25 Top Spanish Loan Words in English

Are you ready to pick up some Spanish vocab, pronto? If you think you’re starting with nada, think again. English is full of Spanish loanwords and cognates – which means you can already understand more Spanish than you think!

1. Aficionado – A person who likes, knows about and appreciates a pursued interest or activity. From the Spanish afición, primarily meaning hobby/ pastime, but it can also mean affection.

2. Amigo – Friend (male). The female version, amiga, isn’t officially recognized in English.

3. Armada – A fleet of warships.

4. Banana – English borrowed this from Spanish and Portuguese, who most likely borrowed it from Wolof (West Africa).

5. Bodega – Wine storehouse or winery.


6. Bonanza – Spanish meanings include calm sea and prosperity.

7. Breeze – From the Spanish brisa, for northwest wind.

8. Cafeteria – From the Spanish cafetería, meaning coffeehouse.

9. Cigar – From the Spanish word for cigarette, cigarro.

10. Embargo – From the Spanish word embargar, to bar.

11. Guerilla – Spanish word derived from guerra, war.

12. Incognito – From the Spanish incógnito, meaning having one’s identity concealed.

13. Lasso – From the Spanish lazo, meaning snare or bow.

14. Macho – Spanish for male when referring to animals. Worth noting: macho has negative, sexist connotations when referring to people!

15. Marijuana – From the Mexican Spanish mariguana or marihuana.

16. Patio – Courtyard.

17. Plaza – A public square or open area.

18. Pronto – Without delay.

19. Renegade – From the Spanish renegado, one who abandons their ideals or faith.

20. Tomato – From the Spanish word tomate, from the Nahuatl tomatl.

21. Ranch – From the Spanish rancho, a very small rural community.

22. Mosquito – Means little fly in Spanish.

23. Stampede – From estampida, meaning uproar or crash.

24. Mustang – From Spanish mestengo (from mesta ‘company of graziers’) and mostrenco, both meaning wild or masterless cattle.

25. Cockroach – From the Spanish word cucaracha.

Freshen up your Spanish vocabulary with this informative video on Spanish loan words in English.


Watch out!

Not all meanings of Spanish loan words are the same in English. We call these tricky words “false friends” because they seem familiar but will stab you in the back.

Here are some examples of false friends in Spanish and English:

    • Lectura means reading, not a lecture.
    • Embarazada means pregnant, not embarrassed.
    • Librería means bookstore, not library.
    • Sensible means sensitive, not sensible.

And that’s a wrap! You’ve just learned (nearly) all there is to know about the Spanish words that have made their way into English. Pay attention when you’re hearing or reading Spanish – even a beginner can pick up a word or two. Soon you will find the other words!

¡Hasta la próxima!

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