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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Calk \Calk\ (k[a^]lk), v. t. [E.calquer to trace, It. caicare to trace, to trample, fr. L. calcare to trample, fr. calx heel. Cf. Calcarate.] To copy, as a drawing, by rubbing the back of it with red or black chalk, and then passing a blunt style or needle over the lines, so as to leave a tracing on the paper or other thing against which it is laid or held. [Written also calque]

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"loan translation of a foreign word or phrase," from French calque, literally "a copy," from calquer "to trace by rubbing" (itself borrowed in English 1660s as calk), introduced 16c. from Italian calcare, from Latin calcare "to tread, to press down."


n. A word or phrase in a language formed by word-for-word or morpheme-by-morpheme translation of a word in another language. vb. (context transitive English) To adopt (a word or phrase) from one language to another by semantic translation of its parts.


n. an expression introduced into one language by translating it from another language [syn: loan translation]


In linguistics, a calque or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word, or root-for-root translation.

Used as a verb, "to calque" means to borrow a word or phrase from another language while translating its components so as to create a new lexeme in the target language.

"Calque" itself is a loanword from the French noun calque ("tracing; imitation; close copy"); the verb calquer means "to trace; to copy, to imitate closely"; papier calque is "tracing paper". The word "loanword" is a calque of the German word Lehnwort, just as "loan translation" is a calque of Lehn├╝bersetzung.

Proving that a word is a calque sometimes requires more documentation than does an untranslated loanword, because in some cases, a similar phrase might have arisen in both languages independently. This is less likely to be the case when the grammar of the proposed calque is quite different from that of the borrowing language or when the calque contains less obvious imagery.

Calquing is distinct from phono-semantic matching. While calquing includes semantic translation, it does not consist of phonetic matching (i.e. retaining the approximate sound of the borrowed word through matching it with a similar-sounding pre-existing word or morpheme in the target language).

Usage examples of "calque".

He passed two calques still unloading crates of fruit and boxes of soft drinks, several fishing boats now being scoured clean, rowing boats, another calque, and reached the crowd-a merry one, as he had guessed by the drift of voices over the calm water.

There was a small close group on the deck of the calque, Tim DouBLE ImAGn 247 as if that was where he had been deposited.