Philippine Embassy Celebrates Filipino Loan Words in the Oxford English Dictionary

“The dictionary is committed to making space for words from the Philippines.”

In 1884, the very first Filipino word was officially added to the English language: abaca. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is “a kind of banana plant, Musa textilis, native to the Philippines, the petioles of which yield a strong fiber. Also: the fiber itself, used for making paper, ropes, matting, etc.; Manila hemp.”

Since then, the Philippines has added more and more words to the English language. On June 14, 2019, the Philippine Embassy in London celebrated these Filipino loan words to the English language, including English words that have been Filipinized to have new meaning (even Filipinized is an added word to the OED), such as comfort room (other countries refer to it as restroom), bold (sexually explicit film, AKA pornography), gimmick (night out), and high blood (angry, agitated). Together, these words and more make up the rich and colorful vocabulary of Philippine English.

Interestingly, upon perusing the dictionary, we discovered that jeepney, a word added in the dictionary in 1986, is a derivative of the word jitney, which means a small bus that carries passengers over a regular route on a flexible schedule. In the 1950s, the word jitney was combined with jeep to form a new word, jeepney, which refers to a converted bus from a jeep.


Over 200 Words Added from the Philippines

“Filipinos have enriched the English vocabulary since the language was first introduced to the country on a wide scale at the turn of the 19th century. Since then, Filipinos have not only contributed new words but have also expanded the meanings of existing ones,” said Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo. Since 1884, there have been 206 Filipino words added to the dictionary.

Dr. Danica Salazar, OED’s World English editor, said the OED will continue to welcome Filipino words into the English language. “The dictionary is committed to making space for words from the Philippines, as by doing so, we recognize how its Filipino speakers contribute to the richness and diversity of English,” she said.

“It is quite noticeable that many of the Philippines’ contributions to the Oxford English Dictionary are words related to food and pop culture,” said Lagdameo.

Below is a list of some Filipino loan words and Filipinized English words added in the Oxford English Dictionary in the last 30 years.


abaca (noun): A kind of banana plant, Musa textilis, native to the Philippines, the petioles of which yield a strong fiber. Also: the fiber itself, used for making paper, ropes, matting, etc.; Manila hemp.


accomplish (verb): to add the required information to (a form or questionnaire); to fill in, to complete


adobo (noun): in Filipino cookery: a spicy stew, typically consisting of pork, poultry, or seafood cooked in a vinegar-based sauce, seasoned with garlic, soy sauce, bay leaves, and peppercorns


advanced (adjective): of a clock or watch: indicating a time ahead of the correct time; = fast

Aling (noun): a title of courtesy or respect prefixed to the first name of an older woman


arnis (noun): any of various forms of self-defense and martial arts traditionally practiced in the Philippines, characterized by the use of sticks, bladed weapons, and bare hands in combat

ate (noun): an elder sister. Also used as a respectful title or form of address for an older woman

baby back rib (noun): a rib of pork cut from the upper portion of the back, which is shorter than a spare rib; usually in plural, as baby back ribs (sometimes with singular agreement)

bagoong (noun): in Filipino cookery: a sauce or paste made from fermented or salted fish, used as an ingredient in dishes or as a condiment

bahala na (noun): expressing an attitude of optimistic acceptance or fatalistic resignation, especially in acknowledging that the outcome of an uncertain or difficult situation is beyond one's control or is preordained; ‘que sera sera’; hence also as noun: an approach to life characterized by this attitude


balikbayan (noun): a Filipino visiting or returning to the Philippines after a period of living in another country

balikbayan box (noun): a carton shipped or brought to the Philippines from another country by a Filipino who has been living overseas, typically containing items such as food, clothing, toys, and household products

Photo by SHOPEE.

balisong (noun): a folding pocket knife having a handle consisting of two parts which divide and pivot round to enclose the blade, typically used as a weapon

balut (noun): a fertilized duck's egg boiled and eaten in the shell while still warm, a traditional dish in parts of South-East Asia, and regarded as a delicacy in the Philippines

baon (noun): money, food, or other provisions taken to school, work, or on a journey

barangay (noun): in the Philippines: a village, suburb, or other demarcated neighborhood; a small territorial and administrative district forming the most local level of government

barkada (noun): a group of friends

baro’t saya (noun): a traditional Philippine costume for women, consisting of a collarless blouse and a long wrap-around skirt

barong (noun): barong Tagalog

barong Tagalog (noun): a lightweight, embroidered shirt for men, worn untucked and traditionally made of piña or a similar vegetable fiber


Batangas knife (noun): a folding pocket knife with a handle consisting of two parts which divide and pivot round to enclose the blade, typically used as a weapon

batchmate (noun): a member of the same graduation class as another; a classmate; also in extended use

bayanihan (noun): a traditional system of mutual assistance in which the members of a community work together to accomplish a difficult task; in later use also: a spirit of civic unity and cooperation among Filipinos

bihon (noun): In Filipino cookery: very long, thin noodles made with rice flour; also: a dish made with such noodles.

bodega (noun): a storehouse or storeroom

bold (adjective): of a film, scene, etc.: having sexual content; erotic, risqué; also of an actor: appearing in sexually explicit films; having a sexually provocative image

bongga (adjective): extravagant, flamboyant; impressive, stylish; also as a more general term of approbation: excellent, great

calamansi (noun): the fruit of the calamondin


calamondin (noun): more fully calamondin orange. A small, tart-fleshed citrus fruit with orange skin, produced by a dwarf tree thought to be a natural hybrid between the mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata) and the kumquat (Citrus japonica); also: the tree itself, which is native to the Philippines and Indonesia, and is sometimes grown as a houseplant


carinderia (noun): a food stall with a small seating area, typically in a market or at a roadside, selling cooked food at low prices

carnap (verb): to steal a motor vehicle

carnapper (noun): a car thief or a person who steals a motor vehicle

comfort room (noun): (originally) a room in a public building or workplace furnished with amenities such as facilities for resting, personal hygiene, and storage of personal items (now rare); (later) a public toilet (now chiefly Philippine English)

despedida (noun): more fully, despedida party. A social event honoring someone who is about to depart on a journey or leave an organization; a going-away party

dine-in (noun and adjective): The serving or consumption of food on the premises of the shop or restaurant in which it was bought. Of, relating to, or providing food for consumption on the premises

dirty ice cream (noun): in Filipino cookery: ice cream of a type that is typically made from coconut milk, sold from handcarts by street vendors


dirty kitchen (noun): a kitchen where everyday cooking is done by household staff, as distinct from a kitchen that is purely for show or for special use by the owner of the house

duende (noun): in the folklore of the Philippines: a supernatural being or spirit, typically short in stature and resembling a pixie or imp


ensaimada (noun): In Filipino cookery: a spiral-shaped pastry made with sweet yeast dough

estafa (noun): criminal deception, fraud; dishonest dealing gimmick (noun): a night out with friends (e.g., “We have a gimmick tonight at QC.”)

go down (verb): to alight from a vehicle (e.g., “I need to go down at EDSA.”)

halo-halo (noun): a dessert made of mixed fruits, sweet beans, milk, and shaved ice, typically topped with purple yam, crème caramel, and ice cream

high blood (adjective): angry, agitated (e.g., “Don’t be so high blood!”)

jeepney (noun): a jitney bus converted from a jeep


kare-kare (noun): in Filipino cookery: a stew of oxtail, tripe, meat, and vegetables, cooked in a thick, peanut-based sauce and colored with annatto (atsuete)

kikay (noun and adjective): n. a flirtatious girl or woman; a girl or woman interested in beauty products and fashion; adj. belonging to or characteristic of a kikay; of a girl or woman: interested in beauty products and fashion; stylishly feminine

kikay kit (noun): A soft case in which a woman's toiletries and cosmetics are stored

kilig (noun and adjective): n. exhilaration or elation caused by an exciting or romantic experience; an instance of this, a thrill; adj. 1. of a person: exhilarated by an exciting or romantic experience; thrilled, elated, gratified; 2. causing or expressing a rush of excitement or exhilaration; thrilling, enthralling, captivating

KKB (interjection and adjective): ‘Kaniya-kaniyang bayad,’ literally ‘each one pays their own,’ used esp. to indicate that the cost of a meal is to be shared. Also as adjective (e.g., “Let’s eat out, KKB!”)


kuya (noun): An elder brother. Also used as a respectful title or form of address for an older man

lechon (noun): a whole pig roasted on a spit, usually over coals; a dish or portion of this

Mang (noun): a title of courtesy or respect prefixed to the first name of an older man

monkey-eating eagle (noun): The great Philippine eagle, Pithecophaga jefferyi, a very large eagle native to the Philippines


palay (noun): unhusked rice

pan de sal (noun): a yeast-raised bread roll made of flour, eggs, sugar and salt, widely consumed in the Philippines, especially for breakfast

pancit (noun): in Filipino cookery: noodles; (also) any of various Filipino dishes made with noodles

panciteria (noun): an inexpensive restaurant, typically serving noodle dishes

pasalubong (noun): a gift or souvenir given to a friend or relative by a person who has returned from a trip or arrived for a visit

pom-pom (noun): general attributive, in relation to prostitutes and prostitution, chiefly in the Philippines, Japan, and adjacent regions

salvage (verb): to apprehend and execute (a suspected criminal) without trial

sari-sari store (noun): a small neighborhood store selling a variety of goods

sinigang (noun): in Filipino cookery: a type of soup made with meat, shrimp, or fish and flavored with a sour ingredient such as tamarind or guava

sisig (noun): in Filipino cookery: a dish consisting of chopped pork, onions, and chilies, usually served on a hot plate, seasoned with calamansi and topped with an egg


sorbetes (noun): in Filipino cookery: ice cream of a type that is typically made from coconut milk, sold from handcarts by street vendors

tabo (noun): a dipper used to scoop up water from a pail or bucket while washing, traditionally made of coconut shell or bamboo but now more commonly made of plastic


teleserye (noun): a television soap opera

tita (noun): an aunt; also used as a respectful title or form of address for an older woman

tito (noun): an uncle; also used as a respectful title or form of address for an older man traffic (adjective): marked by slow movement of vehicles; congested

trapo (noun): a politician perceived as belonging to a conventional and corrupt ruling class

turon (noun): in Filipino cookery: sliced bananas or other fruit rolled in a thin layer of pastry and deep-fried, served as a dessert or snack.

ube (noun): a variety of yam (species name, Dioscorea alata) producing tubers with purple or white flesh, esp. used in Filipino cookery. Also: a tuber of such a plant

utang na loob (noun): a sense of obligation to return a favor owed to someone

viand (noun): meat, seafood, or vegetable dish that accompanies rice in a typical Filipino meal

yaya (noun): woman employed by a family to look after a child, or a sick or elderly person; also as a familiar form of address

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