The Spanish language is full of words that come from Latin, although it has the influence of many other languages and cultures. After the conquest of the Spanish empire in America , the Spanish language was enriched with indigenisms mainly from the Nahuatl language. We review the etymology of 40 words that we continue to use on a daily basis.
- Discover the meaning of these 36 rare Spanish words.
1. Words of Nahuatl origin
2. Words of Quechua origin
3. Words of Taino origin
4. Words of Guarani origin Words of indigenous origin used in Spanish We
present a list of Spanish words (Latin and Castilian) that are heritage of the Ibero-American indigenous peoples. We also collect the word and the compound meaning if it had it. Words of Nahuatl origin
Mostly, these indigenisms come from the Nahuatl language. Currently there are about a million inhabitants, all in Mexico, who speak some of the variants of Nahuatl. These are communities in rural areas that preserve the cultural heritage of the Aztecs and Mexicas. For this reason, these words are also called Nahuatlisms or Aztecisms .
1. Avocado (aguacatl): It means testicle.
2. Cocoa (cuahuitl): Interestingly, it was also used as currency.
3. Cenote (from the Mayan tz’onot): Water deposit, well or abyss.
4. Chapapote (tzauc-popochtli): Scented glue.
5. Chicle (from the Nahuatl chitli, which in turn comes from the Mayan sicte): Sap from the chicozapote tree, indigenous to Mexico.
6. Chile (chilli): It means spicy.
7. Chipotle (chilpoctli): A variety of chili.
8. Chocolate (chocolatl): Yellowish brown water.
9. Coyote (coyotl): Kind of wolf dog.
10. Guacamole (ahuacamulli): Prepared (mulli) based on avocado.
11. Guatemala (quauhtlemallan): Place of many trees.
12. Rubber (ulli): Rubber extracted from the ulquahuill tree with which fabrics were made.
13. Jalisco (xallisco): Sandy place.
14. Raccoon (racoon): Animal “that has hands”.
15. Mexico (Mexitli): Navel (xictli) of the moon (metztli).
16. Nicaragua (nic-anahuac): Means “the Nahuas arrived here”. The Nahuas are the Mesoamerican natives.
17. Petate (petlatl): Fabric that is placed on the ground.
18. Tequila (tequitl): Referring to the place where the drink is made. It means “place where you work.
19. Tomato (tomatl): Fat water.
20. Sock (soqui): Mud or dirt. Words of Quechua origin
We know the Quechua or Quichua language as the set of languages that originate in the Andean area, mainly in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. It is also related to the Aymara languages in Bolivia. In any case, Quechua had a notable weight in the Spanish language, leaving some Quechuisms such as the following.
21. Alpaca (allpaqa): Blond variety (p’aku) of the camel.
22. Court (kancha): Closed place.
23. Tent (karpa): Bower.
24. Condor (kuntur): The largest of the birds.
25. Cura (kura): In reference to the colloquialism of parish priest, it means “person who guides”.
26. Coca (kuka): Name to designate the plant.
27. Guacho (wakcha): In reference to the inhabitant of the Argentine plains. It means poor or orphan.
28. Guano (wanu): Animal excrement.
29. Potato (potato): White tuber. The conquerors adopted the “potato” form.
30. Puma (cougar): Name to designate the animal. Words of Taino origin
Taino, with its different dialects, is the language that was spoken in the Antilles and the Florida Keys during the Hispanic conquest. It was the first American language that came into contact with Spanish, so it is a great source of indigenisms, in this case Tainisms . It is currently an extinct language.
31. Barbecue (barbakoa): Set of sticks.
32. Cacique (Cakchikeles): Chief of the tribe.
33. Canoe (cana-oua): Literally: empty the tree.
34. Hammock (hamaka): Net for fishing.
35. Hurricane (huracan): Center (hura) of the wind (can).
36. Iguana (iwana): Name to designate the animal.
37. Corn (mahis): That which gives sustenance to life. This gives us an idea of its importance. Words of Guarani origin
About eight million people still speak (or know) Guarani, a language native to the area of Bolivia, Paraguay and part of Argentina. Although there are several modern dialects, it is a pre-Hispanic language. Just as there are several Guarani words that come from Spanish, our language has also fed on the Guarani lexicon. Here are examples of Guaranisms .
38. Maraca (mbaraca): Pumpkin.
39. Paraguay (paraguai): River that gives rise to the sea.
40.Tucan (tuka): Name to designate the animal.
- Discover what these 50 Mexican sayings mean.
Blanch, JML (1965). Influence of indigenous languages on the lexicon of Spanish spoken in Mexico. Letters Yearbook. Linguistics and Philology, 5, 33-46.
Frazier, E.G. (2006). Loanwords from Nahuatl to Mexican Spanish. Hesperia: Yearbook of Hispanic Philology, (9), 75-86.
Cabrera, LG (1992). Dictionary of Aztecisms (No. 463 C32 1992).
Gaztambide Arrillaga, C. (1990). The Taino indigenous language in the Antilles.
Munne, JCZ (2002). Indigenisms in the language of the conquerors. Hesperia: Yearbook of Hispanic Philology, (5), 195-210.