Esperanto is based on Romance, Germanic, and Slavonic languages; all of them are branches of Indo-European languages.

Are there words in Esperanto that come from other language families? What are examples of them?

6 Answers 6


There are of course lots of words in Esperanto that originate in a non-Indo-European language, but that have become internationally used words. Some examples are faraono ('pharao'), tabuo ('taboo') and haŝiŝo ('hashish').

The only Esperanto word that I know about that is non-Indo-European and not widely used in European languages is zorio (flip-flop).


Esperanto has many international words that originally come from non-Indo-European languages, but that had already been adopted in European languages when they were borrowed by Esperanto. Here I will try to make a list of all the words that seem to be directly borrowed from non-Indo-European languages.

  • The Esperanto word for "reindeer" is boaco, and it comes from the Sami word boazu. Sami belongs to the Uralic language family, which also contains, among others, Finnish and Hungarian.

  • Kikaro means "talent" (the unit of weight, used in the Bible) and comes from the Hebrew word כיכר kikár.

  • Another word has already been mentioned: zorio "flip-flops" (from Japanese).

  • Ŭonbulismo (sometimes also spelt vonbulismo), "Won Buddhism", seems to be directly borrowed from Korean 원불교 [ŭonbulgjo]. If it had come to Esperanto through Western languages, it would be spelt "ŭonbudhismo".

  • The name Kartvelio (also spelt Kartvelujo), "Georgia" (the country), is borrowed directly from Georgian, and not from Indo-European languages, where it's spelt like something similar to "Georgia" or "Gruzja".

  • Haŝio "chopstick" probably comes directly from Japanese 箸 hashi. But note that this name is not completely unknown in Western languages, so it may be hard to trace whether it was borrowed directly.

  • The origin of jen is unclear: it may either come from Indo-European Latin or from non-Indo-European Hebrew.

  • Barato (or Bharato), "India", comes from the Hindi name of the country, भारत ‎(bhārat). Hindi is an Indo-European language, but is not a typical source for Esperanto words. I don't know of any European languages that call India "Bharat".

  • Kimrujo ("Wales") comes from the Welsh name of the country, Cymru. Welsh is Indo-European, too.

Edit 1: Removed tohuvabohuo from the list, as it wasn't directly borrowed from Hebrew. Rimbaud used this word in French in 1871.

Edit 2: Added Bharato and Kimrujo.


Yes, there are words derived from other languages, for example:

  • 1
    The word "vikio" ("wiki") is also derived from Hawaiian, but of yourse through English. But then, the other words you mentioned were also derived through European languages, and not directly from non-European languages. Aug 29, 2016 at 16:22

I would like to add lirli ”to purl, to make the noise of a small stream”: La rivereto lirlis apud la domo. The word comes from Finnish liristä and is sometimes used in literary language. :-)

Some Esperantists also like to ”go native” when talking about languages and peoples, for example by saying suoma (from Finnish Suomi) instead of finna for ”Finnish”. This word is not so common, though.

On the other hand, the most widespread word for ”Basque” (language or ethnicity) seems to be eŭska. It comes directly from Basque euskara, unlike the synonym vaska, which first passed through Spanish (vasco). :-)


Here are two words tracing back to Ancient Egyptian (but they were transmitted via Greek/Latin/Modern European languages): oazo and faraono.

Trying to get at some Hebrew words is rather difficult; except for the Modern Hebrew word kibuco I wasn't able to track down clear candidates. The word jen can be added with some stretch.

  • 4
    If I recall correctly, "tohuvabohuo" is derived from the Hebrew phrase "tohu va bohu" ("formless and void"), and means "complete and utter chaos".
    – kristan
    Aug 30, 2016 at 3:35

The word edzo is believed to have been made up completely by Zamenhof, rather than borrowed from some other language.

  • 1
    According to Wikipedia it either comes from German or from Yiddish (which is an Indo-European language, too).
    – miĥaŭ
    Oct 19, 2016 at 22:29
  • @michau: thank you; that's quite convincing.
    – Max
    Oct 20, 2016 at 5:13

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