List of English Words of Spanish Origin That Might Surprise You

In today's world, English has become a universal language, with most business transactions and scientific research being carried out in English. Not only is it spoken as a second language by millions around the world, but many of its words have also found their way into foreign languages. However, you may be surprised to learn that there are many English words of Spanish origin. Discover some examples of English words borrowed from Spanish.

Example English Words of Spanish Origin Example English Words of Spanish Origin
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Animal Names That Originate From Spanish

Many animal names we use on a daily basis are English words with Spanish origins.

English Term

Spanish Term

Meaning/Origin of Spanish Term

alligator

lagarto

literally, the lizard

anchovy

anchova

salt-cured fish

armadillo

armadillo

diminutive of armado (armored)

cockroach

cucaracha

from Latin

coyote

coyote

from the Nahuatl language

iguana

iguana

from the Arawakan languages

mosquito

mosquito

diminutive form of mosco (fly)

puma

puma

from the Quechua language

Food and Drink Loanwords

Many around the world enjoy cuisines and beverages from Spanish-speaking nations, and they also use the Spanish names for these foods and drinks.

English Term

Spanish Term

Meaning/Origin of Spanish Term

barbecue

barbacoa

a set up to cook food over a fire

burrito

burrito

diminutive of burro (donkey)

chocolate

chocolate

from the Nahuatl language

chorizo

chorizo

type of sausage

churro

churro

an onomatopoeia of the sound of frying dough

daiquiri

daiquiri

a sweet cocktail; from Daiquirí, a neighborhood in Cuba

jerky

charqui

meat that is salted sun or air dried

oregano

orégano

seasoning; derived from Latin and Greek

piña colada

piña colada

a sweet cocktail; literally, strained pineapple

potato

batata

likely from the Taino language

salsa

salsa

sauce

tortilla

tortilla

diminutive form of torta (cake)

Names of Places and Events Derived From Spanish

Whether you are taking a siesta outside on your patio or standing in line at a cafeteria, you are unconsciously using Spanish loanwords for places and events.

English TermSpanish TermMeaning/Origin of Spanish Term

bodega

bodega

wine cellar

cafeteria

cafetería

a place where coffee and other drinks are served

fiesta

fiesta

party

hacienda

hacienda

an estate in the countryside

patio

patio

a courtyard adjoining a house

plaza

plaza

open square or similar space in a town

ranch

rancho

small farm; group of people eating together or spending time together

rodeo

rodeo

from rodear (go round)

siesta

siesta

an afternoon nap

silo

silo

a dry place where grains or seeds are stored

Nature Terms That Come From Spanish

Several terms to describe the weather, landscapes and other natural phenomena also derive from Spanish.

English Term

Spanish Term

Meaning/Origin of Spanish Term

canyon

cañón

from caño (pipe or tube)

hurricane

huracán

from the Taino language

mesa

mesa

table

niño

niño

boy or child

pampa

pampa

derived from Quechua term for “flat”

savanna

sabana

a plain, especially one with no trees

tornado

tornado

from tronada (thunderstorm) and tronar (to turn)

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Spanish Words for People and Professions

Spanish also gave us some titles and descriptions you’ve likely come across in history class or daily life.

English Term

Spanish Term

Meaning/Origin of Spanish Term

aficionado

aficionado

an amateur or a fan; from afición (love or hobby)

conquistador

conquistador

Spanish conquerors of Mexico and Peru

federales

federales

plural form of “federal”

loco

loco

crazy

matador

matador

literally, one who kills

Importing Words: Spanish Language Resources

Borrowing words is just one of the many ways in which languages can expand their vocabulary. The words above are just a few examples, but look closer and you'll find that English has actually borrowed quite a few words from Spanish over the years, as well as many other languages. In some cases, these "loanwords" can undergo some transformations that help them assimilate better into the new language.

Spanish is the official language of 20 countries and is spoken by over 500 million people across the globe. People around the world study Spanish, use it in personal, business or academic settings and enjoy the culture, foods and language of Spanish-speaking countries. You can hear the words above in their native Spanish or download Spanish worksheets to aid you in your language learning journey.