10 Amazing Old Vietnamese Words That’ll Blow Your Mind!

Oh, language and its unique soul easily entices you to dig deeper into its roots. Just like a river, this constantly changes over time. If you’ve been studying the Vietnamese language, have you ever wondered about the ancient streams that lead to the interesting collection of old Vietnamese words?

Did you know that Vietnamese is a really beautiful and tonal language? It has a long history that goes back thousands of years. This lexicon’s history has voyaged several centuries, and over time, its words and phrases have evolved and adapted to the modern world.

However, archaic Vietnamese words have a way of transporting their learners back in time. It’s like a time machine that tells stories about the country’s history and culture. From epic battles to passionate romances, tales of bustling trade, and delicate negotiations, they know how to bring the past to life. Come on board as we launch into a trip back in time and discover these old Vietnamese words.

Old Vietnamese Words (History)- Ling App

Quick History About The Vietnamese Language

Let’s give you a sneak peek of the things that you need to know about the origins of the Vietnamese language. Firstly, it belonged to the Austroasiatic family and was related to Khmer in Cambodia. Now you may think that this would be the first and last chapter of their roots— well, not exactly.

If you speak Mandarin, you’d probably find similarities between these two languages. You see, Vietnam was colonized by Chine for a thousand years, giving them enough time to engrave words in their daily lives. They were also later subjected to the power of France, which cost them another 60 years. With the whirlwind history of this language, you probably figured out why these old Vietnamese words are related to these lexicons— especially in the Chinese language.

Interesting Vocabulary List Of Old Vietnamese Words

1. Second/ Two – Nhị

Here we have nhị to start enriching your old Vietnamese vocabulary. If you take a quick trip back to the classics, this word has a poetic significance, and it also comes with a formal connotation. This word translates to “Second” or “The second one” in English. While in ancient literature, this may also mean a sense of hierarchy. Another fun fact is that this word existed because of the influence of the Chinese language. However, in modern Vietnamese, “Two” is now known as “Hai.”

Old Vietnamese Words (Miss/Missus)- Ling App

2. Lady – Thị

Want to know how ancient Vietnamese addressed women back in the old days? Well, this three-letter word means “Lady” or “Miss,” which is used before the female subject’s name. It’s quite identical to the Western culture’s “Miss” or “Missus.” Moreover, back then, the Vietnamese society, one’s name carries significant weight. So, this prefix didn’t just serve as an identifier but also symbolized their family, social standing, gender, and more.

3. Mansio – Phủ

China has colonized Vietnam for years, and it’s not a surprise that the country had significant influence over Vietnam’s official language. While there may be traces in its modern version, there were also words that are barely used today, and that is Phủ. This was one of the many old words borrowed from Chinese words that pertain to the residence of an official. Moreover, it also came from the Chinese character 府, which signifies a mansion.

4. Deity/God – Thần

Did you know that today gods are called các vị thần? But before they used this Vietnamese word, they first had thần, which also referred to a deity or god. With a diverse cultural background, including animism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, Vietnam was home to a wide variety of gods and spirits.

Old Vietnamese Words (Respect)- Ling App

5. Respect – Kính

One of the oldest words in the Vietnamese culture that’s still used today is Kính. This is a native Vietnamese word that translates to respect. It pertains to respecting elders, authorities, and societal norms. While you may also find Vietnamese speakers using it in formal letters and conversations. Additionally, it’s connected to one of the Sino-Vietnamese words, and it was from a Chinese script (Jing) which also meant the same thing.

6. Peace – Bình

The confusing word has finally arrived on this list of old Vietnamese words. Back in archaic times, Vietnamese people used this word in different contexts. It’s often associated with the English words “Jar,” “Peace,” and “Level.” While it’s also associated with the Chinese character 平 (Jing), which aligns with the Vietnamese meaning perfectly.

7. Path – Đạo

As we’ve said, Vietnamese adopted plenty of Chinese words. So, let me introduce “Đạo,” this stems from the Chinese character “道” (dào), which means “Path” or “Way.” It’s typically rooted in the religious end of Taoism, as these simple English words are associated with the phrase “Way of life.” In other words, this old word is significant in the philosophical and religious views of the Vietnamese population.

Old Vietnamese Words (Jade)- Ling App

8. Gem – Ngọc

Do you know anyone who is named Ngọc? Well, their name holds a lot of value even in contemporary and classical times in Vietnam. This word directly means “Jade” or “Gem,” while these items may signify purity, novelty, and perfection, which makes it a perfect name. It originated from the Chinese script 玉 (Yu), which also had the same meaning.

9. Grace – Thúy

If you’re looking for another word to pair with the previous word, then this is the perfect word to spice up that feminine name. Thúy is a classic word that signifies elegance and grace. Its meaning simply revolves around the context of refined beauty and femineity.

10. Salary – Lương

Do you find yourself needing compensation monetary compensation for something you did? It’s a word that is still utilized today— it means salary in the English language. Aside from playing a role in the currency of people, it’s also used as a surname in Vietnamese culture. Nonetheless, this is one of the many native Vietnamese words that shows the concept of getting our wages from our jobs.

Want More Vietnamese Related Content? Try Ling Today!

Many languages have rich origins, their unique writing systems and regional dialects can easily get learners’ attention. If the Vietnamese language ever enticed you to uncover more about this lexicon, then why not start today? There are more things to unveil aside from these old Vietnamese words— you’d figure this out once you start learning Vietnamese. Don’t know where to start? Try Ling today!

With the app, you can easily learn the Vietnamese writing system, unlock new vocabulary lists, and other parts of the language that’ll help you attain fluency. While if you’re also interested in other languages, you can pick from the 60+ languages offered in the app. There are also a variety of quizzes, practice tests, and games that enhance your learning journey. Download Ling today on Play Store and App Store for FREE to enjoy these benefits!

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