World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

False cognate

Article Id: WHEBN0000011676
Reproduction Date:

Title: False cognate  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: False friend, Translation, False friends, Hindu saints, False etymology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

False cognate

False cognates are pairs of words that seem to be cognates because of similar sounds and meaning, but actually have different etymologies; these word pairs can be within the same language or be from different ones.[1] This is different from false friends, which may in fact be related but have different meanings. Even though false cognates lack a common root, there may still be an indirect connection between them (for example through phono-semantic matching or folk etymology).

As an example of false cognates, the Spanish words mucho and haber mean roughly the same as and look similar to the English words much and have, but are in fact unrelated.


The term "false cognate" is sometimes misused to refer to false friends, but the two phenomena are distinct.[1][2] False friends occur when two words in different languages or dialects look similar, but have different meanings. While some false friends are also false cognates, many are genuine cognates (see False friends § Causes).[2] For example, English pretend and French prétendre are false friends, but not false cognates, as they have the same origin.[3]) A related phenomenon is the expressive loan, which looks like a native construction, but is not.

"Mama and papa" type

The basic kinship terms mama and the word for "mother" is deda.


See also


  1. ^ from Latin focus
  2. ^ from Proto-Germanic *fūri


  1. ^ a b Moss (1992), p. ?.
  2. ^ a b Chamizo-Domínguez (2008), p. 166.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d e f Lyle Campbell, Historical Linguistics: An Introduction, 3rd edition, p. 350
  6. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, Second edition.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Lyle Campbell, Historical Linguistics: An Introduction, 3rd edition, p. 355
  9. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
  10. ^ LIV s. v. *sleh₂gʷ-, *lembʰ-
  11. ^

Further reading

  • Geoff Parkes and Alan Cornell (1992), 'NTC's Dictionary of German False Cognates', National Textbook Company, NTC Publishing Group.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.