Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
List of false friends
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

List of false friends

See false cognate, false friend, list of words, list of reference tables

Examples of false friends between English and other languages
Non-English word Which resembles English But actually means

abbé (French) abbey priest or abbot

accuser (French) accuse acknowledge (accuser réception = acknowledge receipt), although it can also mean "accuse" in other cases

actual (Romanian)
actual (Spanish)
actueel (Dutch)
aktuala (Esperanto)
actuel (French)
aktuell (German)
attuale(Italian)
actual current

adepte (French)
adept (Romanian)
adepto (Spanish)
adept (proficient) follower

administré (French) administered citizen (as seen from an elected official; old-fashioned)
user of a public administration (old-fashioned)
may also mean "administered"

ado (French) ado (fuss) short for adolescent

advertencia (Spanish)
avertissement (French)
advertisement warning

affluent (French)
afluente (Spanish)
affluent (wealthy) tributary (of a river) [effluent]

After (German) after anus

agencé (French) agency laid out or arranged

agent (French)
agente (Spanish)
agent officer, police officer, agent

ail (French) ail (sicken) garlic

aimer (French) to aim to love or to like

aire (French) air area (mathematics)

alerte (French) alert agile, alert

also (German) also thus

allure (French) allure (the power to attract) speed, bearing; allure

alto (French) alto (singer) viola, alto (singer)

alto (Italian and Spanish) alto (singer) high; in Spanish it can also mean "stop!" (imperative)

ananas (French, Finnish, Italian and Romanian)
Ananas (German)
bananas pineapple

ânon (French) anon (short for anonymous) baby donkey

apologie (French)
apologie (Romanian)
apology praise, vindication

appoint (French) appoint (extra) contribution or help

apuntar (Spanish) appoint (to) aim; (to) note down; (to) button up

arc (French and Romanian) arc, ark bow (weapon), arc

arme (French)
arma (Spanish)
arm (body part) weapon

ask (Swedish) ask small box; ash (tree)

aß (German) ass ate

assortie (French) assorted matched, matching

assister (French) assist attend

atendi (Esperanto)
attendere (Italian)
attendre (French)
attend to wait for; to expect

bald (German) bald soon

barn (Swedish) barn child, children

beg (Manx) big little

bekommen (German) become obtain, receive, get (compare English "come by")
(Note: There is a joke to this in German: a German comes into a British restaurant and waits half an hour for his food. Finally, he asks the waiter:"When shall I become my steak?" "I should hope never, sir."

beraten (German) berate advise, discuss

bilion (Romanian)
bilione (Italian)
biljon (Swedish)
Billion (German)
billion (French) and (Norwegian)
billón (Spanish)
billion American 'trillion' (1012 or million million). The American English billion is in fact a false friend in German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish and means "Milliarde" (109 or thousand million)
Formerly did not apply to British English or where English was taught as a foreign language, but this is changing - see billion.

blesser (French) (to) bless (to) injure

bloc (Spanish)
Block (German)
block (Swedish)
block note pad

bond (French) bond leap, bound

brand (Swedish
Brand (German)
brand fire

bras (French) bra(ssiere)s arm (the body part)

brat (брат) (Russian) brat brother

brav (German)
bravo/a (Italian)
brave well-behaved

brushing (French) to brush a blow-dry (hairdresser's)

brutaal (Dutch) brutal bold

calzón / calzones (Spanish), calzone / calzoni (Italian, caleçon (French) calzone underwear (of course calzone comes from Italian, but in that language the main use of the word is for underwear)

canto (Latin, Italian and Spanish) canto I sing

car (French) car bus or coach; because

Car (German) car charter bus, motor coach

car (Romanian) car I carry

carácter (Spanish)
carattere (Italian)
caractère (French)
character temperament; can also mean "character" in the typographic meaning

casino (Italian) casino brothel

casualmente (Spanish) casually fortuitously

chair (French) chair flesh

chance (French) chance luck

chat (French) chat (conversation) cat

chef (French)
Chef (German)
chef boss (in French, occasionally means "cook" or "head cook")

coin (French) coin corner

compromiso (Spanish) compromise promise

constipado (Spanish) constipated someone who has a cold

corne (French)
corno (Italian)
cuerno (Spanish)
corn horn

crayon (French)
creion (Romanian)
crayon pencil (a wax crayon is crayon de cire in French)

culte (French)
culto (Spanish)
cult worship (as in lieu de culte = house of worship). In Spanish it can also mean "educated".

demandar (Spanish) to demand to sue

demander (French)
domandare (Italian)
to demand to ask or request

die (German) (to) die the [feminine and plural article; example: die Ehefrau (the wife), die Häuser (the houses)]

dick (German) dick (slang for the penis or a detective) also short for Richard, e.g. in idiom "every Tom, Dick and Harry" fat (adjective only), thick

diverse (Swedish and German) diverse various

diverso (Italian) diverse different

dag (דג) (Hebrew) dog fish

Dom (German) dome cathedral

dungo (Esperanto) dung employment
egg (Swedish) egg edge of a cutting tool, such as knife edge

ego (Latin) ego I

empirer (French) empire to become worse

angajat (Romanian)
engagerad (Swedish)
engaged considered or involved in something in Swedish; involved or employed in Romanian

embarazada (Spanish) embarrassed pregnant

entrée (French) entrée, main dish entrance, entry, or appetizer

etichetă (Romanian)
etichetta (Italian)
etiket (Dutch)
Etikett (German)
etiqueta (Spanish)
étiquette (French)
etiquette label (can also mean etiquette in French or Spanish, but is mostly used as label)

eventual (Romanian)
eventualmente (Spanish and Italian)
eventueel (Dutch)
eventuell (German and Swedish)
éventuellement (French)
eventually maybe, perhaps, possibly

éxito (Spanish) exit success

fabbrica (Italian)
fabrică (Romanian)
fábrica (Spanish)
fabriek (Dutch)
Fabrik (German)
fabrik (Swedish)
fabrika (Serbian)
fabrique (French)
fabric factory (compare 'fabricate') Possible origin due to large Victorian factories producing woven fabric.

facilidad (Spanish) facility ease

Fahrt (German)
Vaart (Dutch)
fart German: journey; speed; trip, excursion, voyage
Dutch: similar, but only used for ships

familiär (German) familiar familial

familiya (фамилия) (Russian) family surname

far (French) far far, a kind of dessert from [[Brittany]

far (Swedish) far father

fart (Swedish) fart speed

fart (Polish) fart luck

fast (German) fast nearly, almost

fast (Swedish) fast firm, steady (compare "steadfast")

fat (Swedish) fat (dinner) plate

fat (發) (Cantonese) fat to exhibit; to distribute; prosperity (used in conjunction with 財, as in gong hei fat choi)

fattoria (Italian) factory farm

file (Italian) file line; queue (in computing)

final (Romanian) finally (as in "at last") at the end (as in "finish")

flint (Swedish) flint bald head

foresto (Esperanto) forest absence

fort (French)
forte (Italian)
fort strong (but can also mean fort)

Gift (German)
Gif (Dutch)
gift poison

gift (Swedish) gift married, poison

glass (Swedish) glass icecream

Glut (German) glut heat; glow; embers

greippi (Finnish) grape grapefruit

gren (Swedish) green branch

grippe (French)
Grippe (German)
gripa / gripe (Spanish)
grip (hold) or gripe (complaint) influenza

groin (French) groin snout

grosería (Spanish) grocery profanity, bad word

gimnaziu (Romanian)
Gymnasium (German and Swedish)
gym(nasium) high(er) school, grammar school (see Secondary education)

Handy (German) handy mobile phone, cell phone ("Handy" is not really German, it is artificial (pseudo-English) from English and German "hand", but most Germans think that the word is English). It's a pseudo-anglicism.

he (היא) (Hebrew) he she

herb (German) herb harsh

Hose (German) hose (pair of) trousers/pants

hot (Swedish) hot threat

i (Latin) I go! (imperative)

is (Norwegian) is ice cream

is (Latin) is you go

is (Swedish is ice

Island (Swedish and German)
Islande (French)
island Iceland

it (Latin) it he/she/it goes

caution (French)
Kaution (German)
caution deposit, bail

kabinet (кабинет) (Russian) cabinet office

kedr (Кедр) (Russian) cedar Siberian Pine

kid (Swedish) kid fawn

killa (Swedish) kill, killer tickle, scratch

Kind (German) kind child

kind (Swedish) kind cheek

Kinn (German) kin chin

kontroll (Swedish)
kontrollieren (German)
control check, examine

korn (Swedish) corn barley

Kraft (German)
kraft (Swedish)
craft power, strength

kreatur (Swedish) creature cattle

Kritik (German) critic criticism, review

Last (German)
last (Swedish)
last load, burden

lime (French) lime file (the tool)

Limo (German) limo soft drink

limpa (Swedish) limp loaf (bread), carton of cigarette packages

List (German)
list (Swedish)
list cunning, artfulness, ruse

lump (Swedish) lump discarded fabric, slang for mandatory military service

magasin (French) magazin (магазин) (Russian) magazine store

main (French) main hand

mama (Georgian) mother father

me (Finnish) me we

me (麼) (Mandarin) me interrogative marker

merci (French) mercy thank you

mille (French)
Mille (German (slang))
million, mile thousand, mile

miséricorde (French)
misericordia (Italian)
misery mercy, forgiveness

Mist (German) mist manure, droppings

miting (Serbian) meeting political demonstration

Mode (German)
mode (Swedish)
mode fashion, haute couture

monnaie (French) money change (returned from a purchase); currency

Mörder (German) murder murderer

nai (ναι) (Greek) nay, no yes

Not (German) not need

Novelle (German)
novell (Swedish)
novela (Spanish)
novel short story

on (Serbian) on he

once (Spanish) once eleven

or (French) or gold, now (introducing second proposition of a syllogism)

ours (French) ours a bear

pain (French) pain bread

patetic (Romanian)
pathétique (French)
pathetic emotional (in French, can also mean pathetic)

pathetisch (German) pathetic solemn, lofty

pavimento (Italian) pavement floor

pétulant (French) petulant playful

pingouin (French) penguin auk

pom (Romanian) Pommie, Pom Fruit bearing tree

pomme (French) Pommie, Pom (see Alternate words for British) apple

pregnant (Romanian, Swedish)
prägnant (German)
pregnant short but informative; remarkable, prominent

prezervativ (Romanian)
Präservativ (German)
préservatif (French) (1)
preservative condom

prospect (Romanian)
Prospekt (German)
prospect brochure, leaflet, prospectus

prospekt (Swedish) prospect prospectus, document or brochure detailing an offer (usually from a travel agent)

prospekt (Russian) prospect avenue

proces (Romanian)
process (Swedish)
Prozess (German)
process trial (at court)/(in Swedish and German mainly used to denote process but also means trial)

queue (French) queue tail

Rat (German) rat advice; council; councilor (U.S.), councillor (Br.)

Rest (German)
rest (Swedish)
reste (French)
resto (Spanish and Italian)
rest remainder

restar (Spanish) (to) rest to subtract

rester (French)
restare (Italian)
(to) rest to stay; to remain

resumen (Spanish)
résumé (French)
resume summary

roman (French, Romanian and Swedish)
Roman (German)
Roman novel

saikou (Japanese) psycho the best

sale (French) sale dirty

sale (Italian) sale salt

sale (Spanish) sale goes out

salivit (Latin) salivate he/she/it jumped

secte (French)
Sekte (German)
secta (Spanish)
sect cult

Seite (German) site page

Sekt (German) sect champagne, sparkling wine

Sensation (German) sensation blowoff, scorcher

sensibel (German)
sensibile (Italian)
sensible (French and Spanish)
sensible sensitive

she (舌) (Mandarin) she tongue

sin (Swedish) sin "your own"

Sinn (German) sin sense, mind, meaning, acceptance, aesthesia, signification, tenor, appreciation

Smoking (German)
smoking (Swedish)
esmoquín Spanish)
smoking dinner jacket (Br.), tuxedo (U.S.); but not smoking jacket

son (Spanish) son (they) are; song

son (French) son sound; bran; his/her (masculine thing possessed)

soy (Spanish) soya, soybean (I) am

stark (German and Swedish) stark strong

step (Chumash) step flea

stor (Swedish) store big, large

stout (Dutch) stout naughty

strafen (German) strafe punish

sum (Latin) sum I am

simpatic (Romanian)
simpatico (Italian)
simpático (Spanish) sympathique (French)
sympathisch (German)
sympatisk (Swedish)
sympathetic likeable, friendly

teknologi (Swedish) technology technology as a discipline

to (Serbian) to (in writing) that

tu (Serbian) to (in reading) there

t'oi (台) (Hakka) toy tower

Unterstand (German) (to) understand shelter; dugout; bunker

vi (Serbian) we (in reading) you

wanken (German) (to) wank to sway; to succumb; to fall

war (German) war was

was (German) was what?

Webseite (German) web site web page

wer (German) where who

will (German)
vill (Swedish)
will I/he/she/it wants

vink (Swedish) wink hint, wave (salutation)

winken (German) wink to wave

wo (German) who, woe where

vrist (Swedish) wrist ankle

you (有) (Mandarin) you to have