One of my favorite parts of studying other languages is finding connections in the meanings and etymologies of different words. When asked what languages have influenced English, the top responses would likely be German, French, and Latin. Most people wouldn’t think to include Spanish in this list. While its linguistic influence is smaller than that of the other languages listed, Spanish is a crucial part of English vocabulary.
A common example of the influence of Spanish in American vocabulary is evident in the terms Americans use for items and activities associated with cowboys and the West. For instance, corral, rodeo, canyon (cañon), buckaroo (vaquero), bonanza, and lariat are all Spanish loan words or derivations. Words like tobacco, cigar (cigaro), hurricane (huracán), barbecue (barbacoa), and potato (patata) all come from Spanish and are generally terms derived from Latin American indigenous languages. Now, though, these are everyday words in English, used around the world.
Today, I wanted to share the etymology and linguistic connections of five Spanish words. Several of the connections are ones I learned through my Spanish classes, but I’ve also researched the etymologies of a couple of the words on my own because I was curious about them.
Parasol: This is the Spanish word for sunshade and is a combination of para from the verb parar, which means “to stop,” and sol, which is the word for sun. Thus, this word literally means “stop-sun.”
Paraguas: This word means umbrella in Spanish and is a combination of par and aguas, literally meaning “stop-waters.”
Jubilarse: I have always been fond of the Spanish word for to retire. Retirement from a job should be a joyful occasion, and this beautiful Spanish derivative of the Latin word for rejoice perfectly expresses this feeling.
Desayuno: Like in English, the Spanish word for the first meal of the day literally means to break one’s fast. Des– means to stop doing something and ayuno is the Spanish word for fast, so this word literally means “not-fast.”
Mayonesa: The word we know as mayonnaise has unclear origins, according to articles on the Internet. But one of my Spanish professors said that mayonnaise was invented on the island of Minorca when there was a shortage of butter and an excess of eggs and that the name comes from the city of Mahón. Mayonnaise is just a French version of this Spanish word that was introduced into the English language.
Painting credits: The Herd Quitter by C.M. Russell and Morning Walk by John Singer Sargent