Borrowed Spanish Words

Borrowed Spanish Words

You already know more Spanish than you think! As languages continue to expand and change, it’s very common for words to be “borrowed” from other languages. There are quite a number of English words that have been borrowed from Latin and/or Spanish – and I don’t just mean names of food, like “quesadilla,” “burrito,” or “piña colada.”


Cognates are words that are either the same in two languages, or are so similar, they can be understood without explanation. These are words that as a native English speaker, you would be able to recognize and understand when hearing or seeing. Take a look at the list below (the English word is on the left and the Spanish word is on the right):



attractive- atractivo

ballet- ballet

Bible – Biblia

cabana- cabaña, “cabin”

to continue – continuar

doctor – doctor(a)

excelente- excellent

family- familia

gynasium- gimnasio


favor- favor

map- mapa

oregano- orégano

restaurant- restaurante

sandwich- sándwich

violin- violín


See how similar they are? This is just a small sample, there are tons of English/Spanish cognates! In addition to cognates, we also use words in our every day English that are of Spanish origin. Look at this list of borrowed words below, according to Gerald Erichsen, a Spanish Language Expert. To see his full list, click here.


Words of Spanish Origin:

alligator – el lagarto or “the lizard”

armada- comes from the verb “armar” meaning “to arm”

cafeteria- cafetería “coffee store”

cargo- verb “cargar” to load

macho- male or referring to masculine things

stampede- from estampida


See? You already understand a lot of Spanish words, just by being a native English speaker. So, what’s stopping you from learning even more?


-David Castrillon

founder of



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  • Posted by David Castrillon
  • in Learning Spanish Online