Weird Hungarian Language


The Hungarian language (Magyar), along with Finnish and Estonian, is one of the few European languages that are not part of the Indo-European language family. In other words it means that if your native language is other than Hungarian, you don’t understand a damn word. As most of the people know, Hungarian belongs to the Finno-Ugric (Uralic) branch, the same group as Finnish and Estonian. However, even though you may think at least those people might understand each other a bit, the truth is that they don’t understand at all and these languages have nothing in common, as also confirmed by many Finnish people I’ve met (and vice versa). What not many people know, I suppose, is that there are two non-European languages that are closer to Hungarian language than Finnish or Estonian. It is Mansi and Khanty – two languages of western Siberia.

Anyway, my post isn’t supposed to be a linguistic lesson, neither do I want to open a discussion about this language. Hungarian is a unique language and even if you know 5 other European languages, your knowledge will be totally useless here in Hungary, because you won’t simply find an association with any of them. Except for a few words that have been overtaken from other languages, mainly Slovak/Czech, Turkish or German. As a native Slavic speaker, I made a list of words I’ve run into during my life in Hungary, which originate mostly from Slovakian, or possibly Czech. But first of all take the following pronunciation test 🙂



bánya báň a mine/quarry
bárány beran a ram
cica číča in the meaning of a chick
cigány pecsenye cigánská pečenie (pečeně) so called “Gipsy roasted meat”
cserysznye čerešne (třešně) a cherry
csipke šípek a rose hip
csütörtök štvrtok (čtvrtek) Thursday
drága drahá/milá dear
ebéd oběd lunch
galuska halušky a type of food mostly served as garnish
gomb gombík (knoflík) a button
gomba houba a mushroom
hiba chyba error
kabát kabát a coat
kapitány kapitán a captain
kapor kopr a dill
káposzta kapusta (zelí) cabbage (in CZ kapusta=kale)
kovács kováč (kovář) a blacksmith
kulcs klúč (klíč) a key
kukorica kukurica (kukuřice) a corn
kupac kupa a pile
lapát lopata a shovel
macska mačka (kočka) a cat
mák mák poppy seed
málna malina a raspberry
medve medvěd a bear
padlizsán baklažán an eggplant
paradiscsom paradajka (rajče) a tomato
patak potok a creek
páva páv a peacock
pecsét pečať (pečeť) a seal (stamp)
péntek piatok (pátek) Friday
petrezselyem petržel a parsley
pohár pohár a glass, in CZ it’s a kind of a glass or cup (as an award)
recept recept a recipe
reklám reklama a commercial
répa repa (řepa) a beet
ribizli rybíz a currant
sablon šablóna (šablona) a template
saláta šalát (salát) a lettuce
sonka šunka a ham
spenót špenát a spinach
széna seno a hay
szerda streda (středa) Wednesday
szombat sobota Saturday
sztrapacska strapačky basically "halušky", but most often with cabbage
tábla tabule a board
táška taška a bag
vacsora večera (večeře) dinner
WordPress Responsive Table


If you are more interested in etymology, you can check more Slavonic words here

Besides the words originally Slavonic, there are also words resembling similar words in other languages (and may then also have their origin there). I’ve picked up a couple of them.

alma – alma – an apple (Turkish)
ház – haus – a house (German)
lista – a list
mustár – mustard
kocsi – la koche – a car (Spanish)
strand – strand  – a beach (German)

To make the topic just a bit more interesting, here is a list of words that you can also find in Czech, however, they have a completely different meaning.

nádor (palatin) – in Czech means tumor
rákos (cancerous) – in Czech means reed, but we also use “rak”(coming from “rakovina”) for cancer
bizony (certainly) – in Czech bizon means bison
Szob (a town located north of HU) – in Czech sob is reindeer
Csesznek (a Hungarian castle) – in CZ garlic 😀

Now it may seem that the Czech/Slovak language and Hungarian have much in common. But in fact they don’t. Except for these words, whose similarity originates from the mutual history, these languages are completely different, although there is some similar logic behind. Or let’s better say the way of thinking and making words, naming things  – that’s similar.

Whenever I run into another word, I will add it to the list.