My understanding is that Esperanto's vocabulary relies primarily on Indo-European languages. Here are a few of the major families within that group:

  • Italic (including Latin, Romance)
  • Germanic (German, Dutch, Norwegian, etc.)
  • Balto-Slavic (Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, etc.)
  • Hellenic (Greek)

At a high level, do we have estimates of the percentage of Esperanto vocabulary that comes from each of these families? What percentage comes from non-IE languages?

Ideally I'd like to know about modern Esperanto's vocabulary, not just what Zamenhof used.

  • 2
    Just a small note on the names. The language family is called Latin or Romance not Italic, and Baltic languages are a separate family to Slavic languages. I don't know the exact figures but the majority of words come from Latin languages and very few from Slavic languages. Aug 23, 2016 at 17:21
  • 1
    Italic is not in common use in linguistics for contemporary languages, as it includes extinct languages spoken in the Italic region. Nowadays the usual term would be Romance languages, which includes Spanish, Italian, French, Romanian, etc. Aug 23, 2016 at 17:37
  • 3
    But Italic is correct in this case, even if it is less common, because Classical Latin is not descended from Vulgar Latin, so it's not included in the Romance languages, but it is included in the Italic languages.
    – Max
    Aug 24, 2016 at 15:29

4 Answers 4


I can quote a translation of the book “Que sais-je ? : L'Espéranto” [What do I know? : Esperanto] by Pierre Janton:

More than 75% of the lexemes are taken from Latin languages, in particular from Latin and French, and 20% from the Anglo-germanic languages, the remaining include loan-words from Greek, above all scientific ones, Slavic languages and, for a very small proportion from Hebrew (amen), Arabic (alkazabo) and Japanese (anzuo), etc.

The book was published in 1973, but in comparison to Zamenhof's language that is still fairly modern.


Here are some statistics I made, based on 3983 words in Andras Rajki's Etymological Dictionary of the Esperanto Language. Note that the percentages don't sum to 100%, as there are many words that might have come from several different languages.

perc.  num. lang.
59.50% 2370 French
53.65% 2137 English
50.34% 2005 Italian
40.42% 1610 German
34.37% 1369 Latin
32.06% 1277 Russian
31.03% 1236 Lithuanian
21.22%  845 Polish
 7.16%  285 Yiddish

However, I wouldn't rely on it too much. I can see that many clearly related Polish words are missing. I suspect that the position of Polish is similar to that of Russian and Lithuanian. I'm not sure about other languages.

After grouping the languages the way you want, the results are as follows:

perc.  num. lang.
80.69% 3214 French+Italian+Latin
65.43% 2606 English+German+Yiddish
37.79% 1505 Russian+Lithuanian+Polish
  • Not sure why this isn't the accepted answer to this question, given that you've provided actual measurable statistics, whereas the accepted answer quotes someone else who makes a back-of-the-napkin estimate.
    – Lou
    Sep 18, 2020 at 14:48

In a Master thesis on Eo morphology, Jiri Hana (1998) states that About 70% of Esperanto vocabulary come from Romance languages, about 20% from Germanic languages and English and some part from Slavic languages. He does not give any specific reference for this, though.


84% from Latin languages, 14% Germanic based, 2% Slavic and Greek. This is according to an etymology estimate from 1987 (as quoted in Lindsay Dow's video).

As an aside, in informal speech, people do use words from their native languages and "esperantize" them, so there are some words that aren't widespread and not official, but that can be heard from time to time.

These two works probably answer this question, but I don't have access to them at the moment:

Vilborg, Ebbe, Etimologia Vortaro de Esperanto. Five volumes, Stokholmo, 1987–2001.
Cherpillod, André, Konciza Etimologia Vortaro. One volume, Roterdamo, 2003.

The video: Lindsay Dow, Lindsay does languages, 2016, accessed 2016-08-24

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