I recently heard an American being interviewed use the word "adios" casually in a sentence. The particular sense of the word seemed to be a sort of permanent "good bye."

Since the speaker was (as far as I know) a native English speaker this got me wondering if "adios" has become an loanword to English instead of being considered just a common Spanish word that many Americans happen to know.

When I was a kid I remember being taught "adios" in the context of Spanish; but this may also mean that over the decades it has become so commonly known & used to be considered now a part of English?

  • Probably the only way to know is to check reputable dictionaries
    – Nick
    Apr 15, 2019 at 14:59
  • 1
    I would say, yes. It is in Merriam-Webster: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adios and in Collins: collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/adios and presumably others
    – user323578
    Apr 15, 2019 at 15:09
  • The English pronunciation, spelling, and use of adios are all different from the Spanish, so it's almost to if not at the point of adieu, beyond ciao or sayonara, and much further along than auf widersehen
    – choster
    Apr 15, 2019 at 17:22

1 Answer 1


In essence you're asking whether or when "a common Spanish word that many [English speakers] happen to know" becomes an English loanword.

Loanwords are distinguished phonetically (they have sound combinations that are uncommon to English). They have a form similar to their origin language, but perhaps have modified spelling or (especially for English) optional diacritics. (Compare resume and the French word résumé.) Adios fits this pattern, coming from the Spanish adiós and being adapted to English vowel pronunciations. (Compare this video presenting variations in American speech with the Spanish version. Now, imagine adios in a deep Southern American drawl. It happens.)

The Oxford English Dictionary cites instances of an Anglicized "Adios" or "A dios" as early as 1592:

1592 T. Lodge Euphues Shadow sig. L With a friendly Adios he left him to his rest.

Its use within English syntax as a noun modified by an adjective in an ordinary way is significant. While its context remains Spanish, the word stands alone in English to denote a Spanish goodbye. It can also be used in English where other goodbye words would be expected, like this 20th century example:

1940 C. McCullers Heart is Lonely Hunter i. iv. 53 ‘Adios,’ Jake said. ‘I'll be back sometime soon.’

One could argue that Jake is code-switching between languages, but the general intelligibility of what he said among non-Spanish-speaking English speakers suggests that he's using a loanword. In closing, adios, aloha, and ciao!

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