58 English Words of Spanish Origin


Albatross – from alcatraz, see below.

Alcatraz – (meaning “gannet”) from Arabic غطاس al-ġaţţās (“the diver”)

Alligator – from el lagarto, “the lizard”

Armadillo – from armadillo, “little armored one”

Avocado – alteration of Spanish aguacate, from Nahuatl ahuacatl which also means “testicle” in that language.


Barbecue – from the Chibcha word barbacoa

Barracuda – from barracuda May have come from barraco, meaning overlapping tooth

Bonanza – from bonanza meaning “prosperity”

Breeze – from brisa “cold northeast wind” or from Frisian briesen – to blow (wind)

Bronco – from bronco meaning “coarse”

Buckaroo – from vaquero meaning “cowboy”


Cafeteria – from cafetería, “coffee store”

Cannibal – from Spanish caníbal, alteration of caríbal, from Caribe

Canoe – from Spanish canoa

Canyon – from cañón meaning “a pipe, tube, gorge” from cano, “tube;”

Cargo – from the verb cargar meaning “to load”

Chaps – from Mexican Spanish chaparreras, leg protectors for riding through chaparral

Cigar – from Spanish cigarro meaning “fag, stogie, stogy”, from Mayan sicar or sic, “tobacco”

Cockroach – from Spanish cucaracha

Cocoa – from Spanish cacao, from Nahuatl cacáhuatl

Comrade – from French camarade meaning “friend”, from Spanish camarada, “pal, mate”

Condor – from Spanish, from Quechua cuntur

Coyote – from Spanish coyote, from Nahuatl coyotl


Embargo – from Spanish embargar, to “seize” or “impound”


Guerrilla – from Spanish “small war”


Hurricane – from Spanish huracán, from Taino hurákan; akin to Arawak kulakani, thunder


Incommunicado – from incomunicado, “in solitary confinement”

Iguana – from Spanish iguana from Arawak iwana.


Jade – from Spanish piedra de ijada, “stone of flank.”

Jerky – from Spanish charqui, from Quechua ch’arki, “dried flesh”


Key – from Spanish cayo, from Taino cayo (this is English ‘key’/’cay’/’quay’ as in an island, reef or a linked series of them)


Lasso – via American English from Spanish lazo meaning “tie;” ultimately from Latin laqueum, “noose, snare.”


Macho – from macho, male, brave, the property of being overtly masculine.

Mosquito – from mosquito, literally “little fly”

Mustang – from mestengo or mesteño, “without known master or owner” (archaic)


Oregano – from orégano, “marjoram”


Papaya – from japaya, akin to Arawak papáia

Patio – from patio, inner courtyard, “an open paved area adjacent to a home”

Platinum – from platina, “little silver” (now “Platino”)

Plaza – from plaza, “public square, spot or place”

Potato – from European Spanish patata, itself from batata, “sweet potato”, from Taino and papa, “potato” from Quechua

Pronto – from Spanish “soon, prompt”

Puma – from Spanish “cougar, panther”, from Quechua


Ranch – from rancho, a very small rural community, smaller than a town

Renegade – from renegado, “turncoat, heretic, disowned”

Rodeo – from rodeo and verb rodear (to go around)


Savanna – from sabana, “veld”, from Taino zabana

Savvy – from Spanish or Portuguese sabe, “knows”; sabio, wise, learned.

Sherry – from Old Spanish Xerés, modern Spanish Jerez

Silo – from silo

Stampede – from estampida

Stockade – from a French derivation of the Spanish estocada, “stab”


Tobacco – from Spanish (Nahuatl influenced) tabaco, “snuff”, .

Tomato – from Spanish tomate, from Nahuatl xitomatl

Tornado – from Spanish tronada, “thunderstorm”, influenced by tornar, “to turn”


Vamoose – from vamos, meaning “let’s go”

Vanilla – from Spanish vainilla, diminutive of Latin vaina, from vagina meaning “pod”

Vertigo – from the Spanish word Vertigo