Definition of calque in English:


Pronunciation /kalk/ /kælk/


another term for loan translation
‘A calque or loan-translation is a borrowing of a compound word from another language where each component is translated into native words and then joined together.’
  • ‘In either case, English-speakers may have adopted the phrase via a direct, word-for-word translation of the German idiom; linguists call this a calque.’
  • ‘So ‘butt naked’ would be a straightforward calque of a common expression whose word for ‘butt’ had dropped out of the language.’
  • ‘Yesterday, Geraint Jennings pointed out that the ‘flights’ of drinks offered on upscale restaurant menus are a calque of French ‘volée ’, which has been borrowed directly as volley.’
  • ‘Anyway, Joe has been doing French calques for sixteen years.’


be calqued on
  • Originate or function as a loan translation of.

    ‘“it goes without saying” is calqued on French “cela va sans dire”’
    • ‘Besides, even when the new meanings of existing words were calqued on cognate words in other languages.’
    • ‘The most plausible explanation of its origin seems to be that it came in via American English, calqued on German ‘hoffentlich’.’
    • ‘He is aware that the French in the above poem is purposefully calqued on English, rather than based on standard French.’
    • ‘In addition, 103 main entries are borrowed from personal or place names, and 70 further entries are calqued on models in foreign languages.’
    • ‘The Kriyol system has changed from a system calqued on Mandika to a system closer to Portuguese.’


1930s from French, literally ‘copy, tracing’, from calquer ‘to trace’, via Italian from Latin calcare ‘to tread’.