16 Spanish words often used in English

Since travel exists, languages have interacted with each other. Nowadays, in our diverse society, it’s difficult to tell the origins of many terms.
That’s where etymology comes in handy.

English is one of the most important languages today. There is no doubt about it. However, the influence of Hispanic culture (especially in the United States) is very obvious, almost palpable.
Here is a list  of Spanish words that English speakers use on a daily basis.


1. Mosquito

From Spanish and Portuguese, diminutive of “mosca”, from Latin “musca” (“fly”).
Definition: A slender long-legged fly with aquatic larvae.


2. Patio

From Spanish “patio”.
Definition: A paved outdoor area adjoining a house.


3. Alfalfa

Originally an Arabic term (“alfalfez”), from Spanish “alfalfa”.
Definition: A leguminous plant with clover-like leaves and bluish flowers, native to south-western Asia and widely grown for fodder.

4. Pronto

From Spanish “pronto”.
Definition: Promptly; quickly.

5. Tango

Argentine-Spanish word.
Definition: A ballroom dance originating in Buenos Aires, characterized by marked rhythms and postures and abrupt pauses.


6. Chihuahua

The origin of the name is not known for sure, but it is currently attributed to the Spanish language.
Definition: A very small dog of a smooth-haired large-eyed breed originating in Mexico.

7. Siesta

From Spanish “siesta”.
Definition: An afternoon rest or nap, especially one taken during the hottest hours of the day in a hot climate.

8. Iguana

Originally a Taino term (“iwana”), from Spanish “iguana”.
Definition: A large arboreal tropical American lizard with a spiny crest along the back and greenish coloration.

9. Mariachi

Mexican term.
Definition: Denoting a type of traditional Mexican folk music, performed by a small group of strolling musicians.

10. Rodeo

From Spanish verb “rodear” (“to surround”).
Definition: An exhibition or contest in which cowboys show their skill at riding broncos, roping calves, wrestling steers, etc.

11. Tornado

From Spanish “tronar” (“to thunder”).
Definition: A mobile, destructive vortex of violently rotating winds having the appearance of a funnel-shaped cloud and advancing beneath a large storm system.

12. Coyote

From Spanish “coyote”.
Definition: A wild dog that resembles the wolf, native to North America.

13. Macho

Originally from Latin “masculus” and, a posteriori, from Spanish “macho”.
Definition: Masculine in an overly assertive or aggressive way.

16. Vigilante

Originally from Latin “vigilans” and, a posteriori, from Spanish “vigilante”.
Definition: A member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate.

15. Armadillo

From Spanish “armadillo. It comes from “armado” (armored), as a reference to its protective plates.
Definition: A nocturnal insectivorous mammal that has large claws for digging and a body covered in bony plates.

16. Machete

From Spanish “macho” (seen before).
Definition: A broad, heavy knife used as an implement or weapon, originating in Central America and the Caribbean.


As we said, English has been influenced by many languages. Some of its words come from Italian, Spanish, French
Do you know any other word that we could include on this list? Write it in the comment section 😉.



Oxford Dictionaries



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