16 Oct 15 English Words Borrowed From Spanish

As a global, flexible and versatile language, English is capable of borrowing and altering words from other languages. That said, English speakers have unknowingly adopted many Spanish words. You may have come across some Spanish words that sound similar in English and some are even spelled alike with minute differences.

Below is a list of 15 English words loaned from Spanish with their meaning and etymological origin.

1. Breeze

Spanish word: Brisa

Meaning: A gentle blow or moderate current of air

Origin: 1560s; from Old Spanish briza

2. Ranch

Spanish word: Rancho

Meaning: A large farm to raise livestock or crops

Origin: 1800–10s; rancho – American Spanish originally means a group of people who eat together, like a mess room

New to learning Spanish? Take a look at these 17 common words and phrases to help you get started!

3. Guerrilla

Spanish word: Guerrilla

Meaning: A member of a small independent group taking part in irregular fighting, typically against larger regular forces

Origin: Early 19th century; Spanish, diminutive of guerra war

4. Patio

Spanish word: Patio

Meaning: An open area or a courtyard attached to a house

Origin: Early 19th century; denoting an inner courtyard in Spanish

5. Stampede

Spanish word: Estampida

Meaning: A sudden frenzied rush of people or animals

Origin: Germanic origin; Mexican Spanish estampida, from the Spanish word “uproar or crash”

6. Macho

Spanish word: Macho

Meaning: To have manly characteristics and qualities such as being robust, strong, aggressive, unemotional, etc.

Origin:  Early 1920s; macho means male in Spanish

7. Cockroach

Spanish word: Cucaracha

Meaning: An insect with antennae and legs, usually the reddish brown kinds are found as household pests

Origin: Early 17th century; cockroach was derived from the Spanish word cucaracha

8.  Avocado

Spanish word: Aguacate

Meaning: A dark green pear-shaped fruit with smooth, light green pulp and one large seed in the center

Origin: 1690–1700; alteration of Spanish aguacate to avocado

9. Plaza

Spanish word: Plaza

Meaning: A public area, in a form of a building with shops and stores

Origin: Late 17th century; from Spanish, that means ‘place’

10. Mustang

Spanish word: Mestengo

Meaning: A small and lightly built American horse

Origin: Early 19th century; from a blend of Spanish mestengo (from mesta ‘company of graziers’) and mostrenco, both meaning wild or masterless cattle

11. Cargo

Spanish word: Cargo

Meaning: Goods that are transported through ship, aircraft, or motor vehicle

Origin: Mid-17th century; from Spanish cargo, cargar – to load

12.  Vanilla

Spanish word: Vainilla

Meaning: A sweet substance extracted from vanilla pods, used as a flavor in food or in perfume, etc.

Origin: Mid-17th century; in Spanish, vainilla little pod, equivalent to vaina – a sheath

13.  Lasso

Spanish word: Lazo

Meaning: A rope with a knot that forms a ring to catch horses and cattle

Origin: Mid-18th century; Spanish lazo, based on Latin laqueus ‘noose’

14.  Canyon

Spanish word: Cañón

Meaning: A deep narrow gorge with steep sides

Origin: Mid-19th century; from Spanish cañón tube

15. Tornado

Spanish word: Tornado

Meaning: A powerful, destructive windstorm that forms itself into a cone-like shape, capable of destroying everything on land

Origin: 1550–60; derived from the Spanish word tronada

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About the Author: Randa A. Loves experimenting and being creative with food and recipes. She is passionate about nature, learning languages, and exploring different cultures. Randa speaks English, Arabic, and some Spanish.

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