We’ve talked about all sorts (many kinds) of different languages that influence (affect, have impact on) English on the Bespeaking blog (such as German, Latin, Yiddish, and French), but since Spanish loan words are such a huge contributor (giver), we’ve decided to cover it (write about it) twice!

Here are ten more Spanish loan words that you can use in your day-to-day life that come from Spanish. ¡Ándele!

Ten-Gallon Hat

Original: tan galán, meaning “so gallant”

Believe it or not, the name for the famous ten-gallon cowboy hat does not have anything to do with their ability (if you can do something) to hold ten gallons of water. The name is actually a bastardization (bad change, siimilar but not) of the Spanish phrase “so gallant,” which means that you look pretty nice in that hat!


Original: estampida

Whether it’s a stampede of cattle or people on Black Friday, we have this Spanish loan word to thank for. A stampede is a sudden, panicked (nervous) rush (very fast, a lot) of people or animals.

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Original: tronada, meaning “thunderstorm”, and tornar, “to turn”

While it’s quite dangerous (not safe), seeing a tornado is on my bucket list! It makes sense that the word tornado comes from the Spanish words meaning thunderstorm and “to turn,” as a tornado is basically a turning thunderstorm.


Original: guerilla means “small war”

Have you ever heard the term “guerilla fighters?” The pronunciation (how you say a word) is very close to the word “gorilla,” and unfortunately (sorry), there are no bands of highly-trained fighting gorillas around (sorry, 6-year-old Erin). Guerillas are soldiers, but they’re usually every-day people who are not part of an official army.


Original: cargar, meaning “to load”

Watching cargo ships sail in and out of the harbor (where the ships park) is one of my new favorite activities in my new home of Hamburg. The word cargo comes from the Spanish cargar, or “to load”, and makes sense as you have to load cargo onto a ship before you can transport it.


Original: vainilla

In our last blog about Spanish loan words, we said that the word chocolate comes from Spanish. Well… so does vanilla! The original word, vainilla, is a diminutive form of the Latin word vaina, which means pod (small place where balls or beans are kept in a plant.)


Original: quixotic comes from Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote

Cervantes is credited with (the the person who) writing the first ever novel, Don Quixote. In the most famous scene of the book, Don Quixote tries to fight windmills, as he thinks they’re giants. In English, we get the word quixotic from this book.

If someone’s on a “quixotic quest,” they’re doing something that takes a lot of effort with little to no reward (prize, something nice in the end), much like fighting windmills.


Original: mosquito means “little fly”

Calling a mosquito a “little fly,” makes them sound much less annoying than they actually are. Mosquitoes are small insects that suck blood and can spread disease. Make sure to wear bug spray to fend off (fight off) the mosquitoes this summer!

Try using these new Spanish loan words in your everyday language! Are there any other languages you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments below!

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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg!, is an English teacher,  yoga instructor and looks great in a ten-gallon hat! 

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