False cognates are pairs of words that seem to be cognates because of similar sounds and meaning, but have different etymologies; they can be within the same language or from different languages. For example, the English word dog and the Mbabaram word dog have exactly the same meaning, but by complete coincidence. This is different from false friends, which are similar-sounding words with different meanings, but which may in fact be etymologically related. (For example: Spanish dependiente looks like dependent, but means employee as well.)
The term "false cognate" is sometimes misused to refer to false friends, but the two phenomena are distinct. False friends occur when two words in different languages or dialects look similar, but have different meanings. While some false friends are also false cognates, many are genuine cognates (see False friends § Causes). For example, English pretend and French prétendre are false friends, but not false cognates, as they have the same origin.
- English ache and Ancient Greek ἄχος ákhos (pain, distress)
- English ask and Jaqaru aska
- English bad vs. Persian bad vs. Armenian ւադ vad
- English dog and Mbabaram dog
- English be and Gbaya be
- English day and Portuguese "dia" or Spanish día, or Latin dies, or Italian dì, or even English diary
- English dung and Korean 똥 ttong (excrement)
- English emoticon and Japanese 絵文字 emoji
- English hollow and Lake Miwok hóllu
- English much and Spanish mucho
- English tiny and Yana tʼinii
- English -s (plural ending[note 1]) and French, Portuguese and Spanish -s (plural ending)
- French feu (fire)[note 2] and German Feuer (fire)[note 3]
- German haben and Latin habere (both "have")
- Greek root -lab- and Sanskrit root -labh- (take)
- Inuktitut kayak and Turkish kayık
- Malay mata and modern Greek máti (eye, from ommátion)
- Hungarian fiú 'son' and Romanian fiu 'son'[note 4]
- Japanese arigatō and Portuguese obrigado (thank you)
- Inherited from Old English -as, see Middle English#Nouns and Old English grammar#Nouns
- from Latin focus
- from *fu(w)er-, from Proto-Germanic *fōr ~ *fun-, see Kroonen, Guus (2013), Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic, Leiden: Brill
- Hungarian fiú is from Proto-Uralic *pojka, while Romanian fiu is from Latin filius.
- Moss (1992), p. ?.
- Chamizo-Domínguez (2008), p. 166.
- Harper, Douglas. "Pretend". The Online Etymological Dictionary. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
- Harper, Douglas. "ache". Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
- Lyle Campbell, Historical Linguistics: An Introduction, 3rd edition, p. 350
- Campbell, Lyle; Mixco, Mauricio J. (2007). A Glossary of Historical Linguistics. Edinburgh University Press. p. 29. ISBN 978 0 7486 2378 5.
- Oxford English Dictionary, Second edition.
- Martin, Samuel E. (1966). "Lexical Evidence Relating Korean to Japanese". Language. 42 (2): 187. doi:10.2307/411687.
- Taggart, Caroline (5 November 2015). "New Words for Old: Recycling Our Language for the Modern World". Michael O'Mara Books – via Google Books.
- Lyle Campbell, Historical Linguistics: An Introduction, 3rd edition, p. 355
- Online Etymology Dictionary
- LIV s. v. *sleh₂gʷ-, *lembʰ-
- de la Fuente, José Andrés Alonso (2010). "Urban legends: Turkish kayık 'boat' and "Eskimo" Qayaq 'Kayak'" (PDF). Studia Linguistica Universitatis Iagellonicae Cracoviensis. Retrieved 2015-03-06.
- Chamizo-Domínguez, Pedro J. (2008), Semantics and Pragmatics of False Friends, New York/Oxon: Routledge
- Jakobson, Roman (1962), "Why 'mama' and 'papa'?", Selected Writings, I: Phonological Studies, The Hague: Mouton, pp. 538–545
- Moss, Gillian (1992), "Cognate recognition: Its importance in the teaching of ESP reading courses to Spanish speakers", English for Specific Purposes, 11 (2): 141–158, doi:10.1016/s0889-4906(05)80005-5
- Rubén Morán (2011), 'Cognate Linguistics', Kindle Edition, Amazon.
- Geoff Parkes and Alan Cornell (1992), 'NTC's Dictionary of German False Cognates', National Textbook Company, NTC Publishing Group.