6 English words with Hungarian origin which you use every day

When traveling I love to entertain my company with interesting facts about Hungary. It's because people, unless addicted to Hungary, do not know much about this tiny country. And its nice to surprise them or make them freak out. So I collected 6 commonly used English words that, according to the legend, has Hungarian origin. Which is the most surprising for you?


From Hungarian "kocsi", a horse‐drawn wagon with springs above the axles, which later spread across Europe. Named after the Hungarian village of Kocs (pronounced "kotch"), which was a post town, resting point on the road between Vienna and Buda in the 15th century onwards.

Therefore English word coach, Spanish and Portuguese coche, the German Kutsche, and the Slovak and Czech koč, kočár, Italian coccio, Polish kocz, Slovak koč, kočiar, Ukrainian коч, Serbian кочије, Slovenian kočíja, Sweedish kusk all probably derive from the Hungarian word "kocsi", literally meaning "of Kocs".


One of my Bolivian friends was fanatic about food. In La Paz we sat in a restaurant and we started to talk about our favorite foods. He said that his favorite one was an Austrian dish, the "goulash". Awww! I explained him that goulash is Hungarian. He hardly believed me, but hereby is the evidence.

From "gulyás", a type of Hungarian soup dish made of beef. The word "gulyás" means 'herdsman' dealing with cows, as the noun "gulya" is the Hungarian word for cow herd.
Hope that he believes me now! :)

Comes from the Hungarian "ici-pici" (tiny), with the same meaning.


Biro is used to refer to ballpoint pens in general, and got the name from its inventor, László Bíró. The Hungarian word "bíró" means judge.


This is the word that almost nobody believes that it comes from Hungarian. So here is what the Hungarian folklore says:

The Hungarian Tivadar Puskás invented the telephone exchange in the 1870s. When hearing the voice of the person at the other end of the line, the telephone ladies (hallo-girls) shouted "hallom!" (in Hungarian it means 'I hear you!'), indicating that the line was working.
Later "hallom" was shortened to Hallo, then Hello.


From "Bakony", which is a hilly region of Hungary, where the 'Bakony porks' were breeded and later on transferred to England where the word 'bacon' spread over.

What other word do you know with Hungarian origin? :)

If you would like to find out about Ten Common English Words of Dutch Origin, check out Bram's post on Travel. Experience. Live.!

About Tiny Girl With Big Bag

Hobby writer and autodidact photographer whose passion is to travel and get to know new people and cultures. She has been on 4 continents and 30 countries, and the outcome is this travel blog where she shares travel stories, thoughts, tips and photography always through a subjective eye.

Follow her @ Twitter | Facebook | Google+


  1. That's a great post! I wonder if there are any Lithuanian words that got into English. I wasn't sure until I read your post but I feel I might check :-)

    1. I would love to know if you find Lithuanian words used in the English language! :) I am wondering about the roots of the Lithuanian language. Maybe you know the answer :)

  2. I love this post! This really makes me want to check if there are any Dutch (my native language) words that are being used in English. I already know one though: cookie!

    1. Thanks Bram! :) I am so much fond of etymology, and you taught me a new thing now. So the word 'cookie' really comes from Dutch?? Did not know that one. Let me know if you find other words, too :)

  3. Szia!

    Senki nem hiszi el mert nem igaz. :-) The expression 'halloa' existed in English long before the telephone exchange. It was originally an expression of surprise but evolved into a greeting. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Magyar, 'hallom', which is just a Hungarian urban myth. Sajnálom de ez igaz.

    1. Oh, ezek szerint megdolt egy magyar mitosz.. koszonom, hogy megosztottad :)