In English, there’s no shortage that oddities and weirdness. One of the best sticking points for both second language learners and native English speaker alike is spelling. English is a language of borrowed words. End 75% of all English words are loanwords! (If you’re interested in learning more about this, check out my article on just how much the the English language is actually English)

When English lend a new word from an additional language, that likes to save the spelling the same. This leads to indigenous that are pronounced in different way than they’re spelt and an in its entirety mess because that everyone once it pertains to spelling.

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“Refrigerator” was obtained into English indigenous Latin and also keeps the Latin spelling when “fridge” is a word acquired from frozen refrigerator by English speakers. At very first it to be spelt “frig”, however as time go on it linked with continual spelling rule to end up being “fridge”; similar to words favor “bridge” or “ledge”.

The trip from Latin

The native “refrigerate” comes to us native Latin where words is refrigerare. This is spelt in virtually exactly the same means as the English refrigerator and also refrigerate except the Latin verb ending -re is remove and English word end -ate and -tor are included to the words.

Ultimately, refrigerare in Latin is acquired through the Latin adjective frigus, which means cold, this is likewise where we gain the word frigid native in English.

These words, refrigerate and also refrigerator, have remained in English due to the fact that at the very least the 1600s. However, they were largely relegated to a scientific intake as many Latin obtained words are. This all adjusted when the appliance we now call a fridge was invented.

The concept of artificial refrigeration was occurred in 1748 through a Scottish chemist named William Cullen. Almost a century later on in around the mid-1800s, the very first examples of beforehand refrigerators were being built. It was roughly this time that words “refrigerator” started to be supplied in a much more comprehensive context amongst many more speakers the English.

Click right here for a bigger version the this graph.

The graph above shows the incidents of the native “refrigerator” and “fridge” in print between the years 1800 and also 2019 courtesy of Google’s ngrams viewer.

We can see that approximately the year 1830 words “refrigerator” beginning to show up in print much an ext often than in year previously. In 1860, the word starts to choose up heavy steam and get its peak usage in 1943.

Conversely if you look an extremely closely, you can see a little uptick in words “fridge” showing up in publish in 1920, but the word yes, really starts to see vast adoption in the 1960s.

Keep in mind that the graph above is just a reasonably narrow choice of language use. That only defines the language in books digitized by Google and has no information about English as it was spoken in those time periods.

We have the right to imagine the the shortened native “frig” and also the modern “fridge” were provided much an ext often when speaking than they were when writing until only relatively recently.

Let’s Shorten the a Little

If there’s one point you have the right to count on once it comes to language, it’s that people are lazy. Words will certainly be clipped and also shortened whenever feasible to simplify the exchange the information. The word “refrigerator” is no different.

While the refrigerator to be still new, the whole word was usually offered to describe the appliance that keeps our food cold. However, as at an early stage as 1920 we begin to view the clipped word “frig” being provided to refer to the refrigerator.

As we observed above, together fridges became much more prevalent in people’s dwellings (around 1960) words fridge began to see widespread use amongst an increasing variety of people.

So why the “D”?

So if we obtain the native “fridge” from words “refrigerator”, where does that D come from?

As we witnessed above, once people first started come clip refrigerator right into a smaller word they used the native “frig”. This makes sense because, as we know, over there is no D in refrigerator.

However, this order of the word leads to part confusion due to the fact that English joint rules would lead us to believe that this new word would certainly be pronounced through a difficult G sound (/g/) in ~ the finish of it (/frɪg/).

In fact, over there is already a verb to frig in English through multiple definitions such as “to rub” or an ext vulgar meanings similar to the English swear indigenous “fuck” and also as supposed this indigenous is pronounced v a difficult G sound similar to various other words finishing in G: pig, plug, rug, beg, etc.

Unlike the verb to frig, the clipped type of refrigerator to be pronounced through a /dʒ/ sound instead. It’s most likely that as the popularity of refrigerators as appliances grew and the word began to be supplied in print an ext often, English speakers chose to bring the spelling of the word in line with various other words with the /dʒ/ sound.

This meant adding a D to words to regularize it and also make it similar to various other words v /dʒ/: bridge, ledge, dodge, etc.


Ultimately, this left united state with the word we all know and also love now “fridge”.

It’s a very common event in English for words that are borrowed from various other languages to retain their spellings also if this way that they could break the pronunciation rule of English.

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However, the word “fridge” to be an totally English coinage. That was produced by English speakers and also so English speakers molded it to fit come the pronunciation criter we expect to see.

That was one more article from my Hidden background of English series. If you liked it, girlfriend will more than likely enjoy mine other short articles in the series. Friend can inspect them the end here. I hope you learned something new and interesting around the English language today. I’ll catch you in the next article!