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Polynesian Words

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

Asian loan words in English

by Ann-Marie Imbornoni

Asian Loan Words

Words derived from:

Hawaiian

  • hula
  • luau
  • ukelele, from words meaning "flea jumping."

Tahitian

  • tattoo, introduced to the English-speaking world by Capt. James Cook in his account of his voyage around the world from 1768 to1771. Sailors later brought the actual custom to Europe.

Tongan

  • taboo, like tattoo, occurs for the first time in Capt. James Cook's journals.

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