparty" does not mean "a party to the contract".

The French word "homage" was introduced by the Normans after 1066,[note 3] and its pronunciation became anglicised as /ˈhɒmɪdʒ/, with stress on the first syllable; but in recent times showbusiness and Hollywood have taken to pronouncing "homage" in the French fashion, rhyming with "fromage".

Modified place names

Some foreign place names are commonly anglicised in English. Examples include the Danish city København (Copenhagen), the Russian city Москва Moskva (Moscow), the Swedish city Göteborg (Gothenburg), the Dutch city Den Haag (The Hague), the Spanish city of Sevilla (Seville), the Egyptian city of القاهرة Al-Qāhira (Cairo), and the Italian city of Firenze (Florence).

Such anglicisation was once more common. In the late 19th century, however, use of non-English place names in English began to become more common. When dealing with languages that use the same Latin alphabet as English, names are now more usually written in English as in their local language, sometimes even with diacritical marks that do not normally appear in English. With languages that use non-Latin alphabets, such as the Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Korean Hangul, and other alphabets, a direct transliteration is typically used, which is then often pronounced according to English rules. Non-Latin based languages may use standard romanisation systems, such as Japanese Rōmaji or Chinese Pīnyīn. The Japanese and Chinese names in English follow these spellings with some common exceptions, usually without Chinese tone marks and without Japanese macrons for long vowels: Chóngqìng to Chongqing (重慶, 重庆), Shíjiāzhuāng to Shijiazhuang (石家莊, 石家庄), both in China; Kyōto to Kyoto (京都) in Japan.

Many English names for foreign places have been directly taken over from the French version, sometimes unchanged, such as Cologne, Rome, Munich, Naples, sometimes only slightly changed, like Vienna (Vienne), Venice (Venise), Lisbon (Lisbonne), Seville (Séville). The English city-name for the Czech capital, Prague (Praha), is taken with spelling unaltered from the French name for the city, itself descended from the Latin name for the city (Praga), which had been borrowed from an earlier Czech name (pre-dating the /g/>/h/ shift).

De-anglicisation has become a matter of national pride in some places and especially in regions that were once under colonial rule, where vestiges of colonial domination are a sensitive subject.[5][6] Following centuries of English rule in Ireland, Douglas Hyde delivered an argument for de-anglicisation before the Irish National Literary Society in Dublin, 25 November 1892: "When we speak of 'The Necessity for De-Anglicising the Irish Nation', we mean it, not as a protest against imitating what is best in the English people, for that would be absurd, but rather to show the folly of neglecting what is Irish, and hastening to adopt, pell-mell, and, indiscriminately, everything that is English, simply because it is English."[5] Despite its status as an official language, Irish has been reduced to a minority language in Ireland due to centuries of English rule, as is the case in North America where indigenous languages have been replaced by that of the British colonists. In the process of removing the signs of their colonial past, anglicised names have been officially discouraged in many places: Ireland's Kingstown, named by King George IV, reverted to its original Irish name of Dún Laoghaire in 1920, even before Irish independence in 1922; India's Bombay is now Mumbai, even though this is not the oldest local name (see Toponymy of Mumbai) and "Bombay" is still commonly used in the city; Calcutta is now Kolkata and Madras is Chennai. Bangladesh's Dacca is Dhaka. Many Chinese endonyms have become de-anglicised or otherwise replaced with the more recent Hanyu Pinyin Romanization scheme: Canton is now more commonly called Guangzhou (廣州, 广州), and Peking is generally referred to as Beijing (北京), although this reflected a name change from Beiping (Peiping) to Beijing (Peking) with the de-anglicisation of the name taking place after the name change to reflect a pronunciation change in the newly established Beijing dialect-based Mandarin.

In Scotland, many place names in Scots Gaelic were anglicised, sometimes deliberately, sometimes accidentally because of unfamiliarity with Gaelic. Often the etymology of a place name is lost or obscured, such as in the case of Kingussie, from "Cinn a' Ghiuthsaich" (“The Heads of the Pine Forest”). In Wales, a large number of place names were anglicised, with some examples including: Caernarfon became Carnarvon, Conwy became Conway, Llanelli became Llanelly, Caerdydd became Cardiff. Many of these place names have since reverted, especially in the west of the country (as is the case for Llanelli, Caernarfon, Conwy and Porthmadog), though in the east Welsh and English spellings of place names are often seen side-by side even when very similar to each other, such as with Rhyl/Y Rhyl, or Blaenavon/Blaenafon.

In other cases, now well-established anglicised names, whatever their origin, have remained in common use where there is no national pride at stake. This is the case with Ghent (Gent, or Gand), Munich (München), Cologne (Köln), Vienna (Wien), Naples (Napoli), Rome (Roma), Milan (Milano), Athens (Αθήνα, Athina), Moscow (Москва, Moskva), Saint Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург, Sankt-Peterburg), Warsaw (Warszawa), Prague (Praha), Bucharest (Bucureşti), Belgrade (Београд, Beograd), Lisbon (Lisboa), and other European cities whose names have been familiar in their anglicised forms for centuries. However, the present local names sometimes appear as alternatives on maps, and in public places (airports, road signs).

Sometimes a place name might appear anglicised compared with the current name, but the form being used in English is actually an older name that has since been changed. For example, Turin in the Piedmont province of Italy was named Turin in the original Piedmontese language, but is now officially known as Torino in Italian.[7] The International Olympic Committee made the choice to regard the city officially as "Torino" throughout the 2006 Winter Olympics. The English and French name for Florence in Italy is closer to the original name in Latin (Florentia) than is the modern Italian name (Firenze).

Personal names

Historic names

In the past, the names of people from other language areas were anglicised to a higher extent than today. This was the general rule for names of Latin or (classical) Greek origin. Today, the anglicised name forms are often retained for the more well-known persons, like Aristotle for Aristoteles, and Adrian (or later Hadrian) for Hadrianus. However, less well-known persons from antiquity are now often given their full original-language name (in the nominative case, regardless of its case in the English sentence).

For royalty, the anglicisation of personal names was a general phenomenon, especially until recently, such as Charles for Carlos, Karoly, and Karl, or Frederic for Friedrich or Fredrik. Anglicisation of the Latin is still the rule for popes: Pope John Paul II instead of Ioannes Paulus II, Pope Benedict XVI instead of Benedictus XVI, Pope Francis instead of Franciscus.

The anglicisation of medieval Scottish names consists of changing them from a form consistent with Scottish Gaelic to the Scots language, which is an Anglo-Frisian language. For instance, the king known in Scottish Gaelic as Domnall mac Causantín (Domnall son of Causantín) is known in Scots as Donald, son of Constantine.

Immigrant names

During the time in which there were large influxes of immigrants from Europe to the United States and United Kingdom during the 19th and 20th centuries, the names of many immigrants were never changed by immigration officials,(as demonstrated in The Godfather Part II)[8] but only by personal choice.

French immigrants to the United States (of Huguenot or French Canadian background) often accommodated those unfamiliar with French pronunciations and spellings by altering their surnames in either of two ways: spellings were changed to fit the traditional pronunciation (Pariseau became Parizo, Boucher became Bushey, Mailloux became Mayhew), or pronunciations were changed to fit the spelling (Benoît, pronounced French pronunciation: ​[bənwa], became /bɛnˈɔɪt/ Benedict). In some cases, it could go either way (Gagné, pronounced French pronunciation: ​[ɡaɲe], became /ˈɡæɡni/ or Gonyea), or something only slightly similar; (Bourassa became Bersaw).

Most Irish names have been anglicised. An example is the surnames of many Irish families – for example, Ó Briain has often become O'Brien, Ó Rothláin became Rowland, Ó Néill became O'Neill, and some surnames may be shortened, like Ó Gallchobhair to just Gallagher. Likewise, native Scottish names were altered such as Somhairle to Sorley, Mac Gill-Eain to MacLean, and Mac Aoidh to MacKay. Many Welsh names have also been altered, such as "ap Hywell" to Powell, or "ap Siôn" to Jones.

German names of immigrants were also anglicised (such as Bürger to Burger, Schneider to Snyder) in the course of German immigration waves during times of political and economic instability in the late 19th and early 20th century. A somewhat different case was the politically motivated change of dynasty name in 1917 by the royal family of the United Kingdom from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the House of Windsor. Incidentally, Saxe-Coburg was already an anglicisation of the German original Sachsen-Coburg.

Many Bengali surnames have been anglicised. Banerjee, Chatterjee and Mukherjee are anglicised forms of Bandhopadhay, Chatophadhay and Mukhopadhay respectively.

The anglicisation of a personal name now usually depends on the preferences of the bearer. Name changes are less common today for Europeans emigrating to the United States than they are for people originating in East Asian countries (except for Japan, which no longer has large-scale emigration). However, unless the spelling is changed, European immigrants put up with (and in due course accept) an anglicised pronunciation: "Lewinsky" will be so pronounced, unless the "w" becomes a "v", as in "Levi". "Głowacki" will be pronounced "Glowacki", even though in Polish pronunciation it is "Gwovatski". "Weinstein" is usually pronounced with different values for the two "-ein-" parts, (/ˈwaɪnstiːn/.


As is the case with place names and personal names, in some cases ethnic designations may be anglicised based on a term from a language other than that of the group described. For example, the names Germany (the country), German (the language), and Germans (the people) are minor modifications of the Latin designation (Germania), and not of the local names (Deutschland, Deutsch, Deutsche).

See also


  1. ^ A charterparty is a maritime contract between a shipowner and a charterer for the hire of a ship or yacht.
  2. ^ i.e. a "split paper", or a document written in duplicate so that each party retains half.
  3. ^ Earl and nobles would pay "homage" to the king.


  1. ^ English in Wales: diversity, conflict, and change - Page 19 Nikolas Coupland, Alan Richard Thomas - 1990 "'Anglicisation' is one of those myriad terms in general use which everyone understands and hardly anyone defines. It concerns the process by which non-English people become assimilated or bound into an ..."
  2. ^ The British World: Diaspora, Culture, and Identity - Page 89 Carl Bridge, Kent Fedorowich, Carl Bridge Kent Fedorowich - 2003 "Beyond gaps in our information about who or what was affected by anglicisation is the matter of understanding the process more fully in terms of agency, periodisation, and extent and limitations."
  3. ^ ”Between 1828 and 1834 the British set up a new court system in the [Cape] colony, replacing Dutch with English as the official language, despite the fact that the majority of the settlers only spoke Dutch.”
  4. ^ The Economist, 13 May 2017, page 53: "The ultimate concession is to give activists representation on the board in return for keeping schtum."
  5. ^ a b Hyde, Douglas (25 November 1892). "The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland". Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  6. ^ ""de-anglicisation", in Free Online Dictionary". Retrieved 2013-10-21. the elimination of English influence, language, customs, etc.
  7. ^ Owen, James (March 6, 2006). "From "Turin" to "Torino": Olympics Put New Name on the Map". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 12 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  8. ^ Messenger, Chris (2002). The Godfather and American Culture: How the Corleones Became "Our Gang". State University of New York Press. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
    • a "...arrives at Ellis Island in 1901 (film version) and accepts the change of his name to "Corleone..." — pg. 214, ¶ 2.
Anglicisation of names

The anglicisation of personal names is the change of non-English-language personal names to spellings nearer English sounds, or substitution of equivalent or similar English personal names in the place of non-English personal names.

Asp (reptile)

"Asp" is the modern Anglicisation of the word "aspis," which in antiquity referred to any one of several venomous snake species found in the Nile region. The specific epithet, aspis, is a Greek word that means "viper." It is believed that aspis referred in Egyptian mythology to what is now known as the Egyptian cobra.


Bradley is an English surname derived from a place name meaning "broad wood" or "broad meadow" in Old English.Like many English surnames Bradley can also be used as a given name and as such has become popular.

It is also an Anglicisation of the Irish Gaelic name O’Brolachán (also O’Brallaghan) from County Tyrone in Ireland. The family moved and spread to counties Londonderry, Donegal and Cork, and England.


Brieux (French pronunciation: ​[bʁjø]) is a commune in the Orne department in northwestern France. The town gave its name to the ancestors of Robert the Bruce, Bruce being the Anglicisation of "Brieux".

Bunnahabhain distillery

The Bunnahabhain Distillery (Scottish Gaelic: Taigh-staile Bun na h-Abhainne, [t̪əˈs̪t̪alə punəˈhavɪɲ]) was founded in 1881 near Port Askaig on Islay. The village of Bunnahabhain was founded to house its workers. The distillery is owned by Distell.The Bunnahabhain is one of the milder single malt Islay whiskies available and its taste varies greatly from other spirits to be found on the island of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland.

The name Bunnahabhain is an anglicisation of Bun na h-Abhainne, Scottish Gaelic for Mouth of the River.


Feaver is a surname. It is an English surname of Norman French origin, and is an anglicisation of Lefebvre, meaning "smith". Notable people with the surname include:

Douglas Feaver (1914–97), Anglican bishop

John Feaver (born 1952), British tennis player

Peter Feaver, American professor of political science

Samuel Russell Feaver (1878–1946), New Zealand farmer, pharmacist, veterinary surgeon and photographer

Vicki Feaver (born 1943), English poet


Gillygooly is a small village and townland west of Omagh in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. In the 2001 Census it had a population of 72 people. It lies within the Omagh District Council area. The earliest reference to the townland of Gillygooly is the anglicisation Killagauland from c1655, which may be from Irish: Coill na Gualann, meaning "wood of the hill-shoulder".


Keenan (Cianán) is a male Irish name which means "ancient, distant". Keenan is an Anglicisation of the Irish name Cianán which is a diminutive of Cian. The Ó Cianáin clan (Keenan) were the traditional historians to the McGuire clan.

Lagavulin distillery

Lagavulin distillery is a malt whisky distillery in the village of Lagavulin on the south of the island of Islay, Scotland. It distils spirit that is destined to become Islay single malt Scotch whisky.

Lagavulin is owned by Diageo PLC, the company formed by the merger of United Distillers & Vintners and Guinness. It was previously marketed under the Classic Malts range of single malts, which is now defunct.

The standard bottling is a 16-year-old, bottled at 43% ABV. They also bottle a Distiller's edition, finished in Pedro Ximénez Sherry casks. Alongside these, they regularly release a 12-year-old cask strength version and various older and rarer expressions.

The name Lagavulin is an anglicisation of Lag a' Mhuilinn, the Scottish Gaelic for hollow of the mill.

List of Scottish Gaelic given names

This list of Scottish Gaelic given names shows Scottish Gaelic given names beside their English language equivalent. In some cases, the equivalent can be a cognate, in other cases it may be an Anglicised spelling derived from the Gaelic name, or in other cases it can be an etymologically unrelated name.


Neil is a masculine given name of Gaelic origin. The name is an Anglicisation of the Irish Niall which is of disputed derivation. The Irish name may be derived from words meaning "cloud", "passionate", or "champion". As a surname, Neil is traced back to Niall of the Nine Hostages who was an Irish king and eponymous ancestor of the Uí Néill and MacNeil kindred. Most authorities cite the meaning of Neil in the context of a surname as meaning champion.


Petruchio (an anglicisation of the Italian name Petruccio; Italian pronunciation: [peˈtruttʃo]) is the male protagonist in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew (c. 1590–1594). Petruchio is a fortune seeker who enters into a marriage with a strong-willed young woman named Kate and then proceeds to "tame" her temperamental spirit. The role has attracted notable performers.


In the contemporary English language, the nouns Polack ( and ) or Polak are ethnic slurs and derogatory references to a person of Polish descent. It is an Anglicisation of the Polish masculine noun Polak, which denotes a Polish male or a person of Polish ethnicity and unspecified gender. However, the English loanword is considered now an ethnic slur and therefore considered insulting in nearly all contemporary usages.


Pádraig (Irish: [ˈpˠaːd̪ˠɾˠəɟ]), Pádraic (Irish: [ˈpˠaːd̪ˠɾˠəc]) or Páraic (Irish: [ˈpˠaːɾˠəc]) is an Irish male name deriving from the Latin Patricius, meaning "of the patrician class", introduced via the name of Saint Patrick. Patrick is the English version, via Old French.

Diminutives include Páidín (Anglicised as "Podge" and "Paddy"); the latter Anglicisation is often used, sometimes pejoratively, as a term for Irish people as a whole.

Slogan (heraldry)

A slogan is used in Scottish heraldry as a heraldic motto or a secondary motto. It usually appears above the crest on a coat of arms, though sometimes it appears as a secondary motto beneath the shield. The word slogan dates from 1513, though it is a variant of the earlier slogorn, which was an Anglicisation of the Scottish Gaelic sluagh-ghairm.


Straide (Irish: An tSráid), or Strade, is a village in County Mayo, Ireland. It is located on the N58 national secondary road between Foxford and Castlebar. The name Strade is an anglicisation of the Irish words an tsráid, meaning the street.

Straide Abbey has some interesting carved reliefs on its ruined walls.

George Moore (1727-1799), who founded the famous Moore Hall estate at Lough Carra, came from Ashbrook House near Strade.

A museum in the village records the story of Michael Davitt who was born in Strade, and how he and Charles Stewart Parnell formed the Land League at the end of the nineteenth century to abolish landlordism in Ireland and enable tenant farmers to own the land on which they worked.


Streamstown (Irish: Baile an tSrutháin) is a town in County Westmeath, Ireland. It is close to the large town of Mullingar. Streamstown was historically called Ballintruhan, which is an anglicisation of its Irish name.A horse named Streamstown competed in the 2002 Grand National Steeplechase, finishing in ninth place.

Streamstown railway station opened on 1 August 1851 and finally closed on 17 June 1963. Midland Great Western Railway from Athlone to Mullingar formed part of the main route between Dublin, County Galway and County Mayo until 1987, when Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) closed the line and severing the rail link between Athlone and Mullingar. This section of rail line has since been developed into the Athlone to Mullingar Cycleway, which opened in October 2015.

Streamstown has a fox hunting club called the Streamstown Harriers, affiliated with the Irish Masters of Harriers Association.


Tonlegee (from Irish: Tóin le Gaoith meaning Bottom of the Hill facing the Wind) is a townland in the civil parish of Templeport, County Cavan, Ireland. It lies in the Roman Catholic parish of Corlough and barony of Tullyhaw. The townland was also called Clonmeoun, probably an Anglicisation of the Gaelic 'Cluain Mín' meaning The Smooth Meadow.


A virtuoso (from Italian virtuoso [virˈtwoːzo] or [virtuˈoːso], "virtuous", Late Latin virtuosus, Latin virtus, "virtue", "excellence" or "skill") is an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability in a particular art or field such as fine arts, music, singing, playing a musical instrument, or composition. This word also refers to a person who has cultivated appreciation of artistic excellence, either as a connoisseur or collector. The plural form of virtuoso is either virtuosi or the Anglicisation, virtuosos, and the feminine forms are virtuosa and virtuose.

According to Music in the Western civilization by Piero Weiss and Richard Taruskin:

...a virtuoso was, originally, a highly accomplished musician, but by the nineteenth century the term had become restricted to performers, both vocal and instrumental, whose technical accomplishments were so pronounced as to dazzle the public.

The defining element of virtuosity is the performance ability of the musician in question, who is capable of displaying feats of skill well above the average performer.

Especially in music, both critics and musicians have mixed opinions on virtuosity. While the skill implied is clearly positive, musicians focused on virtuosity have been criticized for overlooking substance and emotion in favor of raw technical prowess.More commonly applied in the context of the fine arts, the term can also refer to a "master" or "ace" who excels technically within any particular field or area of human knowledge—anyone especially or dazzlingly skilled at what they do. For instance, Ken Jennings's initial success on Jeopardy! was described as a "virtuoso performance."

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