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

When English lend a brand-new word from another language, it likes to store the spelling the same. This leads to indigenous that space pronounced in different way than they’re spelt and an overall mess because that everyone as soon as it involves spelling.

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“Refrigerator” was borrowed into English native Latin and keeps the Latin spelling if “fridge” is a word acquired from refrigerator by English speakers. At first it was spelt “frig”, however as time went on it merged with consistent spelling rules to end up being “fridge”; comparable to words favor “bridge” or “ledge”.

The journey from Latin

The indigenous “refrigerate” involves us native Latin where words is refrigerare. This is spelt in almost exactly the same way as the English refrigerator and also refrigerate except the Latin verb ending -re is remove and English word endings -ate and also -tor are included to the words.

Ultimately, refrigerare in Latin is acquired through the Latin adjective frigus, which way cold, this is likewise where we acquire the native frigid from in English.

These words, refrigerate and also refrigerator, have been in English due to the fact that at least the 1600s. However, lock were mainly relegated come a scientific consumption as many Latin acquired words are. This all changed when the appliance we now speak to a fridge was invented.

The concept of artificial refrigeration was occurred in 1748 by a Scottish chemist named William Cullen. Practically a century later on in roughly the mid-1800s, the first examples of early refrigerators to be being built. The was around this time that words “refrigerator” started to be supplied in a much wider context among many much more speakers the English.

Click here for a larger version that this graph.

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

We have the right to see that approximately the year 1830 the word “refrigerator” beginning to show up in print much an ext often 보다 in years previously. In 1860, the word starts to pick up steam and reaches its peak usage in 1943.

Conversely if girlfriend look an extremely closely, you have the right to see a tiny uptick in words “fridge” showing up in print in 1920, however the word yes, really starts come see wide adoption in the 1960s.

Keep in mind the the graph over is only a fairly narrow selection of language use. It only defines the language in publications digitized by Google and also has no information around English together it was spoken in those time periods.

We deserve to imagine that the shortened indigenous “frig” and also the modern “fridge” were provided much more often once 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 as soon as it comes to language, it’s that people are lazy. Words will be clipped and also shortened whenever possible to leveling the exchange the information. Words “refrigerator” is no different.

While the refrigerator was still new, the entire word to be usually offered to describe the appliance that keeps our food cold. However, as at an early stage as 1920 we start to see the clipped indigenous “frig” being offered to describe the refrigerator.

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

So why the “D”?

So if we get the native “fridge” from the word “refrigerator”, where does the D come from?

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

However, this order of words leads to some confusion due to the fact that English together rules would certainly lead us to think that this brand-new word would be pronounced through a tough G sound (/g/) in ~ the finish of that (/frɪg/).

In fact, over there is currently a verb to frig in English with multiple interpretations such together “to rub” or much more vulgar meanings comparable to the English swear word “fuck” and as meant this native is pronounced through a difficult G sound similar to other words ending in G: pig, plug, rug, beg, etc.

Unlike the verb to frig, the clipped form of refrigerator to be pronounced with a /dʒ/ sound instead. It’s most likely that as the popular of refrigerators together appliances grew and also the word started to be provided in print an ext often, English speakers chose to lug the assignment of words in line with other words v the /dʒ/ sound.

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


Ultimately, this left us with words we all know and love this particular day “fridge”.

It’s a very common event in English because that words that are borrowed from other languages to retain your spellings even if this means that they might break the pronunciation rule of English.

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However, words “fridge” was an completely English coinage. It was produced by English speakers and also so English speakers molded it to fit to the pronunciation standards we expect to see.

That was an additional article from mine Hidden history of English series. If you chosen it, you will most likely enjoy my other articles in the series. Friend can check them out here. Ns hope you learned something brand-new and interesting about the English language today. I’ll catch you in the next article!