GRAM’S Fun Pick – Voilà your audience with these 4 non-English words

I remember coming across a restaurant along Chun Tin Road named “Vis-à-vis” when mobile surfing was non-existent. It piqued my curiosity and I had to ask around what it means – face-to-face.


“What an apt name for a romantic restaurant," I thought.


From time to time, we come across these non-English or foreign words. These words are often printed in italics and now, finding their meanings is a breeze.


If it makes you wonder how such words had made it to the English dictionary, it is because they are used often, and dictionaries are updated to serve a living language.


Curious? Watch the YouTube video “How Do Words Get Added to the Dictionary” by BrainStuff – HowStuffWorks. (the link is shared at the end of the article)


In the meantime, here are four commonly used non-English words that had found their way into the English lexicon.


(1) Al fresco or Alfresco

Origin – Italian

[Pronounce it like: Al-fres-co]




What it means

Outdoors or out in the open.


How to use it

  • (In a restaurant) "We would like seats for four. Al fresco, please."

  • A bright and sunny day will make a perfect alfresco playdate for children.


(2) Déjà vu

Origin - French 

[Pronounce it like: Dae-jar-voo]




What it means

Having a familiar feeling that you experienced something similar before when you are actually experiencing it now.


How to use it

  • As our tour guide led us into the Sung Sot Cave in Halong Bay, I was taken aback by the déjà vu feeling as the scenery of the cave unfolded exactly like what I had in my mind.


(3) Carpe Diem

Origin - Latin 

[Pronounce it like: Kar-peh-dee-am]




What it means

Live for the moment! Seize the day and enjoy the present.


How to use it 

  • Taking my friends’ advice to live a life attuned to the belief of carpe diem, I bungee jumped and experienced what it meant to live for the moment. I would not be doing it again.


(4) Tête-à-tête

Origin - French

[Pronounce it like: tat-a-tat]




What it means

Engage in a private conversation between two people.


How to use it 

  • It made us feel uncomfortable when Roland ended spending most of his time in a Facebook tête-à-tête with God-knows-who during dinner.


Here is the YouTube video mentioned earlier about “How Do Words Get Added to the Dictionary”, by BrainStuff – HowStuffWorks.




We hope the article has been useful. Do give us a like and share if you like it!


~ Calligraphy by Sann Choo 

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