Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Can you use words borrowed from other languages on the IELTS Exam?

Of course you can!

Any words that have become part of the English vernacular are great to use on IELTS.

These are often very high level vocabulary words, which will boost your Vocabulary score.

Today we’ll share five amazingly high scoring words that have been adopted into English from other languages.

English is a bastard language

It is made up of so many other languages!

You can’t speak English without using adopted words.

bastard – something no longer in its original form

This word has multiple meanings, and is often used as a curse.

When referring to a language, it means it has changed over time.

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#1 cul-de-sac

  • cul-de-sac – a circular dead-end on a residential street 

There is no English equivalent for this word!

We’ve adopted it into English, and it’s the only word we have to describe the circle at the end of a road.

On the Speaking or Writing test, you can use this word when describing places and neighborhoods.

Example: This weekend, we are having a neighborhood block party in our cul-de-sac.

Example: We ride bikes around to see all the Christmas decorations in the cul-de-sacs.

#2 repertoire

  • repertoire – a collection of items or skills

This is often used to describe a person’s music collection, or the songs a musician is able to play.

Example: My Christmas music repertoire is quite vast.

Example: She plays the flute beautifully, and has a lot of songs in her repertoire.

#3 nonchalant

  • nonchalant – casual, without great fanfare or seeming importance

Use this word to talk about something that is done without enthusiasm.

  • nonchalant – adjective 
  • nonchalantly – adverb

Example: Some people are nonchalant about Christmas, because they feel it is just another holiday.

Example: Anyone who is nonchalant about studying for IELTS will likely get low scores.

Example: You cannot study for IELTS nonchalantly!

#4 anonymous

  • anonymous – a person’s name is not attached

You can use this word to describe something that happened when you don’t know who was responsible.

  • anonymous – adjective
  • anonymously – adverb

Example: White elephant gift exchanges are anonymous, as people give gifts without saying who it is from. 

Example: Similarly, coworkers often give Secret Santa gifts, where they draw a name and buy a present for someone, but give it anonymously.

Example: Many quotes are attributed to “Anonymous,” because we don’t know who to attribute them to.

#5 wanderlust

  • wanderlust – a desire or feeling to travel and keep moving to see new things

Example: You can satisfy your wanderlust if you buy a train pass and travel all over Europe!

Example: Visiting new countries often stokes your wanderlust and makes you want to see more of the world!


Don’t be afraid to use words on IELTS that English has borrowed from other languages!

These are excellent high level words that will raise your IELTS Vocabulary score.

We discussed some other borrowed phrases in episode 531 of our All Ears English podcast.

Familiarize yourself with how these are used, and add them to your Vocabulary Notebook!

For more details on how to organize and use this notebook, join the 3 Keys IELTS Success System.

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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