Longest false "bilingual" word

There’s a number of false “bilingual” words. That is, they are coincidentally spelled the same, but are not actually related and have unrelated meanings. Off the top of my head, I can come up with a number of them, all of them between English and another language, but none longer than 4 letters:

  • Gift (German) means “poison”
  • pays (French) means “country” or “region”
  • rang (French) means “line” or “row”
  • pain (French) means “bread”
  • stem (Dutch) means “vote”

So anyone know of a longer example? They can be between any two languages, but remember the words do have to be unrelated.

The Bart, The

Schmuck means “jewelry” in German and “dick” (literal or figurative) in Yiddish.

But are the two are related via slang?

How about: kitten = young cat (English), to cement (German)

Apparently, the word for “worse” in Turkish is “better”.

Fear (Irish) means “man”.
Comes (Latin) means a count, an earl.

For 5 letters (and I’m sure we can do better): Spanish saber (to know) = AmE saber (type of sword).

Not the exact spelling, but in Japanese “tako” means octopus. If you go into a Japanese restaurant to order “a taco” you’ll be eating tentacles. (And yes, I realize this is only 4 letters.)

For a 5-letter word, similarly, “ringo” means “apple” in Japanese. Funny coincidence that Apple Records was founded by the Beatles, one of whom was named Ringo.

There’s a town in Japan named “Obama”, and I think another named “Ohara” (though without the apostrophe). Not sure if proper names count, though.

Another 4-letter one: The Chinese word for “dragon” is sometimes rendered either as “long” or “lung”, either of which is an English word.

And if fictional languages count, one of the realms in Tolkien’s Middle Earth was named “Region”.

Soundwise, Russian “Старый” (old) <==> “starry” (full of stars)

6 letters in each language, but of course, not the same 6 letters

Lets not do proper names.

Whichever one, if either, is the official romanization.

Pretty sure that was Eregion, although it’s been a long time since I’ve looked at the Middle Earth map.

Spanish infinitives ending in -er are probably a rich vein for this.

Spanish: to break, from Latin rumpere with the same meaning
English: various, perhaps from Old French rampare, “to climb, scale, mount”

7 letters:

Welsh blinder = “tiredness” (-i- as in “ink”)
English blinder = “he who or that which blinds; blinker for a horse” (-i- as in “blind”)

Found a Quora thread that discusses the same topic and gives a lot of examples. It appears that this general linguistic phenomenon is known as false friends.

From that Quora thread, the longest word I could find is “déception” (meaning “disappointment” in French), with 9 letters, although I’m unsure if that one counts since one of the E’s has an acute accent.

Another 9 letter one with an accent is English diversion vs Spanish diversión, which means “fun”.

Is that really a different meaning then?

distraction from business, care, etc.; recreation; amusement; a pastime:

The ion ending in English words is often perhaps even usually from Latin. Divertere is the Latin root for diversion and I’d assume for the Spanish word as well.

Are we sure that’s a false friend, though? One meaning of diversion in English is a recreation or amusement. It’s a fairly similar meaning to fun. Maybe one is a loanword, or maybe they both derive from a common source.

Yes, I even use the term “diversion” to mean a fun activity. “This is a pleasant diversion.”

Well, If you speak both speak German and English, you know your false friends like “gift”. Another one is Mist/mist, meaning manure/dung or fog. That’s the reason why the Rolls Royce Silver Mist was called Silver Shadow in the end.