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Loanwords In Thai: 80+ Amazing Guide To Learn Now!

August 30, 2022

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Have you ever heard Thai people use words that sounded exactly like what you knew in another language? That might be foreign loanwords in Thai.

Tinglish refers to the English spoken by Thai people with their native accents. Thai people regularly use English vocabulary, especially technical terms, in their own language such as computer (kom-pew-TER).

We bet that you will never see a single Thai individual in your everyday life using the word "คณิตกร," pronounced as "ká nít gɔɔn," which refers to a computer, for example. Many Thai terms, however, have been taken from other languages, including not just English but also Sanskrit, Chinese, Portuguese, and more.

You might be surprised to learn that the Thai words you've been using aren't truly native Thai words as we talk about the use of foreign borrowed words in everyday Thai conversation today.

English Loanwords In Thai Conversation

It's to be expected that English would have an impact on and be incorporated into languages throughout the world, including Thai. However, the Thai people are generally open to diverse perspectives, so foreigners have had a major impact on their cuisine, fashion, and vocabulary.

You'll hear the following English borrowed words in everyday Thai conversation. Let's check them out!

Thai WordPronunciationEnglish Definition
บัสbátbus
ไวโอลินwai-o-linviolin
อพาร์ทเมนต์a-pháat-ménapartment
เคาน์เตอร์kháu-toêcounter, desk
คอมพิวเตอร์khom-phiw-tôecomputer
ราสเบอร์รี่ráat-ber-rîiraspberry
เซ็กซ์séksex
แท็กซี่táek-sîitaxi
ทีวีthii-wiitelevision
ยีราฟyii-ráapgiraffe

Sanskrit Loanwords In Thai Daily Conversation

Sanskrit Loanwords In Thai

Scripts used by southern Buddhists like Khmers and Thais all have their roots in India, namely in the ancient Indian alphabet Brahmi. Since Buddhist literature was originally written in Sanskrit, this ancient Indian language significantly impacted Thai, as seen in the many Sanskrit loanwords found in contemporary Thai. More than half of its lexicon is a direct or indirect descendant of Sanskrit.

There is no conclusive count of the number of loanwords from Sanskrit to Thai, so first, look at some words commonly used in casual conversation and see how much the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit has inspired modern Thai.

Thai WordThai PronunciationSanskrit WordSanskrit PronunciationEnglish Definition
อักษรàk-sǒrnअक्षरakṣaraalphabet
ภาษาphaa-săभाषाbhāṣālanguage
ภัยphaiभयbhayadanger
ครูkruuगुरुguruteacher
มหาma-hăaमहाmahāgreat
มนุษย์ma-nútमनुष्यmanuṣyahuman being
นรกna-rókनरकnarakahell
ราชาraa-chaaराजाrājāking
รสrótरसrasataste
รูปrûpरूपrūpapicture
ศัตรูsàt-truuशत्रुśatruenemy
สวรรค์sa-wănस्वर्गsvargaheaven
สุขsùkसुखsukhahappiness
ประถมpra-thǒmप्रथमprathamaprimary
ประเทศpra-thêetप्रदेशpradeśacountry
นครná-khornनगरnagaracity
ชัยchaiजयjayavictory
ภูมิphuumभूमिbhūmisoil
วาจาwaa-jaaवाचाvācāwords
ภาวะphaa-wáभावbhāvacondition
กษัตริย์ka-sàtक्षत्रियkṣatriyaking
วิจารณ์wí-jaanविचार्णvicārnareview
พายุphaa-yúवायुvāyustorm
สัตว์sàtसत्वsatvaanimal
วิหารwí-hǎanविहारvihāratemple
เวลาwee-laaवेलाvelātime
อาสาaa-sǎaअभिलाषashavolunteer
กระดาษkra-dàatकागदkagadapaper
อากาศaa-kàatआकाशākāśaair
เทศthêetदेशdeśaoutlandish
ทุกข์thúkदुःखduḥkhasuffering
โทษthôotदोषdoṣablame
จิตรjitचित्रcitradesign
ทุนthunधनdhanafund
จันทร์janचन्द्रchandramoon
จักรวาลjàk-kra-waanचक्रवालchakravalauniverse
คุณkhunगुणghunayou, useful
อาคารaa-khaanआगारāgārabuilding
ปราสาทpraa-sàatप्रासादprāsādacastle
นามnaamनामnamaname
ชีวาchii-waaजीवjīvaliving
กรุณาka-ru-naaकरुणkaruṇaplease, comparison
พิเศษphí-sèetविशेषviśeṣaspecial
หิมะhì-máहिमhimasnow
เมฆmêekमेघmeghacloud
วิทยาwít-tha-yaaविद्याvidyāknowledge, science
สัปดาห์sàp-daaसप्ताहsaptāhaweek
บริษัทbor-ri-sàtपरिषद्pariṣadcompany
สมาคมsa-maa-khomसमागमsamāgamaassociation
ชีวิตchii-wítजीवितjīvitalife
อาหารaa-hǎanआहारāhārafood

Sanskrit Loanwords In Thai Written Or Formal Conversation

Sanskrit Loanwords In Thai

We've already shown the use of Sanskrit loanwords in daily Thai; now, we'll introduce you to a few others you might not know; even native Thai speakers don't use them frequently. However, you may see these words on the Thai news or in Thai period drama titles.

Thai WordThai PronunciationSanskrit WordSanskrit PronunciationEnglish Definition
ตรีศูลtrii-sǔunत्रिशूलtriśūlatrident
พุทธิphút-thíबुद्धिbuddhiintelligence
เภตราphee-traaवहित्रvahitraboat
พินาศphí-nâatविनाशvināśadestruction
ภักดีphák-diiभक्तिbhaktiloyal
คชาkha-chaaगजgajaelephant
สิงห์sĭngसिंहsinghalion
เทวีthee-wiiदेवीdevīGoddess
ทีฆายุthii-khaa-yúदीर्घायुdīrghāyulong live
อุดรù-dornउत्तरuttaranorth
สมบูรณ์sŏm-buunसंपूर्णsampūrṇacomplete, perfect
สตรีsa-triiस्त्रीstrīwoman

Persian Loanwords In Thai Conversation

Here is an example of a Thai word borrowed from Persian.

Thai WordThai PronunciationPersian WordPersian PronunciationEnglish Definition
องุ่นa-ngùnانگورangurgrape

Chinese Loanwords In Thai Conversation

Chinese Loanwords In Thai

Several Chinese dialects have significantly impacted the development of Thai words. However, some terms stayed the same in pronunciation while others were modified.

The following table lists common Chinese loanwords in Thai and their corresponding Chinese pronunciations.

Thai WordThai PronunciationChinese WordChinese PronunciationEnglish Definition
ชาchāchátea
หนองnǒngnóngpus
อ่าวǎuàobay
อานannānsaddle
หมี่mìinoodles
เต้าหู้tâu-hûu豆腐tao-hu
(Chinese Hokkien dialect)
beancurd

Portuguese Loanwords In Thai Conversation

Here is an example of a Thai word borrowed from Portuguese.

Thai WordThai PronunciationPortuguese WordEnglish Definition
สบู่sa-bùuSabãosoap

Arabic Loanwords In Thai Conversation

Here is an example of a Thai word borrowed from Arabic

Thai WordThai PronunciationArabic WordArabic PronunciationEnglish Definition
มัสยิดmát-sa-yítمسجدmasjidmosque

Summary

Can you think of any other English terms that have been adopted into Thai? Many Thai words are borrowed from other languages, and knowing their origins might simplify learning Thai speech. There are more words than the ones we've shown you here. We hope that you'll be able to adopt the Thai pronunciation of loanwords as you immerse yourself in Thai culture. We are wishing you the best of luck!

Learn Thai With Ling Now!

learn loanwords in Thai with Ling

Do you want to expand your Thai vocabulary but don't know where to start? If so, you may be searching for the ideal application to help you do so. The top app is right here, with us!

The Ling App provides a vast amount of Thai vocabulary to study anywhere and anytime. You won't just study loanwords in Thai but also grammar hacks that you can start using immediately. In addition, the Thai language borrows many words from other languages; to master these borrowed words, you need just learn their meaning and change your pronunciation to match that of the original words. Ling then reveals an incredible chatbot that will help you become familiar with the local accent, making it easy to recognize loanwords in Thai.

Most Thai learners chose Ling to help them succeed, so why not join them? Download the Ling App from the Google PlayStore and Apple AppStore now, and prepare to be fluent in Thai soon!

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