A calque is a word-for-word translation from one language to another. When you take a phrase in French, for example, and translate each word literally into English, that's a calque.

There are many examples in English of common phrases that are calques, translated from other languages. An "Adam's apple," for example, is a calque of the French pomme d'Adam, and "beer garden" is a calque of the German Biergarten. In both cases, the English phrases came from a direct, literal translation of the original. Another term for this is a "loan translation." In French, calque means "copy," from calquer, "to trace by rubbing."

Definitions of calque
  1. noun
    an expression introduced into one language by translating it from another language
    “`superman' is a calque for the German `Ubermensch'”
    synonyms: calque formation, loan translation
    see moresee less
    type of:
    expression, locution, saying
    a word or phrase that particular people use in particular situations
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘calque'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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